Prep football, Week 7: Dreams of flying

A-T FILE PHOTO BY REBECCA PADULA Mohawk ball carrier Landen Snyder finds an opening as Seneca East defenders Wyatt Sanders (2) and Skyler Walker (30) attempt to tackle him Sept. 27 in Attica.

Mohawk at Bucyrus

Records: Mohawk 3-3, 1-2 N10; Bucyrus 3-3, 2-1 N10

Last year: Mohawk, 35-0.

Outlook: Bucyrus is not the same team of the last few seasons.

After giving Seneca East all it could handle for about three quarters, the Redmen went on the road and beat Carey 16-9 and then routed Buckeye Central.

“They have one of the best if not the best quarterback in the league (Ben Seibert),” Mohawk coach Eric Daniel said. “They got some great skill players and are good up front. I should have anticipated they would be better than we thought because they have a lot of seniors back from last year.

“A lot of people might have overlooked them. They have some good losses. They haven’t lost to any slouches or any teams like that this year.”

Seibert is 52 of 115 passing (45%) for 874 yards. He has eight touchdowns and four picks. His top target is Jalen Zehner, who has 25 grabs for 379 yards and four scores.

On the flip side, Mohawk’s offense has been better of late and a little more dynamic with the dual-threat Landen Snyder at the QB spot.

Snyder pressures defenses with his legs along with his arm.

Running back Jesse Leeth has carried the Mohawk offense this season with 454 yards on 80 carries. He has eight TDs.

“They run like a 3-3 stack and they send a lot of varying pressure at you. It’s hard to replicate in practice because we don’t run a 3-3 stack and a couple of their linebackers really flow and tackle well,” Daniel said of Bucyrus defense.

“They’re just much improved. In terms of their offense and defense … they are just running a scheme that suits them and their kids have bought in. It’s going to be a tough game. We are just trying to get healthy and play the best four quarters we can and see where the cards fall in the end.”

St. Joe at Hopewell-Loudon

Records: St. Joe 2-4, 1-2 SBC River; Hopewell-Loudon 2-4, 1-1 SBC River.

Last season: Did not play.

Outlook: Hopewell-Loudon coach Brian Colatruglio said that his quarterback, Ashton Bour, played his most complete game of the season last week in a 37-22 win over Pymatuning Valley.

“You could just see the progress he’s making from week to week,” Colatruglio said.

And his team played its best game of the season.

“Part of it is, we’re getting healthier,” the Chieftains coach said. “Having (linebacker) CJ Smith come back and play defense last week, he showed up and made a bunch of tackles in his first real action of the season. That helped. We’re starting to get some guys back, and when you’re this young, every game you play, it’s more experience.”

Now, Colatruglio is hoping to see that continue against St. Joe.

“Continue to improve defensively; run defense was the best that it’s been,” Colatruglio said. “We need to continue to make that improvement.”

H-L hopes it happens against the Streaks, who are led by quarterback Chase Harrison. Harrison has thrown for 717 yards and six touchdowns. He also has been picked off seven times. Harrison also is the team’s leading rusher, with 185 yards on the ground and two scores.

St. Joe’s Grant Stepanic is one of the league’s top receivers, with 385 yards and four touchdowns off 33 catches.

In addition, Colatruglio said the Streaks come at you with a look the Chieftains haven’t seen.

“Scheme-wise, they’re way different than anybody else that we play,” he said. “They’re empty all the time, a lot of motion, and just the different … it’s just different. They’re pretty balanced out of that, they have a lot of different guys that touch the ball, and their quarterback’s a big strong kid, and they spread it around pretty well.”

Carey at No. 7 Seneca East

Records: Carey 2-4, 2-1 N10; Seneca East 6-0, 3-0 N10

Last season: Seneca East 34-27.

Outlook: Carey coach Jonathon Mershman knows that Friday night likely is to be a tough game.

His team is going up against an unbeaten team, and a state-ranked team.

But Mershman believes the Blue Devils can play with the Tigers, just as they have nearly every year.

His players just need to believe it.

“We just have to believe in ourselves going into this game,” Mershman said. “We’ve lost some close games this year. Once we get that whole thing together where we believe that we can play with teams, we’re a pretty dangerous team. So, I’m hoping we can believe in ourselves and come out fired up, ready to go. They’re a tough team, so, mentally, we’re gonna have to be prepared.”

