Prep football, Week 5: Head over heels

Seneca East at Mohawk

Records: Seneca East 4-0, 1-0; Mohawk 4-0, 1-0

Last year: Seneca East, 24-21

Outlook: The numbers are eerily similar.

Mohawk and Seneca East are about even in every aspect. The Tigers have given up 35 points in four games and Mohawk has given up 36. Both are 4-0 and atop of their respected regions in the playoff positioning. Mohawk comes in at No. 3 in the state in Division VII and Seneca East is receiving votes in the Division VI poll.

Something has to give.

“We just have to be better at execution,” Mohawk coach Brent Konkle said. “We are getting better at it every week on both sides of the ball. This will be the best team we’ve seen thus far and I know our kids have had this game circled on our calendar for about 12 months now from the game last season.”

Seneca East won a thriller last season. Seneca East Coach Ed Phillips knows how close the games with Mohawk have been and he expects another chapter to the matchup.

“We have played some really exciting games in the past. I think we are two similar schools, with similar type kids that are tough football players with great defenses, so I think it makes for great Friday nights against them,” Phillips said. “I didn’t even realize until I saw some of the numbers this week of how similar we are, but these back-and-forth games have been exciting.

“(Mohawk) is pretty multiple. They can spread the ball around with multiple guys carrying the ball, which is a challenge to defend. We have to tackle well and play well up front to make some big plays.”

One big key for the Tigers would be to have Chase Foos back at QB. Foos has been out the past several games after an injury, and Phillips said he still is day-to-day, but there is a chance he might suit up Friday night.

“I think he’ll play Friday and they will be full-go and clicking on all cylinders,” Konkle said. “They are big and physical up front and they like to blitz, so we have to be ready up front.”

Clyde at Port Clinton

Records: Clyde 2-2; Port Clinton 2-2

Last year: Clyde, 49-3

Outlook: Clyde is improving every week and coach Ryan Carter likes what he is seeing from his team.

After a tough few weeks playing tough teams, the Fliers got back on track with a blowout of Bowsher last week. Now heading into a showdown with Port Clinton, Carter wants to keep seeing improvement.

“We were pleased with the way we played last week,” he said. “We didn’t play that poorly the previous weeks, but we just didn’t make enough plays to beat good teams, which we’ll have to do this week to have a chance.

“It’s just going to be one of those seasons with our schedule we play, we have to play our best every week to have a chance to win. We’ve had some injuries that have cost us a bit, but we are getting a few of those guys back. We lost a few last week, but that’s just part of the game. We’ve had some kids step up and play well.”

Port Clinton has been a solid team in the Bay Division, but Clyde dominated the Redskins a year ago.

“They’re a different team and so are we, so I don’t think we can put much stock into last year’s game,” Carter said. “They’ve also played a tough schedule so far and we know we have to play well against them.

“They are running some of the same stuff from last year, but with some new players. Their quarterback is good at hitting the open guys and they have some guys to run the ball. Defensively, their linebackers are really good. They have a few guys that make you pay extra attention to them. But our theme is that we really have to play well to give

ourselves a chance. We can’t make mistakes if we want to achieve the goals we want to.”

Carey at Bucyrus

Records: Carey 2-2, 0-1; Bucyrus 1-3, 0-1

Last year: Carey 48-13

Outlook: Carey will have to be road warriors one more week as it is the last of three straight games away from Wentling Field in Carey against Bucyrus.

“We are 2-2 with a tough non-league schedule and then started off our league schedule with one of the favorites in Mohawk and we had them 14-14 in the third quarter, so I don’t think we’re that far off,” Mershman said. “We’ve just had some major penalties hurt us in some big spots and we need to be more disciplined. Some of that is on me, so we’ve been working on the little things and focusing on what we need to do to get better as a team.”

The Redmen have had some trouble offensively so far this season.

The Redmen have scored 78 points this season, but have the sixth-best offense in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference. Their defense is second to last and have given up 126 points.

Quarterback Ben Seibert is 15 of 37 for 296 yards passing with four scores and a pick. Harley Robinson is the top target for Seibert with just nine catches for 155 yards and three TDs. Devon Newland is their leading rusher with 59 carries for 229 yards and a pair of scores.

“Bucyrus is running the ball a lot more this year and running a lot out of the wing-T. The notion that they are a spread team can be put to rest from what I’ve seen,” Mershman said. “I saw their tape from Galion and they had more rushing yards against them than we did, so that’s something we have to prepare for us to stop the run.

Carey will need to establish the running game like it likes to do. The Blue Devils have struggled getting the ground game going so far, being the sixth-best rushing team in the N10 this season. However, new QB Ethan Beringer has been a bright spot passing for 558 yards with seven touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. Jordan Dasher and Adam Hackworth have about the same yardage on the ground and Griffin Summit is the leading receiver with 12 grabs for 333 yards and six scores.

Mershman said Bucyrus likes to take away the run.

“They run a 5-front defensively and they try to stop the run and make you pass,” he said, “We’ll have to handle our business up front and try to control the line of scrimmage.”

