Reser, No. 5 Senecas head to Gibsonburg

First-year Calvert coach returns to take on program he led for last seven seasons

Steve Reser said he’s never been in a situation like the one facing him tonight in Gibsonburg.

The first-year Calvert coach returns to take on the team he led for the previous seven seasons, and also guided to three-consecutive postseason appearances.

“I always care about kids, every coach does,” said Reser, who has the Senecas off to a 3-0 start and ranked fifth in the first Division VII state poll. “I’ve never cared more for the other team than I will Friday night. I’ve never been in a situation before as a head coach, I’ve never been in that situation as an assistant coach, to go coach a great group of young men, that I just had the pleasure to be with for several years, and to go out there and coach against them.”

But Reser said for all the emotion involved, the mission tonight is no different than it is for any other game.

“It’s what we do, but there is some emotional things in there. But those will come out after the game,” he said. “During the game, we’re playing a game of football, our young men who wear the blue, need to know what our mission is, and what we’re gonna try to do, and work together. After that, obviously, I’ll look to seek out some old relationships, and say hello and wish the best for them. But there’s no doubt, we have one goal, one job Friday night, and that’s to go to Gibsonburg and win a football game.”

Calvert is coming off a big win, a 33-14 thrashing of regional power Norwalk St. Paul. It ended a 29-game winning streak for the Flyers.

But now the Senecas will need to focus on the Golden Bears, who won their first two games before falling last week to fourth-ranked Mohawk, 16-0.

Reser said he was impressed with what Gibsonburg’s D did against the Warriors. It played solid in the red zone and held Mohawk scoreless for the first half.

“When Mohawk did get down deep in Gibsonburg’s territory, Gibsonburg’s defense stood up to the challenge,” Reser said. “Gibsonburg’s defense is no joke. They’ve got some nice size in the middle, a couple of great football players. They have good D-ends, they have a couple nice linebackers, there’s no doubt the team we’re gonna face Friday night in Gibsonburg is athletic.”

And the offense can be tough. Before being shut out in Week 3, the Golden Bears had put up 58 points in victories over Elmwood and Woodmore.

“Gibsonburg does a great job on offense,” Reser said. “They run a wing-T variety, and I’ll tell you what, they hit the front side a lot, they hit the back side a lot, they do just enough so that you can’t necessarily focus on one part of their game, because they will run it strong side, they’ll run it weak side.”

Gibsonburg has three backs who have more than 100 yards rushing. Brad Mendoza leads the team with 205 yards on the ground, while Theo Hernandez (168) and Jon Auld (107) are proven threats.

But Reser said Gibsonburg’s wing-T doesn’t overly rely on the run.

“They’ll throw the ball; they’ve done a great job of mixing it up,” Reser said, “and again, in the backfield with their quarterback, he’s very athletic.”

Gibsonburg quarterback Addison Weaver comes into tonight’s contest 7 of 17 passing for 163 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

“Obviously we’re hoping to match up well with them,” Reser said. “It’s gonna come down to some 1-on-1 matchups on the defense, where we’re going to have to win, or they’re gonna do some things we don’t like.”

Meanwhile, the Calvert coach said he’s looking for one thing he hasn’t seen yet this season:

A complete game.

In Week 1, the Senecas led Monroeville just 22-19 at the half, before winning 59-27. They were up on their Week 2 opponent, Danville, 20-14, at the break before Austin Jones and Trent Cooper erupted for a 39-21 victory. Then, last week in Norwalk, Calvert trailed St. Paul 14-6 before outscoring the Flyers 27-0 over the final two quarters.

“I think that so far, we’ve come out and we’ve hung steady in the first half, but we really have turned it on in the second half,” Reser said. “So I want to see our guys come out, our young men have worked hard all week, just like they have every week. I want to see our guys come out and have some success in the first half. Whether it’s offensively or defensively, I just want to see us play a solid football game, from the first quarter to the fourth, instead of just the third and the fourth.”

This will be the fourth-consecutive season Calvert and Gibsonburg have met. Former conference rivals in the Toledo Area Athletic Conference, this will be the first game between the two in the Sandusky Bay Conference River Division.

Reser’s Golden Bears were 1-2 against Calvert in the past three meetings. Tonight’s game will be the conference opener for each team.

After beating St. Paul and then finding out it’s ranking in The Associated Press poll, Reser said he has stressed that he wants focus from his team.

“Our goal is to win a football game, and we’ve talked about it,” he said. “First of all, you can’t believe the hype. All those things people are saying, we need to believe in us. We don’t need to believe in any hype, just what we have, our core, our family … after that, we just hope to get better every week.”

Kickoff is at 7 p.m. in Gibsonburg.