The Blue Devils started 1-4, but bounced back last week with a lopsided win over Upper Sandusky. Carey’s quarterback, Ethan Beringer, has thrown for 635 yards and three touchdowns this season, while also running for 328 yards and three scores. Receiver Cade Crawford also has stepped up, catching 24 passes for 228 yards and two scores.

Seneca East coach Ed Phillips said this is not the wishbone Blue Devils fans are used to seeing.

“Offensively, they’re pretty multiple now, compared to the good old days,” he said, “but they present a challenge on offense. They’ll get in three backs, and then they’ll get in four wides. Completely different personalities, and they’re very good at both.”

Seneca East’s defense also is pretty good. The Tigers have allowed just 12 points over the last two games. The Tigers have three of the league’s top pass rushers, as Logan Hicks has a league-best nine sacks, Logan Hicks is second in the league with five, and Skyler Walker is tied for third with 3 ½.

That’s good, but Phillips said he’s looking for more big plays.

“We’ve tackled very well, and up front, we’ve controlled the line of scrimmage and played really physical,” he said. “I think the next step for us is — and we emphasized it (Tuesday) — we need to attack the football and create a few more turnovers, because early in the season we were, and now we’ve kind of gone through a little stretch here where we haven’t gotten as many, but part of that is a credit to the team you play.”

As for his offense, Phillips wants some more discipline. The team has had some miscues in recent weeks. Not enough to cost it a game, but still concerning.

“It’s really important, because eventually, it gets you,” Phillips said. “We’ve gotten better. We’ve taken care of some of the things that get you, and I think our ball security has improved. But, it’s still not good enough.

“And penalty-wise, we had to clean some things up there,” he said. “This is a really important opponent for us to do that against, because Carey’s got a great defense, and they do some good things on offense, so they’re a formidable opponent that we need to make sure we’re ready for.”

Carey’s defense is paced by Conor Williams, who is second in the league with 71 tackles, and first in the league with 17 tackles for a loss.

Mershman knows his defense will be tested by the Tigers big offensive line, as well as the running back Walker, who has 674 yards on the ground, and eight touchdowns.

And then of course there’s quarterback Chase Foos, who has thrown for nearly 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns.

“Their running back, I know wasn’t the man last year, but he’s returning,” Mershman said. “He ran the ball quite a few times. So, he’s got some experience, and the quarterback is dangerous. The’ve got a a lot of strengths, we’ve just got to find that one that we can take away, and limit them to one or two, instead of five.”

Upper Sandusky at Wynford

Records: Upper Sandusky 2-4, 1-2 N10; Wynford 3-3, 2-1 N10

Last season: Wynford 51-14.

Outlook: Upper Sandusky comes into this week with a tough test against Wynford.

It’s the Rams’ seventh game of the season, and coach Russell Hall said he sees some positives from his group.

“We’re still showing signs of improvement, which is fantastic,” Hall said. “One of my goals during the season is to get better every week, and we are doing certain things better every week. On defense, we are doing better reading and getting off blocks. And on offense, we’re to the point right now where, on any given play, it could go really big.”

That can happen when you have the N10’s pass yardage leader, Mason Vent, and the league’s top receiver — by far — in Diago Cazares.

Cazaras has 24 receptions for 640 yards. That’s a more than 250-yard advantage on the next closest N10 receiver.

But as Hall said, it doesn’t matter if something breaks down.

And it did last week against Carey.

The Rams were tied with the Blue Devils at 7 when Carey blocked a punt and recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.

Carey went on to win, 49-20.

Hall said it’s easy to lose sight of the value of special teams play from the outside.

“Unless something bad happens, it’s kind of unsaid,” Hall said. “We pointed that out right away, and are trying to fix it and get better. It happens when one kid does something they’re not supposed to do. It’s also a learning opportunity, where you have to do your 1/11th. If you don’t do your 1/11th, it doesn’t matter if it’s offense, defense or special teams, the play just won’t work.”

It will need to work against Wynford, who is coming in off a loss to No. 7 Seneca East.

