Hopewell-Loudon at North Baltimore
Records: Hopewell-Loudon 2-1; North Baltimore 2-1.
Coaches: Hopewell-Loudon, Jeremy Nutter; North Baltimore, Greg Bishop.
Last week: Hopewell-Loudon took care of Toledo Christian 39-19; North Baltimore topped Elmwood 26-20.
Last year: Hopewell-Loudon won 54-20.
Outlook: It's a new-look North Baltimore team with a new coach, and, according to Nutter, a new attitude.
Nutter said the Tigers are much improved from a season ago, when the Chieftains bashed them in Bascom.
"I think it's a testament to the job coach Bishop is doing over there," he said. "(The players) believe in him and what they're doing, and they're explosive."
In the past, North Baltimore has played well early, but its lack of numbers have given bigger teams an advantage.
But Nutter said that hasn't been an issue from what he's seen.
"Watching the tape, they don't seem to wear down to me," he said.
One of the keys for the Tigers has been the play of quarterback Lane Bishop, who already has thrown for 800 yards and eight touchdowns.
"We're gonna have to play well in space and keep an eye on the quarterback," Nutter said.
H-L's offense has been on point the last two weeks, and a big key to that has been Cody Malone, who has 321 yards on the season.
"He's taking care of the football and not trying to press," Nutter said.
Nutter also praised his defense for its play so far this season.
"Defense has been great," Nutter said. "We've given up some long plays we don't like, but on a down-to-down basis, we're pretty pleased with what we do. "
Upper Sandusky at Crestline
Records: Upper Sandusky 3-0; Crestline 1-2.
Coaches: Jake Moyer, Upper Sandusky; Lee Hurst, Crestline.
Last week: Upper Sandusky dumped Mohawk, 48-19; Crestline beat South Central, 28-22.
Last year: The two teams didn't play each other last year.
Outlook: Moyer is taking a page from Michigan this week.
The Wolverines struggled against an Akron team Saturday that had gone 1-11 in each of the last three years. It took a Michigan touchdown with little more than two minutes to go in the game for the then No. 11 Wolverines to pull out the 28-24 victory.
"This is the kind of team that you can't let them feel good about themselves. If you let a team like this feel good, they begin to feel cocky," Moyer said of Crestline. "Akron had no business being in that game last week. They made some plays and began to feel more cocky. The same thing can happen in high school."
After beating rivals Carey and Mohawk around a real strong Seneca East team, Moyer said the Bulldogs present themselves in the players' minds as a lesser opponent and it's evidenced itself in practice this week.
"We can't take them lightly and not take care of business and mess around in practice. I've had to put my thumb down a few times and I'll do it again (today). It's an instinctual thing. They've been so good the last five weeks preparing for Carey and the next week and the next week," Moyer said. "They can see it's not a particularly strong opponent. It's not a Carey. It's not a Mohawk. To me though, it's red alert time."
Red alert comes in the form of a young Crestline team that has been outscored 117-56 through three weeks and is seventh in the league in total offense. Moyer is not fooled by the numbers.
"I see a team that looks more organized every week. Their offense and defense is more structured every week," Moyer said. "They're very young in spots but have good size."
One of the the young kids is the coach's son, Lee Hurst Jr. The gunslinger has fired four TDs against two interceptions.
"You can tell he's been schooled in the fundamentals of quarterbacking. He's young, but he's going to get nothing but better," Moyer said. "If these kids in Crestline can stick together for a few years, they're going to be a formidable opponent."
Carey at Mohawk
Records: Carey 1-2; Mohawk 0-3.
Coaches: Carey, Todd Worst; Mohawk, Erik Baker.
Last week: Carey roughed up Riverdale 62-12; Mohawk lost to Upper Sandusky 48-19.
Last year: Carey won 40-22.
Outlook: It's a big Midland Athletic League rivalry that will continue next season when both teams move to the Northern 10 Athletic Conference.
Mohawk is hungry for its first win of the season, while Carey got its first win last week.
Worst said his team's thrashing of Riverdale was a step in the right direction for the Blue Devils.
"I think we came out with the right attitude," he said. "I think our kids accomplished what we needed to, executed pretty well in the pass game and the run game. We got better last week."
There were some positives for Mohawk in last week's loss to the Rams, starting with the play of its running backs, Gunnar Johnson and Eric Maskey. Both went over 100 yards rushing and Maskey added three touchdowns.
"Gunnar Johnson and Eric Maskey had great weeks last week ... we have not had that happen since 2010 in the Toledo Christian playoff game with Devin Cartwright and Caleb Coil both going over 100 yards," Baker said.
Worst said he's impressed with the Warriors' defense.
"The defensive front looks pretty good," Worst said. "The front seven played pretty well against Upper.
"I see them being a lot like us right now," Worst said. "They've got some kids working really hard, playing hard enough to deserve a win. We're gonna try to take care of business. Run the ball, stop the run."
As for the Blue Devils offense, Baker said while some things have changed, it's still the same basic principle.
"Carey is still power run and option," he said. "They are just diversifying the formations they use. At their core they are still wishbone."
Baker said Mohawk needs to continue the positives it had last week.
"We need to build on success we had last week on the ground, and improve our pass protection," he said.
