Columbian to be tested right away by Fliers

Columbian begins its season with a game that -on paper – looks to be one of its biggest tests of 2014.

The Tornadoes travel to play Clyde today, a team that was a state semifinalist a season ago. The Fliers also handed Columbian its only loss of the regular season in 2013. That came in Week 1. The Tornadoes responded to the defeat by winning 10 straight games.

TC coach Brian Colatruglio was asked what differences he expects to see against this year’s Fliers.

The answer? Not many.

“There’s not a lot,” he said. “With coach [Ryan] Carter being in his second year now and having the success that they had, they have a system in place just like we do. We’re not going to look at too different than we did a year ago, and neither are they.”

This is the fifth time the Fliers and Tornadoes have matched up in Colatruglio’s tenure, and the Tornadoes’ coach said the games have been similar.

“It’s a physical, tough, defensive-minded football game, and I really expect it to be more of the same,” Colatruglio said.

Columbian will start Stone Simmons at quarterback. Simmons wasn’t the Tornadoes’ primary starter a season ago, but he did start last year’s game with the Fliers.

Colatruglio said Simmons is a different quarterback this season.

“Let’s be honest, he wasn’t ready to be a varsity starter last year at this time,” Colatruglio said. “It was kind of forced upon him, and I thought he handled himself really well in those five weeks (when he started). But it wasn’t because he was ready to go. This year it’s a totally different situation.

Colatruglio said that this year, the staff and team has known since the offseason that Simmons was the starter.

“The work that he’s put in and the improvements he’s made, … knowing that it’s his team,” Colatruglio said, “it’s a huge difference.”

Carter agreed when asked about facing Simmons for the second time. But he still expects TC to focus on running the football.

“He’s got a whole ‘nother year and snaps under his belt,” Carter said of Simmons. “[Columbian’s] still a run-oriented team. They have a huge offensive line that frightens anybody …, what you’ll have to do against them is contain the run and hope you don’t get hit over the top.”

Clyde will start a new quarterback in senior Austin Baker.

“We’re playing against a really good team and a really good program,” Carter said. “We have our work cut out for us, and him especially. We have a couple up front guys back so that should help.

“What it comes down to is the quarterback has to make some plays, and I have confidence in (Baker) to be able to do that,” he said.

When asked about the Clyde quarterback, Colatruglio said the Fliers were “reloading with another senior.”

“It seems like a lot of what they’re going to do revolves around him,” the TC coach said. “He’s active in the run game; they’ve had some success throwing the ball in the scrimmages. Really, I think it’s a quarterback-centered offense, and that’s where it’s gonna start.”

Both coaches acknowledged they were starting the season with a difficult game, but neither said that was a bad thing.

“It forces you to be ready,” Carter said. “You don’t have that buffer where you can go into a game, make mistakes and still win.”

Clyde starts the season with three tough games. After Columbian, it plays Eastwood and then Bellevue.

“We’re looking forward to the challenges,” Carter said.

Colatruglio said its good to have early competition.

“I enjoy have a real quality opponent right from the beginning,” he said. “I think it helps your summer preparation. You kind of get a little lull in two-a-days, and you start talking about Clyde, that really benefits us, to be ready to play right from the beginning.”

Kickoff is at 7 p.m.