Hall said he’s impressed with the Royals quarterback, Dustin Brady. The signal caller has thrown for 981 yards and nine touchdowns.

Seth Benadict and Lucas Hackworth also rate as two of the N10’s top receivers.

“Their quarterback play is really, really good in league play so far,” Hall said. (Brady’s) got to be completing around 70 percent of his passes, so he’s getting better and better as the season goes. The receivers do an unbelievable job running precise routes and watching the ball all the way in.”

And that’s just the offense.

“On defense, they do a really nice job,” Hall said.

Wynford’s Carson Heinlen has 10 ½ tackles for a loss, while teammate Cody Taylor has 3 ½ sacks. He has 9 ½ stops for a loss.

Rossford at Fostoria

Records: Rossford 4-2, 2-1; Fostoria 4-2, 2-1.

Last year: Fostoria, 36-34 OT.

Outlook: Friday’s game means a lot to the host Redmen. The fact the winner takes over sole possession of second in the Northern Buckeye Conference isn’t part of that criteria.

Last year’s win against the Bulldogs was just the first by the Redmen under coach Derek Kidwell — he took over in 2014 — and only the second for them since the NBC started in 2011.

“There’s no more incentive needed. It’s Rossford, it’s homecoming, it’s a three-game win streak for us,” Kidwell said. “We don’t need any more incentive or any more makeup to it, it’s a high school football game against an opponent we’ve only beaten once (in my tenure), so we’ll have our hands full as it is, so we’ll just get our kids mentally prepared as we normally do and go in on Friday and give it our best effort.”

Both teams enter Friday’s contest with two-game win streaks, with Fostoria coming in on the heels of two game-winning drives in the fourth quarter (22-14 against Lake, 36-35 against Elmwood).

“Some fourth-quarter wins, but there’s still plenty of room where we can play a lot better. But any win’s better than a loss, so we’ll take it,” Kidwell said.

Getting another against Rossford won’t come easily, he said.

“Their offense has caused us problems for years, with their RPOs (run-pass options) and the way they check with the sideline first and then they call a play back to the field,” Kidwell said. “We’ve got to disguise our defense and disguise our coverages and we’ve got to get to our area of responsibility quickly because they’ve got an experienced quarterback who’s very capable of taking advantage if we make mental mistakes. We have to play very disciplined defense.”

He foresees a bit more success against Rossford’s 4-3 defense, which has allowed four teams to score at least 20 points so far.

“I think we should be able to put some points on the board, but I don’t think it’ll be a 7-6 football game,” Kidwell said.

“I think we should be able to run the ball pretty effectively,” he said. “We still want to kind of be balanced, or be a little more heavy on the pass if we can protect our quarterback, but we definitely want to try to get our running game going early, by physical with them and see what happens.”

Lakota at Margaretta

Records: Lakota 1-6, 0-2; Margaretta 4-2, 3-0.

Last year: Margaretta, 24-21.

Outlook: Lakota’s had a rough start to the year. Injuries have certainly played a role in that, with some veteran Raiders having their season cut short while some younger ones have been thrust into starting roles.

It’s led to a few blowout losses, but only after opposing teams found a way to break away after a challenging first half. Lakota coach Mike Lento said that’s something the Raiders are trying to turn around.

“I think our biggest issue is, when we come into it, I think we do well for the first half on any given play. But it’s having our young guys step up in the second half (that’s a challenge). I think other teams find out where our young guys are after the first half,” Lento said.

“I told them, ‘Here’s the challenge, starting with Margaretta on out: ‘Can our young guys step up and make plays when coaches go into halftime for 10 minutes to make adjustments?’ I don’t think we’re being outcoached, I don’t think we’re being outplayed, I don’t think we’re being outschemed,” he said. “I think what’s happening is, we’re just seeing (opposing teams’) seniors go against sophomores and I’m challenging our sophomores and our freshmen (to step up).”

It’s a big challenge with Margaretta.

The Polar Bears lead the Sandusky Bay Conference River Division in passing, with Spencer Michel already throwing for 1,415 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Mitch Raifsnider has been his biggest target, literally, leading the River Division in receptions (57), receiving yards (751) and TD catches (9). He appeared to suffer an injury late in last week’s win over Calvert.

