Roughriders brace for defending state champs
By Chris Miles
Former NFL coaching great Bill Parcells once coined the famous line, “You are what your record says you are,” it was in response to players, fans and even coaches using the thought process that a team is somehow better or worse than their overall record.
It’s clearly not fair to pass judgement on a team after just one game, but as local high school teams prepare for the second week of the season, the notable Parcells line could probably start being used after this weekend.
All four county schools will be back in action Friday night with kickoffs slated for 7:30 p.m.
West Jefferson (1-0) vs. Marion Local (1-0)
There are very few games on a regular season schedule that will generate as much excitement as this one figures to stir up.
The host Roughriders (1-0) welcome in the reigning Division V state champions Maria Stein Marion Local Flyers in a match-up between squads with state championship aspirations for 2012.
But while the buzz around the game is understandable, West Jefferson coach Shawn Buescher is determined to make sure his players don’t get caught up in the hype.
“They’re a great football team, the returning state champion and is going to be a great challenge for our team,” Buescher said. “I do think our kids have a good understanding of what’s at stake. We’ve also played in a number of big games over the years, so our guys know what this environment is all about.”
WJ rolled through its season opener 40-20 over visiting Mechanicsburg, but while the outcome was never in doubt, Buescher said his team needs to keep working on getting better.
“We need to work on developing consistency,” the coach said. “At times we looked pretty good (against Mechanicsburg) but there was a span there in the second quarter where we struggled to finish drives. Defensively there are things that we need to work on too.”
But as for what’s at stake, the winner will likely snag a large chunk of state playoff computer points, as both teams look to have the makings of squads destined for post-season play.
“They’re a very sound football team with special talent,” Buescher said of the Flyers. “But let’s not forget that it’s still early and we have a chance of getting a lot better.”
Jonathan Alder (1-0) at Marysville (0-1)
Another week, another Division I opponent for the Pioneers (1-0).
Jonathan Alder for the second week in a row will travel to play a bigger school on the road, but just like last week will be rewarded nicely if they can find a way to pull out a victory tonight at neighboring Marysville (0-1).
“Marysville is a solid football team,” Alder coach Steve Coate said. “They’re another D-I school and another OCC team. They’ve had their share of success over the years and are always well coached.”
The Monarchs (0-1) were upended by Hilliard Bradley 17-10 last week, while Alder was taking care of business with a 28-6 defeat of Thomas Worthington.
Playing bigger schools has become the norm for the Pioneers as they continue to search for strong competition.
“We’ve slowly had teams drop from our schedule over the years,” Coate said, “but the Marysville game is one we’d like to keep on the schedule as long as we can play at their level. It’s two great communities who do a good job of supporting their teams.”
Alder got off to a slow start in its opener at Thomas Worthington last week, but really started to get things rolling after the halftime break. The Pioneer coaching staff is hoping to see a more consistent effort from their kids this week.
“We need to be more consistent all around,” Coate said. “Our offensive line blocking, the way our guys are running the ball, the way we tackle. It just needs to be more consistent.”
Madison-Plains (1-0) vs. Gamble Montessori (0-1)
The Golden Eagles (1-0) opened the season with an impressive 35-7 victory over Cedarville last week, and now coach Mike Siders’ team will attempt to make it two in a row when it welcomes in Cincinnati Gamble Montessori (0-1).
The Gators, 51-0 Week 1 losers against Cincinnati Shroder, are a virtual unknown to football fans in Central Ohio, but Siders and his coaching staff watched their opening game and came away with reasons to worry.
“They’re a young ball club,” Siders said, “an up and coming team that plays hard. Not many people around here know a lot about them, but they’re big up front and have some good skill kids. They’re trying to build a solid program.”
The coach said his team must continue to work on holding onto the ball and making smart decisions when they have it.
“We had a couple mistakes on Friday and we need to work on those,” he said.
London (0-1) vs. Hamilton Township (1-0)
The Red Raiders took one on the chin in Week 1 with a tough 65-14 loss to visiting Urbana. They’ll try and avoid another staggering blow when they play host to Hamilton Township (1-0) tonight in a non-league clash.
The Rangers scored 52 points in their opener and London coach Jerry Wasserman knows that his team’s Week 2 opponent is just as talented as the group they played in the opener.
“This week isn’t going to be any easier,” Wasserman said. “We’ve got a stiff challenge ahead of us. They run a lot of the same sets we run. They do a lot of the things we like to do. The thing is there is no way for us to assimilate their speed.”
The Rangers are especially loaded at running back and on the outside and feature a number of lightning quick players who are capable of making big plays from anywhere on the field.
“They’ve got speed and size up front,” Wasserman said. “We’ve got to be able to adjust to that. We’re definitely fighting an uphill battle. But there’s a reason they play these games, you never know how they’re going to turn out.”
“We’ve got to tackle better,” he said. “We had all types of problems against Urbana just making simple tackles.”