When the Lake and Eastwood football teams match up on the turf at Lake Community Stadium this Friday, expect a contrast in style.
Eastwood employs the Wing-T offense, runs the ball at will and usually
has just one wide receiver on the field on a given down. Lake, meanwhile,
runs a spread offense that features four- and five-wide receiver sets and
likes to get the ball out in space to its athletes.
On top of that, Eastwood coach Jerry Rutherford is now in his 31st season coaching the Eagles and Lake coach Bob Olwin, after having success at Versailles and Sherwood Fairview, is in his first year with the Flyers.
What they do have in common? Both will be looking for a vic
Eastwood sophomore free saety Devin Snowden(20) pops a
tory to open Northern Buckeye Conference play after both experienced tough non-league losses.
After going 11-1 and advancing to the Division IV regional semifinals in 2011, Eastwood has begun the season 0-2 after opening against two quality opponents. In Week 2, the Eagles fell to Clyde (28-23) and they lost the season opener to Patrick Henry (40-28), two powerhouse programs. Rutherford says a win to begin the conference season would do wonders to build momentum for them following a slow start to the season.
Despite the Eagles' rough start, Rutherford is pleased with the effort his team has put forth thus far.
“We've had a couple of tough games,” Rutherford said. “Patrick Henry and Clyde are really good. We're playing a lot of young guys and they're growing up in a hurry. We still like that we're improving. We still think we have a pretty good football team. (The kids) are doing everything we ask. Getting some wins will really help with the confidence. We play a tough schedule — we know that you're going to lose games sometimes, (but) our kids have been working hard.”
Eastwood's running game has been effective, but has yet to hit its stride. In the first two games, junior running back Brent Schlumbohm had 29 carries for 155 yards and two touchdowns while Isaiah Conkle rushed 24 times for 93 yards and a touchdown. Conkle also returned an 83-yard kickoff for a touchdown in the season opener against Patrick Henry.
Lake, which stands at 1-1, defeated Swanton, 55-23, in Week 1, before falling to a talented Northwood team, 70-26, the following week.
After just two games, sophomore quarterback Jared Rettig has completed 39-of-66 passes for 720 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions. He's also done damage on the ground, running for 97 yards on 24 carries and a score. Wide receiver Ben Swartz has eight catches for 192 yards and two touchdowns while fellow receiver Chris Salaz has 11 catches for 185 yards and three touchdowns.
The Eagles have dominated the series as of late, going 10-0 over the last decade against the Flyers. Only three of those games have been competitive with Eastwood winning the other seven by at least 31 points each time. The series dates back to 1960, when both schools were in the Northern Lakes League.
Rutherford talked about how his team plans to defend the spread.
“Anytime you play the spread, the first thing is, if you can move the ball that's important,” Rutherford said, noting that sometimes the best defense is a good offense. “If we can establish our offense and our running game and use up the clock that would be helpful. The other thing is you have to eliminate the big plays (defensively). We know they have some good athletes and with the spread, you have to tackle in space.”
Olwin, whose team had trouble stopping Northwood's rushing attack, hopes his club has more success this time around.
“You've got to put (them) in long-yardage situations and make them pass,” Olwin said. “You have to be disciplined because they're good at (running their offense). We're trying to be more fundamentally sound on the defensive line and not let them have big carries on first and second down. You've got to neutralize it in that fashion and get some turnovers. We have to be fundamentally sound on defense and be good about our assignments. If we can score, that can put some pressure on them.”