The wait is over

It’s been 294 days since Columbian walked off the field in Fremont, after its season came to an end following a regional semifinal loss to Avon.

That’s a long time to wait with a bad taste in your mouth.

Tonight the wait finally comes to an end.

Nearly 10 months of offseason programs, conditioning and practices culminate with tonight’s season opener as the Tornadoes welcome Clyde into Frost-Kalnow Stadium.

“You get to this point every year, it’s been a long time,” Columbian coach Brian Colatruglio said. “The way we run our camp days in July, we go the last couple weeks of July, so we’ve been going at it here for over a month now. It’s time to play a game. I think our guys are getting anxious to get out there and have it count for real.”

Columbian has downed Clyde in the last two season openers, and also came away from a 2010 playoff game against the Fliers victorious.

But while the jerseys and helmets lining up across from them may be familiar to the Tornadoes, the team may not be. Clyde coach Marc Gibson left the program in April after eight seasons to take the head coaching job at Maumee – which will be coming to Tiffin in Week 2.

Ryan Carter is the new man in charge of the Fliers, and Colatruglio says he’ll bring a whole new style to prepare for.

“Offensively they’ve completely overhauled what they’re doing,” Colatruglio said. “They’ve gone to a no-huddle, up-tempo spread offense. It’s about as far from what they’ve were doing as it possibly could be. Defensively, their defensive coordinator is the same so there’s a little more familiarity with what they’re doing defensively. But offensively, it’s a whole new system.

“The quarterback (Tim Hoppe), looks like he’s solid. He can make plays running and throwing. I think they’re doing a good job of trying to get their best players the ball and it’s not just one tailback, it’s a bunch of different guys that are going to get it.”

Colatruglio says, though, he expects the ball to be in Hoppe’s hands a lot tonight as Clyde’s version of the spread likely will keep the ball on the ground.

“It’s a little more run [version of the spread]. The quarterback is a really good runner, but they’re going to be balanced,” Colatruglio said. “They’re going to do a little of both, but I think they’re going to want to get the ball in his hands, let him make decisions. Sometimes when things break down, that’s when he’s most dangerous. He’s going to take off and scramble. It’s got to be a real emphasis of ours, trying to keep him contained and not let him get out of the pocket.”

Colatruglio, though, does like what he’s seen from his own running game through the team’s scrimmages.

“We’re physical up front. We’re going have success running the ball on just about anybody,” he said. “We haven’t made a ton of changes. But we also have a bunch of guys that haven’t played before. You come out of the scrimmages and you think you have a pretty good feel, but until you see them on Friday night when it’s a real game, under the lights, you’re never real sure.”

Kickoff is 7 p.m.