Fliers happy to be playing another week

It is a chance at redemption.

Clyde coach Ryan Carter won’t admit that playing at a location that the Fliers suffered a tough loss is on his team’s mind. Back on Oct. 11, Clyde lost to Tiffin Columbian, 49-42.

“Already playing in Tiffin is not really a factor,” Carter said. “I don’t think so anyways. We have not given much thought to playing at a place we lost at. Just playing is fine by us.”

Eighth-seeded Clyde (7-4) will head back to Frost-Kalnow Stadium Saturday to face fourth-seeded Shelby (8-3). Clyde has not faced the Whippets since a 21-6 opening round win in the playoffs for the Fliers back in 2010.

“You have to stop multiple weapons for them on offense, which is why they are good,” said Carter of the Whippets. “The quarterback (McGwire Albert) throws it well and the running back (Owen Fisher) runs very hard. You can’t load the box or play a bunch of coverage. They hurt you in both ways.”

The 6-foot-5 Albert has completed 137 of 270 passes for 2,304 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also has 98 rushes for 683 yards and 11 touchdowns.

“Shelby is a very good and very well-coached team,” Carter said. “They do things the right way. (Fisher) is hard to bring down and (Albert) is big and strong and he throws and runs it very well. Their defense plays very fast and they have athletes at all positions. It will be a very tough matchup for us on both sides.”

Fisher adds 214 carries for 1,586 yards and 16 TD. He has 25 receptions for 478 yards.

“Our defensive line has been our biggest strength defensively,” first-year Shelby coach Rob Mahaney said. “It is led by Marek Albert, who has 15 sacks and 21 other tackles for loss. They do a great job of playing with their hands and using their speed. Offensively, we need to find a way to get Owen Fisher going. He has been our go-to guy, and to have a chance on Saturday, we need to find different ways to get him the ball.”

Blaine Bowman is the top receiver for the Whippets, racking up 33 catches for 636 yards and eight touchdowns, but Clyde will counter with a tough running game and an experienced quarterback in Ryan Lozier. The senior had three second-half passing touchdowns in last week’s 28-20 win at top-seeded Keystone.

“Ryan has been our leader on and off the field the entire year,” Carter said. “He plays with heart and plays the game the way it is supposed to be played. I am very proud of his entire year.”

Lozier has completed 115 of 180 passes for 1,636 yards and 14 touchdowns. He has 132 carries for 510 yards and 10 touchdowns.

“We have to do a better job of turnovers, special teams, and penalties,” Carter said. “That will come back and beat you if you don’t get better in those areas. You work on it in practice and focus on those things and hope it is better.”

Senior bruiser Gunner Golden has added 187 rushes for 949 yards and 16 touchdowns.

“I know that Clyde plays in the toughest conference in our area,” Mahaney said. “Because of that, they are extremely battle tested. They have really tough, physical running backs, and they do a great job of out-formationing you to get numbers in the run game. Their quarterback is also very good and he has some burners at receiver that make some big plays. Defensively, they do a great job of mixing up coverages. Their defensive line is long, fast, and athletic.”

Mahaney echoed Carter’s thoughts when it came to the turnover battle.

“We have to protect the football,” Mahaney said. “We can not afford to help a team as good as Clyde with good field position. Then we have to be able to make plays offensively when we get the opportunity. Most importantly, we have to tackle well defensively and find ways to slow Clyde down. We will not stop them because of who they are, but hopefully we can slow them down to give us a chance.”

Shelby was 5-5 last season, but advanced to the state semifinals in 2017 (13-1 record) and regional championship game in 2016 (11-2).

“Clyde is the best team we have played this year,” Mahaney said. “They are extremely well-coached, battle tested, and extremely physical. Playing in the Sandusky Bay Conference Lake is a tough task and they compete every single week.”

Nick Webb got the Fliers on the board against Keystone, jumpstarting a run of 28 straight points. He has 90 carries for 480 yards and three touchdowns. Carson Rieman is Lozier’s top target, having caught 57 passes for 796 yards and six touchdowns.

“We went down 14-0, but I did not think we played all that bad,” said Carter about last week. “Just bad things happened. We played well in the second half and I think we wore them down a little at the end.”

Of Carter’s seven seasons, Clyde has only opened the playoffs on the road once before this season. That was in 2017 when the Fliers went to Sandusky and won 35-0.

“To go on the road and win is big no matter when,” Carter said. “Then you put in the playoffs and being an 8 seed, it makes it bigger. I was proud of the way our kids prepared for the game and took all the outside stuff that we could not control and put it aside and just focused on playing football.”

Carter noted that the ever-evolving weather forces the Fliers to adjust.

“We have done this for the last seven or eight years when we get into weeks where the weather is not great,” Carter said. “We feel we get more out of inside practice so we go to Tiffin University when it gets really bad and we practice inside. We have had good practices so far this week. Everybody has their own opinion on this, but that is what has worked for us in the past.”

After winning regional semifinal games in each of Carter’s first two seasons in 2013 and 2014, the Fliers are 0-2 in such games since. No matter where they play or who they play or when they play, there is just one key for Clyde.

“We are just happy to still be playing and practicing,” Carter said.