The Press Newspaper
First-year Clay football coach Mike Lee will have more information at this time next week, but as of Tuesday he admitted he knew “nothing” about the Eagles’ nearly half-century rivalry with the Waite Indians.
The two teams meet next Friday at Clay.
“Everything (preparation-wise) has been geared toward Northview last week and Perrysburg this week,” said Lee, whose team faces the Yellow Jackets this Friday and beat Northview 28-3 last week. “I guess I’ll find out about Waite Saturday morning. One game at a time. I don’t know anything about Waite other than they got beat by Genoa last week.”
The Indians got off to a rough start against the Comets, trailing 40-0 in the first quarter en route to a 65-13 loss. Waite lost three of its four fumbles and had four interceptions.
“Genoa is a first-class program,” Waite coach Gardner Howard said. “They are where we want to be. For our team, about 16 kids played in their first varsity game and got an eye-opening experience. Our defense has got to get better at the fundamentals like tackling, pursuing and being physical.
“Offensively, we did some really good things but we had entirely too many turnovers. Our offensive line played well, but we have to correct the turnovers. We had seven turnovers and (gave up) a punt return for a TD, and we had another mental error on special teams. That can't happen. We amassed about 500 yards of offense, but we made too many mistakes. We have to do a better job of staying in the game when adversity comes.”
The Indians played two quarterbacks against Genoa. Junior Jeremy Pratt went 15-for-32 for 133 yards with three interceptions, and senior Tony Smith was 2-of-5 for 5 yards, with one interception and one scoring pass.
Waite will look for a much better performance against Clay, which leads the all-time series 31-11-3. The Eagles captured the Oil Barrel Trophy last year, winning 48-12 while scoring their second-most points ever against the Indians. Clay’s 2002 team won 56-0.
“They were very athletic and outplayed us in every facet of the game,” Howard said of last year’s game. “It was very disappointing. We have had to live with that bitter taste for an entire year.”
The Indians defeated the Eagles 13-0 in 2010 and 15-7 in 2011. Howard said he and his players still consider Clay to be a major rival, despite the fact that they now play in two different conferences.
“We definitely circle this one on the schedule,” Howard said. “We look forward to it, and we definetly want to recapture that Oil Barrel.”
Lee said the Eagles’ season-opening win over Northview, which traveled to Waite this Friday, pretty much resembled a season opener.
“For the most part it was a very well-played game by our defense and a very average game by our offense,” Lee said. “Overall, I was very pleased. Offensively we just were not in synch, and I’m not sure what to attribute that to. We had guys open and we’d overthrow them a little bit, or we’d have a great call and we’d give up a sack. Defensively, our kids flew to the ball and bailed us out at times after turnovers.”
Lee said senior linebackers Logan Davies, Michael Lee and Nick Stencel played an integral role in helping Clay hold Northview to about 90 total yards of offense.
“They probably went about 40 yards on their first drive to kick a field goal,” Lee said. “All the linebackers played really, really well. I really can’t single anybody out. Everybody was flying to the ball. Coach (Bill) Fisher has taken great pride in everybody flying to the football, and they did a great job.”
Junior running back Ryan Fournier led the Eagles offensively, rushing for 138 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries.
“We were not in synch throwing the ball, so we had to go to the ground,” Lee said. “Ryan had a real nice game. We went to the power game early and that provided us with a spark. The running game came alive, and that’s one of the things we take great pride in. We have to run the ball.”