Senecas hope to get offense rolling vs. Bears

PHOTO BY STEVE WILLIAMS Calvert's Mitch Nielsen fights off tackle of Norwalk St. Paul's Lars Livengood to gain extra yards Saturday at Frost-Kalnow Stadium.

Calvert is starting Sandusky Bay Conference River Division play with — perhaps — its toughest league rival.

Gibsonburg, the 2018 conference champion, comes to Tiffin tonight for a 7 p.m. contest.

The game will be played at Hoernemann Stadium at Heidelberg University.

It figures to be difficult game for the Senecas, who are coming in off back-to-back non-conference losses in which they did not score a touchdown.

Meanwhile, the Golden Bears — a program Calvert coach Steve Reser once led — come in at 3-0. They beat Ottawa Hills 38-14 in Week 1. In the last two weeks, Gibsonburg’s defense has not allowed a point. It shut out Woodmore 19-0, and Mohawk’s only points last week came when Tyler Hayman returned an interception for a score. Gibsonburg beat the Warriors 23-6.

“Essentially, no offensive points (allowed) in their last game, we’ve been struggling on offense to get things going,” Reser said. “So that combination, hopefully, will get itself worked out and get us on the board there.”

Reser said Calvert hasn’t made any radical changes to its offense.

“We’ve played a little more attention to detail,” Reser said, “but we haven’t changed everything, we haven’t thrown in the towel. We’ve been trying to get better at what we do, to make sure that we can take care of opportunities other defenses give us. Hopefully we do a little bit better job of that (tonight).”

But its own offense isn’t the only thing that concerns the Senecas.

Gibsonburg’s offense also presents problems. Tailback Hunter Smith averages more than six yards a rush on 41 carries. Teammate Theo Hernandez has run for 229 yards on 18 carries, an average of more than eight yards a rush.

Quarterback Mitch Tille hasn’t thrown the ball much — he’s only completed 10 of 17 passes for 174 yards. But the Bears can hurt you with the pass. Receiver Jesse Arriaga has three receptions for 65 yards.

“Their quarterback does a great job of running the game, just kind of distributing that ball to whoever they feel needs to have it,” Reser said. “They have several targets. Last week against Mohawk, they had three or four different guys (get the ball) on fourth-down conversions, just keep drives going. So they definitely give you your hands full when we’re on defense.”

The game will be in a different setting; Columbian is hosting Start at Frost-Kalnow Stadium, where the Senecas home games usually are. So tonight’s game is at HU.

Reser said the team hasn’t done anything differently to prepare for the different home field.

“No, I think our kids are jacked about getting the opportunity to play at Heidelberg,” he said. “We’re treating it just like we do every other week. We haven’t done any special preparations … we believe our team feels pretty comfortable.”

The Senecas will have plenty of motivation. Tonight is the team’s first SBC River game, and it comes against the defending champs.

“Just the fact that we have this great matchup this early in league play, we’re very excited about it,” Reser said. “We feel like we played some decent football Week 1 (a win over Monroeville), and the last two weeks with Wynford and St. Paul, we feel like those are two pretty good football teams, so we feel like we have another great opportunity against a well-coached football team that plays very hard. We’re hoping to start out league play against last year’s league champs with a victory.”