Records: Mohawk 1-2; Carey 2-1
Coaches: Mohawk, Erik Baker; Carey, Todd Worst
Last Year: Carey 55, Mohawk 7
Outlook: If you're planning on attending this game, make sure you don't get there late. With two schools that like to run the football, the game has the potential to be over in an hour and a half.
Even though Mohawk has been trying to incorporate more of a spread attack, during last week's loss to Upper Sandusky, Baker made the move back to Mohawk's traditional power style.
"We were never in the spread per se, but we were using shotgun sets trying to use our weapons in different ways," Baker said. "We want to try to be more efficient. We were trying to do too much with it I think, and it was taking away from our identity. For whatever reason, the DNA at Mohawk is power football. Our kids are comfortable in our I, Wing stuff. It seemed that after we made the switch last week, even our defense hit harder.
"The gun stuff that we wanted to incorporate, the things we do well out of it we were keeping. Some of the things that were kinda accessories, we're de-emphasizing, just trying to get the most of the skills Drew Loose has."
The ability to run either style of offense gives Worst a number of things to prepare for, although he says he's expecting more of a power game.
"We're going to have to try to prepare for both, but knowing he's probably leaning more towards his typical power game," Worst said. "That's what's worked well for him traditionally. If they got the kids to execute it, I think they'll come out in the power game."
Carey's known for their wishbone attack, but Baker sees a more diverse Blue Devil team.
"In their own way, they are more multiple this year than I've ever seen them," he said. "They'll get in the I Flat and run toss and sweep. They got a couple gun sets, a trips and a double, their traditional wishbone. ... All their formations though, they still like to run option out of all of them."
Worst's team has rebounded with two-straight victories after an opening week loss to Upper Sandusky. He sees it as a sign his young player are gaining experience.
"Our kids are trying to get better one week to the next," he said. "We hope our kids are going to get better with experience. We got some young kids coming into their own. In the next couple weeks, we don't want to talk about how young we are but rather a traditionally strong Carey football team.
One player gaining experience is quarterback Matthew Holsinger, who's improved each week as the Blue Devil starter.
"It's kind of typical of our offense. The more looks you get, the better you get at making reads, and making good decisions in our passing game," Worst said. "The stats don't show the number of passes we called, where we made good decisions to tuck it away and run, or made the right reed on the play."
Records: North Baltimore 1-2; Hopewell-Loudon 1-2.
Coaches: North Baltimore, Dino Woodruff; Hopewell-Loudon, Jeremy Nutter.
Last year: Hopewell-Loudon 56, North Baltimore 6.
Outlook: The games between these two squads haven't been that competitive recently, with the Chieftains being a perennial playoff contender and North Baltimore having a string of difficult seasons.
But the teams come into Friday's Midland Athletic League opener with matching 1-2 records, and the Tigers having one of the better running backs in the league. Dalton Ishmael is averaging more than 82 yards rushing a game and six yards a carry.
"He's tough to tackle one-on-one and we're gonna have to hustle to the ball," Nutter said.
Not that Nutter is expecting it to be the Ishmael show Friday night.
"(The Tigers) seem to be a little more mixed in their pass and run," Nutter said. "They put some stress on your defensive backs. That's a concern for us."
In Hopewell-Loudon's 35-7 loss to Northwood, Nutter said the Chieftains' struggles related to the offense's miscues.
"I thought overall, we played well enough to win defensively," he said. "We turned the ball over entirely too much; when we get the chance to score we need to score."
Fremont St. Joe
at Seneca East
Records: Fremont St. Joe 2-1; Seneca East 3-0
Coaches: Fremont St. Joe, Scott Knisley; Seneca East, Ed Phillips
Last Year: Seneca East 26, Fremont St. Joe 10
Outlook: The Midland Athletic League schedule is just beginning this week, and kicking off the conference year is a game that looks to go a long way into deciding who's standing on top seven weeks from now.
The Streaks and Tigers have had two of the most impressive runs through non-conference play and are ranked one and two in the MAL in offense.
Phillips is expecting a solid team all the way around to come into Attica Friday night.
"St. Joe is a pretty good football team, pretty well-rounded," Phillips said. "They're big up front and skilled in skilled positions. Same thing goes for them on the defensive end of the ball. They got good size on their line and got some real good athletes at linebacker and in the defensive backfield."
St. Joe comes into the game as the league's top passing team by a wide margin. Its 286 passing yards a game is nearly double the next highest team (Calvert with 146.3).
They have three of the top receivers in the league in Luke Stierwalt (1st), Jordan Sessler (2nd) and Alex Veleba (5th). Phillips feels they are most dangerous after they catch the ball.
"They sling it around pretty good," he said. "We know they're going to complete some passes, we just need to make sure after they catch it, they don't get extra yards. That's when they do their most damage, after they make the catch. They're a good run after the catch football team.
"We're not fooled though, we know they can also run it pretty good. They like to spread you out, get guys out of the box. Then their quarterback is a good runner and they got a couple good running backs too."
Seneca East though has its own fair share of weapons. Starting quarterback Ethan Caudill, who was injured week one, is getting healthier each week. However, his backup, Jordan Phillips, has shown to be more than just a capable fill-in.
