Lisbon quarterback Lucas Francis tries to shake off Darin Buono of Mountain Valley in Lisbon last Saturday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Game plans are fickle in football, of course, in part because coaches often weigh employing their team’s strengths against exploiting their opponent’s weaknesses if those two aren’t in sync.

Such is the dilemna facing both the Lisbon and Spruce Mountain coaching staffs this week as they prepare for a big Class D South showdown of 2-0 teams (1 p.m. Saturday, Thompson Field). 

While Lisbon coach Chris Kates said he is looking for more balance from his offense, the Greyhounds are at their best when they run with QB Lucas Francis and RB Isaiah Thompson. Not only is it their most effective means of moving the ball, it also wears down the opposition, something Lisbon always takes great pride in.

Spruce Mountain’s run defense has been stout this year, but the pass defense is still trying to find itself. The Phoenix allowed 275 yards through the air in their 38-6 win over Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale in the opener, then got hit for big plays in last week’s 40-26 win over Class C Lake Region. If Lisbon decides to rely more on Francis’ right arm, Robbie Dick, Cam Bourget and Seth Leeman will likely be his top targets. 

The Phoenix present plenty of challenges to Lisbon’s defense. Even without the services of running back Kayle Stewart, they have plenty of speed to burn. QB Jack Bryant took the first snap against Lake Region for an 80-yard run, and Brandon Frey and Zak Toothaker are big play threats offensively and in the return game. 

Lisbon did a good job of neutralizing Mountain Valley’s speed in last week’s 20-12 win over Mountain Valley by taking away the outside pitch on the Falcons’ triple option. To keep the Greyhounds from focusing on closing in on the edges, Spruce Mountain boasts a powerful inside runner, Tate Walton, who joined Bryant and Frey with over 100 yards rushing against Lake Region.

Lisbon won last year’s matchup at Griffin Field, 22-6, but this one could have bigger long-term implications. The Greyhounds and Phoenix are two of three remaining unbeaten teams in D South, and the winner should have an inside track on home field if they meet in the playoffs. 

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