Clay Teschner (19-302, 2 TDs) and Daltyn Wiedbrauk (15-226, 3 TDs) offer other targets for passes, with Brycetyn Hedden (90-545, 7 TDs) heading up the run game.

It’s all helped Polar Bears win their last four games and sit tied atop the River Division standings.

“They’ve won a lot of games here recently, so they’re on a win streak. They have a very interesting quarterback,” Lento said. “They’re doing a great job spreading the ball around. Their go-to guy is the Raifsnider kid, he’s just a load. He’s 6-6 and can move. He falls forward, he gets 5 yards. They’ve got athletes all over the place.”

But the Raiders counter with the River Division’s No. 2 overall rushing attack (1,407) and its best running back in Trevor Franks, who enters with 913 rushing yards and 11 TDs on the ground.

Franks is also a force on defense. He’s second in the River Division in both tackles (54) and sacks (5). Teammate David Frye leads the division with six sacks.

“Our kids are doing a great job, our coaches are doing a great job and we’re just going to continue fighting and doing what we do,” Lento said. “Since our first win against Woodmore, we’re 0-3 so we’ve got a team that’s hungry right now, and a hungry team can always be dangerous.”

Colonel Crawford at Buckeye Central

Records: Colonel Crawford 3-3, 1-2 N10; Buckeye Central 0-6, 0-3 N10

Last year: Colonel Crawford, 61-6.

Outlook: The identity of Colonel Crawford has not changed this season. It wants to run the football and it shows with top rusher Tristan Cross.

Cross is leading the N10 in rushing with 828 yards through six games. He has 136 attempts, which is 47 more than Seneca East’s Skyler Walker — the second-leading rusher. Cross has 11 touchdowns. Ethan Suter is the second rusher, as he adds five scores.

“They want to run the football, there’s no doubt about it,” Bucks coach Chad Jensen said. “There’s no secret, they want to line up and run the football right at you. They are very physical. They have a lot of power formations and they’ll switch things up with the pass some times, but they basically line up and run it right at you and you have to stop it.

“That’s been our focus is to combat their physicality because that’s what they are going to do.”

Quarterback Brock Ritzhaupt has thrown for 545 yards on just 37 completions. The Eagles will do both, but if the Bucks don’t stop the run first, it will be a long night.

It might be the same case for the Eagles’ defense as BC’s Jacob Maxhimer is a load out of the backfield. He has rushed for 389 yards on 72 attempts after missing the first few games this season. He’s averaging 129.7 yards per game.

“Just like their offense, they are very aggressive. Their linebackers are playing run and they come at you,” Jensen said. “They play really hard and are really well coached. They just want to pound you, pound you and pound you … and you have to try to slow them down.”

After a close 34-26 loss to Upper Sandusky, the Bucks regressed last week with a 53-6 loss to a good Bucyrus team.

“I felt like we weren’t physical enough last week and Bucyrus out-physicaled us last week,” Jensen said. “We know what we are going to see from Crawford but we have to raise our intensity and play aggressive.

“We have to be more aggressive and more physical and that was the biggest thing we worked on this week.”

Bellevue at Perkins

Records: Bellevue 4-2, 0-1 SBC Lake; Perkins 3-3, 0-1 SBC Lake

Last year: Perkins, 17-14.

Outlook: Even after a tough loss, Bellevue has to like its chances at Perkins this week as the Redmen did a good job against Norwalk’s running game last week in a loss.

Perkins will test the Redmen again with the run, this time with a converted linemen –Tai Carter.

Carter, who is tough to bring down, has 99 carries for 591 yards and eight TDs this season. Teammate Chris Campbell has 89 rushes for 463 yards and four scores.

Campbell, who is the QB has 638 yards passing and nine scores. The leading receiver is Cameron Smith with 11 grabs for 169 yards and a TD.

The Redmen started well again last week, but the lead against Norwalk fizzled away.

Caleb Marshall is still the key for Perkins’ defense. Bellevue’s first-year receiver has 22 grabs for 461 yards and nine TDs, which leads the SBC Lake.

Keegan Ray has thrown for 761 yards, but only has a TD-INT ratio of 8-7 this season.

Whomever controls the line of scrimmage and stops the run game will win the contest.