"Ethan's pretty much full-go. Jordan gives us something different back there and we like him back there too," Phillips said. "He's a good weapon to put back there for a change up every once in a while. Ethan's foot is getting better each week so now he can do more of those things too."
at Buckeye Central
Coaches: Gabe Helbert, Wynford; Jason Ratliff, Buckeye Central.
Record: Wynford, 3-0; Buckeye Central, 1-2.
Last year: Wynford squashed the Bucks, 38-6.
Outlook: When it comes to curing the Bucks' ills this season, Ratliff said one needs to look no farther than execution.
"I think we have found out that we need to do things the correct way all the time. If we aren't able to do that, it's going to cost us a lot of ballgames," he said. "These kids are getting a lot of experience and at this point should be able to step up and be ready to play."
If the Bucks want an example of how that's done, they can look across the line this week as Wynford comes to New Washington.
"We play a team that doesn't make any mistakes where all 11 guys on the field do their job all the time," Ratliff said.
As much as Wynford changes personnel the more things stay the same. After three straight college-bound quarterbacks, the Royals have yet another quarterback who can run and pass. Junior Brock Williamson has thrown for 464 yards and five scores through three weeks. He's also rushed for 191 yards and another two TDs.
In the backfield, Corey Brown has rushed for 269 yards and three touchdowns.
"They have a nice team and they have good offensive and defensive lines," Ratliff said. "Their offensive line up front, gets the job done."
Ratliff said the other change that hasn't had any effect is the retirement of Travis Moyer.
"Gabe was an assistant and he's followed the same blueprint and their kids do a good job following the same gameplan," Ratliff said.
The veteran Bucks' coach said there will be some changes on offense this week. One kid who won't be moving around is sophomore Seth Ollis. He's been playing on both sides of the ball for the Bucks so far and Ratliff said he's impressed out of the gate.
"I think Seth does what he's asked to do and he listens to what we have said to him," Ratliff said, "and if a lot of kids can follow in his footsteps and do what they are asked to do, that will help us down the road."
at Upper Sandusky
Coaches: Chris Hawkins, Galion; Jake Moyer, Upper Sandusky.
Record: Galion, 2-1; Upper Sandusky, 2-1
Last year: Galion annihilated the Rams, 47-14.
Outlook: Despite being 2-1, Moyer doesn't feel the Rams have reached their pinnacle yet.
"We have not played our best football as a team. We have to get both sides playing well at the same time," Moyer said. "We have to have our offense play more consistent and the defense not give up the best pass play."
If the Rams want to make it 3-1, Moyer said his team will have to do some very specific things against a Galion team that was pegged in the preseason to be one of the North Central Conference's best.
"Our primary objective is going to be control the clock," Moyer said. "We're going to need to have long drives and finally score and keep them from the quick strikes. If we can do that, we have a chance."
After a 14-7 loss to Mansfield in the season opener, the Tigers have scored 108 in their next two games.
"Galion has two very outstanding athletes, David Nay and Dareian Watkins," Moyer said. "They can take the ball the length of the field in a moment's notice."
Nay has rushed for 294 yards on 47 carries and found the end zone four times. Meanwhile, Watkins has thrown for 168 yards and four scores and added another 107 on the ground with two touchdowns. Both players are being looked at by Division I schools for their football prowess, including some Big Ten schools.
In fact, because of Nay being back on kickoffs, Moyer said their strategy may be modified since Nay is averaging 37 yards a return.
"I told our kickoff team, if we kick it out of bounds every time, you'll get a gold star," Moyer said.
Moyer said Galion's defense is just as vicious.
"The defense is dynamic because it's very aggressive," he said. "They rush up the field very hard and try to keep you from the big play."
Genoa at Fostoria
2012: Genoa 3-0; Fostoria 0-3.
Coaches: Mike Vicars, Genoa; Jim Kelly, Fostoria.
Last year: Genoa 55, Fostoria 0.
Outlook: There have been two constants for Fostoria so far this year: Tough opponents and camaraderie. The first won't change Friday, and Kelly feels the second won't either.
"I think it's been pretty good. Certainly you get down when you lose, but the one thing is, we've stuck together. Our kids are here, we're still getting at it," Kelly said.
"Our message with the the kids has been 'stay with it, we're going to be fine,'" he said.
That will get challenged in Friday's Northern Buckeye Conference opener.
Genoa enters averaging 50 points per game in its march for another playoff appearance, shooting for that goal with a very familiar approach.
"They're very physical. They've been there and run that system in Genoa for the better part of eight years. They run it in high school and junior high, they have a system that they know. They've run it, they're accustomed to it," Kelly said.
"We're going to have to tackle and play good fundamental football. We can do that," he said. "We need to keep with it and keep hanging with it and get better."
Despite last week's weather-shortened 47-0 loss to Columbian, Kelly said he saw positives from his Redmen, such as a goal-line stand at the end of the first half against TC's starting offense and a sustained drive in the second half that ended on downs inside Columbian's 20.
He said Fostoria needs more of that effort throughout the game this week, especially as the Redmen try to improve an offense that's scored just once this year.
"The big thing for us is, we faced opponents that were just so good. Because of that we've had to do some things that took us away from our spread offense," Kelly said. "It's made it difficult. We've tried to get back to our spread offense and be more proficient."
-- The A-T sports staff