Senecas back on road against Panthers

Sandusky St. Mary will do plenty of things to try and throw off a defense.

On Saturday, Calvert will attempt to figure the Panthers out. St. Mary is 2-5, but has lost its last three games.

But the Senecas, 6-1 and the No. 7 team in the state in Division VII, have some reason to be concerned.

Two of them have been close. The Panthers lost to Lakota, 36-35 in two overtimes Sept. 21, and fell 18-13 to Willard Sept. 28.

And Calvert coach Steve Reser said the Panthers’ offense is unpredictable.

“They’ve shown some games where they run the ball 75 percent of the time, then they come back the next week and they throw the ball 75 percent of the time,” Reser said. “They do have some nice athletes and some nice size as well. So, there’s no doubt that they have potential, but we still hope we’re doing the right things during the week to make sure that we go up there and we’re prepared to win a football game.”

St. Mary is led on offense by tailback Everett Samstag, who has carried the ball 108 times for 643 yards and five touchdowns.

“They do some nice things, they have a nice offense where they put an extra back — they actually put an extra back — they run a three back set where they have a back behind the line, and then they have two backs right behind (the quarterback),” Reser said. “The beauty of that is it gives them an extra gap up front without necessarily showing us a tight end or a wing before the snap of the ball. So they can move that big guy around that’s right behind the line, and do some different things, whether it’s trap, counter … they were doing a lot of old-school power.”

So discipline will be key for the Senecas’ defense.

“We have to make sure our young men understand the responsibilities on defense, and then we make sure we take care of the dive, the quarterback and the pitchman,” Reser said. “They put you in a pickle on defense. They do a nice job of doing it. We just hope we can fly to the football and flow well, and make good tackles.”

St. Mary has used two quarterbacks this season. Vinny Will started the season but was injured a few weeks ago. Michael Capizzi has taken over and completed 24-of-46 passes for 365 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. He’s also run for 106 yards this season.

“One thing that hasn’t changed really is their intent on offense,” Reser said. “What they’re trying to do seems to remain the same no matter who is at the quarterback position. So all we can do is get our defense ready to take care of those plays.”

Reser said the Panthers are solid on defense.

“Their defense, they do a nice job, a lot of times they put a guy on the center in their four-front, but they stick to a defense I think they’re comfortable in, and their young men make their reads out of that defense very well,” Reser said. “So that gives them the ability. If you can read fast, you can fly to the football. So I think they’re very well coached on defense; their young men understand the concepts of what they’re trying to do, and that creates tackles.

“They have a nice D-line as well,” he said. “So when those lineman take up linemen on our offense, that makes less blockers for the linebackers, and those linebackers do a great job of taking advantage of not being blocked.”

Last week against Danbury, Reser said he wanted to see his team get off to a fast start, and it did, taking a six-touchdown lead by halftime and coasting to a 54-14 win.

“That’s Priority No. 1 for us every week, and that’s not just on offense, that’s on both sides of the ball,” Reser said. “We don’t want to come out and continually not play to our potential in the first half. One of our goals is to play to our potential all the time.”

Calvert is loaded with weapons on both sides of the ball, from tailback/linebacker Austin Jones to quarterback Trent Cooper and defensive lineman Vinny Volpe and DB/receiver Nic Somodi. But a freshman emerged last week in tailback/defensive back Bob Price. He got into the game in the second half, and ran for 70 yards and a touchdown, while also snagging an interception.

“Bob Price did a great job,” Reser said. “When he got the ball, he did the most with it. He did a great job on defense as well. He understands what we’re trying to do, he runs hard.”

Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Saturday in Sandusky.