Columbian hungry for a win in season opener

Of course Judd Lutz wants his team to compete tonight against Elida, and play well.

But after 10 consecutive losses and a long offseason, the third-year Tornadoes’ coach isn’t into moral victories.

“I can’t lie, so I’m just gonna be very honest,” Lutz said. “We expect to win, and we want to win. A good showing would not be good enough, because last year, we had six or seven good showings and came out on the losing end.”

And Lutz said he won’t take solace in that.

“We want to win, and our kids are hungry for that win,” Lutz said. “Not a lot of people — even locally — are possibly expecting us to win. Picking against us. We appreciate that. It’s a little extra motivation.”

If Elida is the favorite, it’s because the Bulldogs went 8-3 last year and qualified for the playoffs. They also beat Columbian in 2017’s season opener, 42-20.

But Elida will look at little different this year. Isaac McAdams, the dual-threat quarterback who gave the Tornadoes problems a year ago, has graduated. So has top receiver Cole Harmon, and quality running back Daniel Unruh.

As it turns out, Unruh’s brother Evan — a freshman — was expected to start at quarterback for the Bulldogs this season. But Lutz said the QB had an injury, so he’s not sure of his status for tonight.

“I’m not sure who we’re gonna see,” Lutz said. “We’ve had to kind of prepare for two different situations defensively.”

Elida’s offense isn’t just its quarterback. At running back, Marcel Poe is expected to be a factor, as is Billy Jahntz.

But the chances of seeing two kinds of quarterback is a challenge.

“We’ve prepared for this really mobile, athletic running back in the looks we’ve tried to give our defense in the last couple weeks,” Lutz said. “And then, also, some drop back and quick throw, and deep pass stuff, as well, just to prepare our secondary for that possibility.”

Offensively, like Elida, Columbian will have a new quarterback this season. Junior Chase Frankhauser will get the call.

“He’s looked really, really great, selected as a captain as a junior,” Lutz said. “We’re really excited to turn him loose, and to carry the offense in some regards, but he doesn’t have to be a one-man show. We feel our strengths are everybody around him as well, and he knows that.”

As for what the Tornadoes will see from the Bulldogs’ defense, Lutz said it’s a 4-3.

“Their outside linebackers, we think, are pretty dang good,” Lutz said. “They have good athletes in the perimeter, and they’re not afraid to put those guys on an island, and kind of pack the box and make the run game tough.”

Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Frost-Kalnow Stadium.