No MAL, but still a rivalry game for Calvert, Chieftains
The year will be full of change for both Calvert and Hopewell-Loudon. Both will travel to new places and see their fair share of new teams. And, for the first time in 29 years, when the two play, the game won’t take on the added significance of being a conference clash.
But, when it comes to the rivalry between the two schools, that’s about the only thing that’s changed.
“It’s always exciting to play Hopewell,” Calvert coach Todd Fox said. “We’re less than 10 miles apart. Our kids know each other. The coaching staffs know each other. All beyond this week, to be honest, coaching staffs are pretty good friends. It’s a great game; it’s a great way to open up. And that’s the reason we wanted to keep this rivalry, for our fans and for our programs.”
It was the same for the Chieftains.
“I think when the unfortunate events occurred to lead to the MAL dissolving, our first thoughts were ‘can we preserve a traditional rivalry with Calvert?’ Thankfully that worked out,” H-L coach Jeremy Nutter said. “It’s a rivalry game and we wanted to keep it.
“I think it works for everyone,” he said. “It’s a great rivalry.”
Both teams have a schedule dotted with unfamiliar opponents, so that makes any game against a familiar foe a welcome relief.
“Thats one thing we talked about in the future of the season, most weeks we won’t have a clue about who we’re playing,” Fox added. “At least this week we know of their personnel and what the coaches like to do. It’s a comfort as we go into the new league.”
Fox said he knows what to expect from Nutter, and knows what players the Chieftains have that are the most dangerous.
“Coach Nutter’s offense is always very well coached,” he said. “They have a great group of weapons. I know he’s running the ball a little more this year than in years past. They can strike from anywhere. We have to play sound defense to play them.”
No weapon on Calvert’s sideline may be greater than Tyler Long, a third-year starting quarterback for the Senecas. Calvert also features Adam Recker who split time at running back last season.
Nutter said his team’s concern definitely starts with Long, but doesn’t end there.
“They are, top to bottom, a solid football team; well-coached, traditionally successful. I think it goes without saying, their quarterback and free safety, Tyler Long, is one of the best players in northwest Ohio,” he said.
“But it’s not just him. They’re good up front, they’ve got fast wideouts. It’s truly going to be a test from top to bottom for our team to face adversity,” he said. “When [the Senecas] do well, we’re going to have to be able to rally and come back from that.”
Fox says there are some new names that people should know by season’s end.
“Corbin Kantner is a sophomore wideout that had some part-time starting last year,” he said. “He’s a long, rangy player, really sound football player for us. Devin Stith, even though he started every game last year, he came off an offseason injury, didn’t have any time to put in the weight room or to develop. Right now Devin Stith’s at tight end, and he’ll widen out too, he’s a great player also.”