Seneca East at Fremont St. Joe
Records: Seneca East 2-1; Fremont St. Joe 2-1
Coaches: Seneca East, Ed Phillips; Fremont St. Joe, Thomas Buckley
Last Week: Seneca East rolled over Monroeville 42-18 while St. Joe topped Gibsonburg 33-13.
Last Year: St. Joe edged Seneca East in the final minute for a 34-27 victory.
Outlook: Last year Seneca East opened up Midland Athletic League play with a heartbreaking loss to the Crimson Streaks. But, even though a core group of Tigers return from last year, revenge won't be the primary motive when the 2014 MAL campaign kicks off Friday in Fremont.
"I haven't even talked to the kids about that," Phillips said. "You hear people talk about revenge and that, but when the balls kicked off, I don't think revenge has any relevance."
Outside of a few pieces, this year's Crimson Streaks hardly resemble last year's high-octane offense. There's new personnel, a new coach and a new style.
"Coach Buckley comes in and emphasizes a power run game. Two backs and under center all the time. They run power football," Phillips said of his counterpart. "They want to run the football. It's his personality as a coach, and the personnel they have suits that personality. The players they do have coming back are a couple of very good linemen and a couple good backs."
St. Joe went from being the top passing team in the league a year ago, to the top rushing team after three weeks this year (252 ypg). Marcus Kerr leads the MAL with 428 yards on 64 carries and five TDs. Mitchell Gonya has also scampered for 215 yards on 44 carries.
"Good pair of them there," Phillips said of St. Joe's backs. "If they just had one, you can focus on one. But, putting them both back there, it gives them a nice dual threat. Makes them more dangerous."
Phillips says St. Joe is similar to the Upper Sandusky team his Tigers played in Week 2 as far as size upfront goes. But unlike the Rams, the Crimson Streaks will keep the defense packed in, instead of spreading it out.
"They're similar that they have good size and good athletes," he said. "In terms of style, Upper spread you out and put a lot of people on the perimeter. ... St. Joe, they pack you in and stay in it the entire game."
Fostoria at Elmwood
Records: Fostoria 0-3; Elmwood 0-3.
Coaches: Jim Kelly, Fostoria; Brian Cooper, Elmwood.
Last week: Sandusky Perkins beat Fostoria 65-6; North Baltimore beat Elmwood 26-20.
Last year: Elmwood won 14-6.
Outlook: Someone's losing streak will come to an end. Both teams enter Northern Buckeye Conference play at 0-3, with Fostoria in midst of a 13-game losing streak and Elmwood's last win coming in the second-to-last game last year.
"They're kind of a young team like we are, looking to get a win. They're not gong to fall asleep, here," Kelly said.
"Elmwood presents challenges for us, but we hope the level of competition we've been playing has prepared us for them," he said.
Some of that preparation has come at the expense of youth.
The Redmen were forced to play many youngsters in last week's lop-sided loss, with only a few bright spots.
One was freshman Tysen Latta leading everyone with 118 yards on eight carries, with one fourth-quarter rush covering 76 yards for Fostoria's lone score. The other was team effort.
"Tysen got in, he's got a lot of speed. When you're playing all the young guys we were playing, it's a challenge for them," Kelly said.
"Our guys, young guys, they all were still flying to the ball deep in the fourth quarter and I think that shows a lot about them and that's something we can build on," he said.
They'll get another challenge Friday, Kelly said.
Elmwood's Austin Isaacs ran for 182 yards and two touchdowns against North Baltimore, and Aaron Arnold is a two-way threat as a back and receiver.
"They've got a couple backs who run the ball hard. Their run game is where it starts for them. We realize that's the main concern," Kelly said. "Up front, they're a pretty big team. We just have to play fundamental football - tackle, keep things in front.
"They do have [offensive] weapons that we certainly have to account for," he said.
Buckeye Central at Wynford
Records: Buckeye Central 1-2; Wynford 1-2.
Coaches: Buckeye Central, Jeff Niedermier; Wynford, Gabe Helbert.
Last week: Buckeye Central lost to Plymouth 27-21; Wynford lost to Crestview 26-21.
Last year: Wynford shut out the Bucks 34-0.
Outlook: Despite the fact that Buckeye Central and Wynford have identical records, Niedermier knows his squad is the underdog.
Part of it is the dominance Wynford has held in the North Central Conference over the years. Part of it is BC's struggles since last season.
Regardless, Niedermier has been in this position before, as a player.
"Every team's beatable, no matter what people say," Niedermier said.
The BC coach brought up when he was a guard on Buffalo's 2008 football team. Buffalo advanced to the Mid-American Conference title game, and was heavy underdogs.
"We went into MAC championship against an undefeated Ball State team and we went in and beat them," Niedermier said.
But the coach said the Bucks beating the Royals will not be easy.
"They're still a very sound team, well-disciplined, well-coached," Niedeermier said. "Not a big difference between this year and last year."
The Bucks have had success in recent weeks running the ball. Alec Baldosser had his second consecutive big game, rushing for 170 yards and two touchdowns in a loss to Plymouth.
"We have to establish the run like we have been doing and go at them and attack them," Niedermier said.
--- By The A-T sports staff