at Seneca East
Records: Monroeville 0-2; Seneca East 1-1
Coaches: Monroeville, Dan Periat; Seneca East, Ed Phillips
Last week: Monroeville dropped a 31-6 decision to Edison while Seneca East fell a point short of Upper Sandusky, 28-27.
Outlook: Despite dropping a heartbreaker at Upper Sandusky last week, Phillips is happy with the progress his team has made.
"From where we were at after the preview, we had a long way to go," he said. "We improved tremendously week 1, and last week, Upper presented a big challenge for us. I think we played pretty well, just fell a little short there."
In the loss, quarterback Ethan Caudill threw for 292 yards on 41 attempts. Phillips said he'd like to see a little more balance in his offense, but won't take the ball out of Caudill's hands.
"We're going to keep throwing the ball, but we look to get a little more balance," he said. "We believe we can run the football. Upper's strength is up front. They got good size and really good linebackers. We felt the way to take advantage of them is to get in space, not fight them in a phone booth."
Phillips is confident in the playmaking ability of his entire offense, acknowledging his team has mulitple weapons on the outside, evidenced by the fact that four of the Midland Athletic League's top five receivers are Seneca East Tigers.
"Before the season I thought we had some pretty good playmakers," he said. "Some of them are young, but I thought they could do the job and they've proven me right. The young guys are stepping up and making plays."
When Monroeville comes to town Friday, Phillips is expecting a team to be more balanced than in years past.
"They have a pretty balanced team. They've opened it up this year. They run some spread and got some good receivers. They're a good, well -balanced team," Phillips said. "(Rick) Heck and (Levi) Anderson in the backfield are tough. Heck is a tough runner at the fullback position. They got some explosive players in Anderson and a couple receivers."
The way Monroeville uses their playmakers on the defensive side of the ball might create some issues for the Tiger offense.
"Up front, some of those playmakers on offensive side, they stick on their defense line," Phillips said. "They way they use their outside linebackers and strong safety, they play kind of like the old Oklahoma 50. They put playmakers right up on the line of scrimmage."
Records: Both 0-2
Last week: Carey fell to Bluffton 28-22; Riverdale was shut out by Upper Scioto Valley, 38-0.
Coaches: Riverdale Jeremy Kloepfer; Carey Todd Worst.
Last year: Didn't play.
Outlook: Both teams are winless, but there's a very apparent difference when you look at the teams' respective results in the first two weeks of this season:
Namely, the Falcons haven't scored a point yet.
In the first two weeks of 2013, Riverdale has faced Arlington and Upper Scioto Valley, and been outscored 105-0.
"They got a young group of kids, I think," Worst said. "Their kids are playing hard.
"(They're) not being as consistent as they need to be successful," Worst said. "We're right there with them."
Carey comes in 0-2, but Worst said the Blue Devils made strides last week against Bluffton.
"We were better up front, I thought," Worst said. "Just not good enough."
Records: Both 1-1.
Last week: Toledo Christian defeated Woodward, 14-6; Hopewell-Loudon beat Elmwood, 32-8.
Coaches:Toledo Christian John Miller; Hopewell-Loudon Jeremy Nutter.
Last year: Didn't play.
Outlook: These teams didn't clash in 2012, so there's a degree of mystery about this game to Nutter.
He said Toledo Christian shows multiple things offensively.
"They're shotgun spread, but they'll go anywhere from two back set to empty," he said. "They looked pretty effective offensively; the quarterback can run."
On defense, the Eagles also show different things.
"With so few games under the belt, it's hard to tell," Nutter said when asked about Toledo Christian's defensive alignment. "It looks like they want to be in the 4-4."
Despite last week's lopsided win, Nutter said H-L still can improve.
"We still made our fair share of errors," Nutter said. "We still have a lot of things we need to clean up."
But the positives certainly outweighed the negatives, particularly in the running game, where Cody Malone broke out for 167 yards and four touchdowns, perhaps emerging as one of the better backs in the Midland Athletic League.
Nutter was asked how important it was to go into MAL play (which starts next week) with a winning record.
The coach didn't bite.
"Every week is its own week," he said. "Our level, anything can happen, we are only taking on one team, that's Toledo Christian."
Records: Upper Sandusky 2-0; Mohawk 0-2.
Last week: Upper Sandusky beat Seneca East 28-27; Mohawk lost at Wynford, 34-13.
Coaches: Upper Sandusky Jake Moyer; Mohawk Erik Baker.
Last year: Upper Sandusky beat the Warriors 38-13.
Outlook: Mohawk graduate and former Mohawk coach Moyer is in his final season, meaning this will be the last time he goes up against his alma mater.
Moyer did play down the personal aspect of Friday's game.
"It's another game, another game we want to win," Moyer said. "I know a lot of people over there. I have friends over there. Erik Baker is my friend. We have this saying: 'We love each other 51 weeks a year. On the 52nd week, we don't speak.'"
For his part, Baker introduced some Star Wars comparisons when asked about Moyer.
"Jake is like Obi-Wan Kenobi," Baker said. "He may leave the sidelines in this role, but he will never really leave football. His 'Force' is the love of the game, and I hope he enjoys his next round of adventures as much as he has the previous 40 years."
Upper Sandusky is looking to run unblemished through its three-week run against Midland Athletic League teams, having scored victories against Carey and Seneca East to start its season. Mohawk is looking for its first win after multiple touchdown losses to Marion Pleasant and Wynford.
But Moyer said there is no way the Rams can afford to take the Warriors lightly.
"Never take anything for granted," Moyer said, "because as soon as you start believing in your own press, you get your butt whooped."
Mohawk will return standout receiver Mitch Parker to its offense; he had missed the first two games due to illness. Baker also saw his team execute better after halftime against Wynford, something he hopes carries over.