Carey has to pick it up in the next few weeks to make a serious run for the playoffs as it still has Seneca East, Wynford and Colonel Crawford to play in the later half of the season.

Woodmore at Fostoria

Records: Woodmore 0-4, 0-1; Fostoria 1-3, 0-1.

Last year: Fostoria, 61-0.

Outlook: It’s the second week of Northern Buckeye Conference play, and both teams come in needing a win.

Woodmore went just 2-8 last year (Toledo Christian 19-14 in Week 2, Elmwood 31-22 in Week 10), and that came after a 1-9 record in 2016 (Toledo Christian 49-25 in Week 2).

The Wildcats have struggled with scoring, tallying just 42 points over the first four weeks, which included a 42-13 loss last week to Rossford.

But Fostoria is not without it struggles. While the Redmen blew out Cardinal Stritch 49-19 for their lone win, they have scored just 19 other points this year, were shut out in the season opener and lost 45-6 last week to Otsego.

Fostoria coach Derek Kidwell said turning that around starts with challenging his offensive linemen to be mean and aggressive.

“We want to control the line of scrimmage. We want to get (our running backs) a lot of touches. I think we can display some things in the passing game,” he said. “We’ll try to be more balanced than we have in the past, but our offensive line has to be 300 percent better than they have been.”

The challenge on defense comes from Woodmore’s offense. The Wildcats run the Wing-T, which Kidwell said forces opposing teams and players to read their keys and stay disciplined throughout a play.

However, he added the Redmen should be able to wear down the Wildcats.

“I think our interior guys should have an advantage. We’ve got to play with heart, play with passion,” he said. “We want to create pressure, control our gaps.

“They’re kind of undersized compared to the teams they’ve played,” he said of the Wildcats. “They just don’t have the horses to win some of the races right now. They play hard. They don’t make a lot of mistakes. They play assignment football. They’re young, also.”

Lakota at Sandusky St. Mary

Records: Lakota 2-2, 0-1; St. Mary 2-2, 1-0.

Last year: Lakota, 28-7.

Outlook: They’re similar, and yet different.

St. Mary already has eclipsed last year’s win total after back-to-back victories (Bucyrus 25-14, Fremont St. Joe 14-0) while Lakota had its two-game win streak halted in a 48-7 loss last week to Willard.

“We’re back to the drawing board. We’ve got to get better,” Lakota coach Mike Lento said.

“We’ve put together two great practices,” he said Tuesday. “We’re really focusing on doing the right things. When we do those things, we’re a darn good football team. But when we don’t, and we saw that Friday, we’re not a good team.”

Meanwhile, he said the Panthers are starting to reap the benefits of turning things around.

“They’ve got a quality coaching staff that’s got a lot of years of experience. They’re very disciplined, they’re playing hard and they’re playing all four quarters,” Lento said. “They’re riding momentum. Put that together with a well-coached team and doing what you’re supposed to do, it makes for a good start to the season.

“They’re big up front, both offensively and defensively. We’ve struggled this year with the physicality up front. We’re challenging the guys,” he said. “And their quarterback does a great job of controlling the game. You put those two components together, and that’s why they’re 2-2 and coming off two wins.”

Hopewell-Loudon at Leipsic

Records: Hopewell-Loudon 2-2, 1-1 BVC; Leipsic 4-0, 2-0 BVC.

Last season: Leipsic 35-14

Outlook: There always are positives in a 47-0 win.

That seems like an obvious conclusion. But few expected Arcadia to challenge the Chieftains in the Week 4 matchup.

It didn’t.

But H-L coach Brian Colatruglio said last week was about execution, and the Chieftains did that.

“There were things that — even though it wasn’t as high a level of competition — still, it’s a varsity football team (Arlington) that scored 60 points the week before,” Colatruglio said. “We did things better than we had in other weeks.”

And now, from one extreme to the other.

The Chieftains travel to Leipsic, a 4-0 team (and the third undefeated team the Chieftains have faced so far), to take on a squad Colatruglio said doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses.

“They’re a pretty complete team. They’re very balanced on offense; they play great defense,” he said. “They’re good in the kicking game. … We think that we had some chances in Week 2 and 3, and we’re definitely not going over there to be their scout team. We’re going over there to give them everything we’ve got, and it’s a mindset of, ‘we want to win the game.'”

It figures to be difficult. On defense, the Vikings are led by middle linebacker Caleb Lammers, who leads the league in tackles with 55, and is tied for the lead for stops for a loss with 11. Quarterback Dylan Schroeder is second in the Blanchard Valley Conference with 686 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Hopewell-Loudon counters with CJ Smith and Donovan Bickelhaupt, who have 38 tackles each, and with Sam Stickley, third in the BVC in rushing with 440 yards, and first with nine touchdowns.

Colatruglio said he thinks his team can win. He just needs the players to believe that.

“Where we’re at right now, the big thing for us is just believing we can do it. We’re trying to establish a mindset where we’re good enough not just to compete but to win. And this is a team where — until we do it on the field — we’re still just talking about it.”

