Week one football previews
After months and months of waiting, high school football returns in full glory this evening as all four county schools will take the field to open the 2012 season.
Two squads have aspirations of returning to the state playoffs where they were a year ago, while the other two are hoping to put the struggles of last season behind them and look to build a brighter future.
London vs. Urbana
Every fan of every high school football program across the state is excited about their chances of having a successful season, even fans of a team like the Red Raiders who come into 2012 following a disappointing 4-6 campaign.
Once again London opens the season against Urbana, a state playoff qualifying team a year ago, and a squad expected to be tough again.
When the two teams hooked up a year ago in the opener it was the Hillclimbers who escaped with a thrilling 35-34 3OT victory. No one can say for sure that things might have ended up differently for either team if the score had gone the other way, but confidence can go a long way and there’s no doubting which team had it following last year’s opener.
You can bet the London players haven’t forgotten how that loss felt and are going to be ready to enact some revenge.
The Hillclimbers come into the game with one of the best young quarterbacks in the entire state of Ohio in sophomore Nathan Mays. As a freshman he threw for just under 1,900 yards with 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions during the regular season, those two interceptions however came in the game against the Red Raiders.
“We need to play near-mistake free football,” Wasserman said. “We need to take care of the ball, we put it on the ground three times against them last year. If we can eliminate game-changing mistakes we’re going to have a good chance to win.”
West Jefferson vs. Mechanicsburg
There are games you look at on the schedule prior to the start of the season and have a pretty good idea how it’s going to turn out, this Week 1 affair is a classic example.
West Jeff is once again loaded with talented athletes and is expected to make a run at another Mid-State League championship and a state playoff berth. Mechanicsburg on the other hand is coming off a 3-7 season in which it lost its final five games.
If ever there was a time where Mechanicsburg was going to sneak up on the Roughriders, the opening week of the high school football season probably wouldn’t be the place.
“Everybody’s focused,” West Jefferson coach Shawn Buescher, “at least they better be. We’ve got to be able to focus on the moment, that’s something we preach to the guys. We can’t get caught thinking about what’s coming up tomorrow or the next week.”
The WJ coaching staff expects Mechanicsburg to come prepared and ready to play.
“They take a lot of pride in their program and so we know they’re going to be ready to go,” Buescher said. “We’ve got to be consistent in every aspect of the game. It’s early so there are going to be mistakes we make now that we won’t be making later in the year.”
Jonathan Alder @ Thomas Worthington
The Pioneers have been in the state playoffs each of the past 11 years, the journey for a 12th straight state post-season date starts tonight when they travel to Thomas Worthington.
Without a league championship to aim for, Jonathan Alder, an independent, takes pride in its playoff streak and openly admits that the postseason is the goal.
“We’re not in a league so trying to make the playoffs is our top goal,” Pioneers coach Steve Coate said.
Facing the Cardinals, a bigger school which plays in the largest conference in the state, will once again pose some difficulties.
“For us it’s a challenge,” the coach said. “They’re a D-I school, an (Ohio Capital Conference) school so we know we’re going to be challenged. Coach (Scott) Gordon will have them well-coached and they’re going to give us a lot of different looks.”
The Cards will once again run their offense out of various spread looks, a staple under Gordon and will try and confuse the JA offense with multiple defensive fronts.
“He’s been very successful running that offense and I’m sure we’re going to see a lot of that. We need to hold onto the ball and take advantage of our opportunities when we get them.”
Alder won last year’s game 37-0 en route to an undefeated regular season. Thomas Worthington finished the year 4-6.
Madison-Plains vs. Cedarville
The last time the Golden Eagles were on the field in a game that counted, they were pounded by rival London 73-7 to close out the 2011 season. That loss came just a week after another thumping at the hands of 58-13 Clinton-Massie. In fact in the games that Madison-Plains lost last year they were outscored a total of 330-80.
MPHS was 3-7 a year ago and will try and put the horrific images from a season ago behind it when it opens up tonight at home against Cedarville.
For all of the challenges the the Eagles faced last year, one of few bright spots came in the form of a 27-0 shutout of the Indians last year in the season opener.
Coach Mike Siders knows that his team must take care of the football and make smart decisions if they want to open the season 1-0.
“We’ve got to eliminate turnovers,” the coach said, “and overcome mental mistakes.”
The Eagles have put in a lot of work over the off-season and Siders likes where his team is entering the season.
“We’re coming off a good scrimmage and the guys are really coming together as a team,” he said. “We’ve got some key players back from a year ago and we’re looking forward to getting started.”