"We will continue to build on what we were able to establish in the second half last week," he said. "Having Mitch Parker back from illness is certainly a factor in diversifying our offense."
The Warriors biggest charge may be containing quarterback/linebacker Tylor Pritchard, who has proven to be a force any time he's on the field.
"Tylor Pritchard is quite a physical presence," Baker said. "Similar to a Tyler Brause at Wynford a few years ago. He has fullback size, tailback speed and a big arm. He is the core of the Ram offense. Containing him will be a challenge in itself, but is compounded by the size of their offensive line ... easily the largest group of athletes we will see this season."
at Buckeye Central
Records: Plymouth 2-0; Buckeye Central 1-1
Last week: Plymouth pounded Crestline 53-21; the Bucks shut out Cardington-Lincoln, 26-0.
Coaches: Plymouth Mark Genders; Buckeye Central Jeff Niedermier.
Last year: Plymouth beat the Bucks 13-6.
Outlook: The Bucks' first win of the season also was a milestone for Niedermier, who recorded his first win as a varsity head coach.
"Great getting that first win out of the way," he said. "The kids had a lot of fun and played well."
It also was a game where BC established its running game. The Bucks racked up 353 yards on the ground last week, and four touchdowns. Cody Roberts had a breakout game with 189 yards and two scores, while teammate Alec Baldosser just missed out on the century mark in rushing with 98 yards and a pair of scores.
"We knew going into that game we'd have to establish our run, and we were able to do so," Niedermier said.
As for Plymouth, Niedermier said he's expecting a tight contest.
"It's been every year ... a physical game," Niedermier said. "It doesn't matter if one of our teams is down or if their team is down. We have to be at the right spots at the right time."
Last week: Cardinal Stritch lost to Woodmore, 56-6; Lakota beat Gibsonburg, 14-6.
Coaches: Brian Wical, Cardinal Stritch; Dave Vodika, Lakota.
Last year: Lakota won, 12-7.
Outlook: It's been a while since Lakota's been in this situation.
The Raiders haven't won two games in row since Weeks 2 and 3 last year, and they haven't started 3-0 - let alone won three games in a row - since 2009.
And while Lakota has matched the former and finds the Cardinals in the way of the latter, they aren't forgetting about what got them there.
"We celebrate Friday night," Vodika said. "One of the parents brings us donuts after each win, that's a big thing Saturday morning, then we get back to work. They hit the weight room, they run on the track, they are anxious to work.
"We're trying to keep an even keel, but we're feeling good that the plan is working," he said.
The plan gets its next test against an 0-2 group that fell 20-14 to Division III Woodward in the season opener before getting blasted 56-6 by Woodmore.
Although the records are opposite, Vodika said the Cardinals and their young coach are very similar to the Raiders.
"He's been like us, numbers have been something of a concern. There are similarities in the programs," Vodika said. "For us there's a lot of things in the world of sports to be concerned with, and handling success is just as hard as handling a loss.
"Certainly it's a situation where we need to come out and play, but I'm confident if we play like we're capable, we'll do well," he said.
Jordan Jaso had a big role in doing that last week, with a 77-yard TD run as part of a 192-yard night, and Vodika said the junior's emergence as a force has been very welcome.
"We were running the ball real successfully last week in the second half, taking time off the clock. We were kind of giving them a steady diet of (Jaso) for a while," he said.
"He started the year on the third team because we wanted to give him kind of rest since he'd be playing on defense, but he's hitting the hole and running well," he said. "All of a sudden, he's come alive."
at Sandusky Perkins
Last week: Bowling Green beat Fostoria 35-6; Perkins beat Sandusky 47-7.
Coaches: Jim Kelly, Fostoria; Jason Ziegler, Perkins.
Last year: Have never played.
Outlook: Fostoria's first game in school history against Perkins was going to be tough enough, but two of the Redmen will miss Friday's contest due to legal issues. While their absence will add to the challenges, the rest of the Redmen must move on, Kelly said.
"Our kids all know rules, team rules, school rules. We just basically talked about reiterating those and we've got to figure out a way to pick up from here," he said.
"They're resilient, they're survivors and they keep figuring out ways to come back. They come back from whatever adversity gets thrown at them," he said. "We're back at it. We've refocused."
The focus now turns to Perkins, and the 2-0 Pirates bring a lot to focus upon.
They scored on all but two of their possessions in last week's win over Sandusky, with touchdowns coming from a variety of players.
David Doster went 9 of 11 passing for 212 yards and a 71-yard TD strike to Kyle Lewis. He also ran for a 2-yard score.
Dale Irby combined for 162 all-purpose yards, including TD runs of 14 and 7 yards.
Treyvon Moore gained 53 yards on just six carries, with one being a 2-yard scoring run. John Work man (3) and Juwan Minnifield (4) also had short touchdown runs.
"They're one of the better groups of kids we've seen around here for a long time, and that's coming from someone who's had to see Ottawa-Glandorf and Genoa," Kelly said. "They're just something else. They've got several [NCAA] Division I kids who play all over the field.
"They're a complete football team in every way and they're hitting on all cylinders right now," he said.
The Redmen (0-2) hope to get there, and Kelly said they're taking steps toward that goal. However, it's a challenge made more difficult by having to suddenly fill holes in the backfield on offense and linebacker corps on defense.
"We've got some different guys in different positions starting. We're just focusing on basics because of that. As silly as it sounds, we just to take it one game at a time, one play at a time and just kind of think in those terms," Kelly said.
"I do think from Week 1 to Week 2, we did a lot of things a lot better," he said. "We ran the ball a lot better. Showing some signs of some things up front that we're going better."
-The A-T sports staff