Buckeye Central at Upper Sandusky

Records: Buckeye Central (0-4, 0-1 N10); Upper Sandusky (2-2, 0-1 N10)

Last season: Upper Sandusky 28-12

Outlook: Both teams are hungry for wins in this conference tilt.

Upper Sandusky is looking to stop a two game slide. The Bucks’ skid has reached 16 games, and dates back to the ninth week of the 2016 season.

But each team comes in with different emotions from its last game, even if the final result was the same.

Upper Sandusky dropped a 49-6 decision to Colonel Crawford. It was a game that Rams’ coach Russell Hall hopes — and believes — his team learned from.

“The kids realize that to play better you have to practice harder,” Hall said. “They’re really getting after it. High intensity, more attention to detail than before, which is good. We’re hoping if we continue to get better, we can be in this game (against Buckeye Central), and it’s a winnable game — if we get better and do what we’re supposed to do. If not, it will be a very long game, and disappointing game.”

Bucks coach Rob Detterman, meanwhile, took some positives out of last week’s 34-0 loss to Wynford.

“We played hard, and we played well into the second half,” Detterman said. “A lot of times, we run into deep, experienced teams like that, where we start to wear down a little bit. We know that’s an issue we have with our low numbers. We try to condition and prepare for that, and we’re getting better as the season goes by of being able to hang a little longer with some of these teams.”

The Bucks only have 21 players on their roster, so the Rams — who have more than 50 — come into Friday’s game with that advantage.

But Hall said he’s impressed with BC.

“They are an extremely tough team. They’re not gonna quit for anybody, that’s for sure,” he said. They’re hard-nosed kids; they play extremely hard. Avery Baldosser is an extremely good football player. He plays every play as if it could win or lose the game, whether its on special teams, offense or defense, he’s very good. We have to know where he is.”

Detterman said he feels the same way about Rams’ tailback Nate McMillan.

“Nate McMillan is the key for us. We have to keep him inside the tackles. If he hits the edge on us, we’re gonna have a long night,” Detterman said. “The kid’s got a lot of speed and a lot of talent. He definitely is somebody who can be a gamechanger all by himself. He’s one of the more talented backs in the conference. We respect what he brings to the game, but they also have some other very talented players, a couple of good receivers. We have to respect that they can throw the ball around the field, they put up some passing yards. We can’t really just focus on McMillan, but we know that our No. 1 job is to stop him from getting outside.”

Hall said this week has been all about working hard and improving. He said the players have led that approach after the loss to Colonel Crawford.

“They called each other out in practice a couple times. They realize, we have to get better to win another football game,” Hall said. “Last week was really tough; it was a domino effect. We had a mistake on special teams, which led to a mistake on defense a couple times, which led to blowing assignments on offense, and it just kind of snowballed.

“A lot of coaches say you learn more from a loss than from a win,” Hall said. “And you know, personally, I wish we didn’t learn as much as we did last week.”

And if that’s the case, Detterman and his players have been learning way too much over the past two seasons. The coach said it’s about winning.

“We want to expect success. That’s been our message all year. We went 0-10 last year, and we’re off to a pretty poor start as far as wins and losses this year, but we’ve been putting in the work,” Detterman said. “We’ve been here every day this year, we’ve been here every day last year. We want to get something out of it. We don’t want to just play the games. We want to win the games. We’re coming with the attitude that we can win. We don’t want to show up just expecting to play. I expect my kids to show up with the attitude that we’re coming here to win. We want to come in and upset them on their home field.”

Bellevue at Toledo Start

Records: Bellevue 1-3; Start 1-3.

Last year: Bellevue, 50-9.

Outlook: Bellevue finally broke into the win column last week by dropping previously unbeaten — and former Northern Ohio League rival — Shelby 45-28 at home.

The win showed the Redmen how good they truly are – two of their three losses to start the year came by a combined five points (14-13 at Canton Central Catholic, 31-27 to unbeaten West Holmes).

Now the Division IV Redmen hit the road to face Division I Toledo Start.

A win would not only keep Bellevue’s momentum going, but also help show the Redmen how they compare to two other Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division foes. Start lost 27-24 at Clyde in the season opener, and fell 28-14 last week at home to Columbian.

Bellevue has the weapons to face Start.

Keegan Ray has thrown for 760 yards and seven touchdowns so far, and added another 226 yards on the ground.

Jake Holmer and Colton Ray also bolster the running game, with Holmer rushing for 277 yards and three TDs while Ray has four touchdowns and 144 yards rushing.

The receiving corps is led by Gavin Sparling’s 23 catches for 335 yards. Dalton Hay has 12 receptions for 191 yards and three touchdowns, and Hunter Martin has caught seven passes for 143 yards and another score.

Defensively, linebacker Jack Howey has 38 tackles while linemen Damien Hay and Ray have 28 and 25 respectively. Ray has also recorded three sacks while linebacker Tristan Singleton has picked off two passes.

— By The A-T sports staff