Other local high school football matchups in Week 3
Thursday, September 12th
Fredericktown at Utica
Fredericktown (0-2) is winless after two weeks for the first time in years following Week 2’s 29-20 loss to Danville. The Freddies have completed just 24 out of 65 passes (37 percent). The running game, which gained just 70 yards against Highland in Week 1, came through with 277 yards last week. Also, after coverting all five of its two-point conversions in Week 1, Fredericktown made only 1-of-3 against the Blue Devils.
Utica (1-1) made three takeaways to build a lead in last week’s 38-30 win over East Knox. Running behind Travis Baldwin (31 carries, 188 yards), the Redskins controlled the line of scrimmage and the game tempo. QB Mitchell Marston was quietly effective, going 3-for-4 for 69 yards and a 34-yard TD pass. Utica still has issues on defense, surrendering 223 yards to EK runner Dylan Wears. Turnovers might be the key factor in this game.
East Knox at Mount Gilead
East Knox (1-1) got 223 yards on the ground from Dylan Wears last week, but turnovers helped Utica win the game, 38-30. QB Cody Howard threw for 107 yards on 9-of-18 passing to try to give the Bulldogs some balance. One missing element against the Redskins was Colton Rebel, who caught four TD passes in Week 1. He had three catches for 23 yards. Wears needs another big game to break down the opposing defense and allow the Howard-Rebel connection to find room to work.
Mount Gilead (0-2) lost its Week 2 game to Elgin, 52-18, after falling 30-13 to Colonel Crawford in the opener. The Indians lost much of their firepower to graduation, including both of its quarterbacks, Payton Vanderkooi and Brandon Young, and 700-yard rusher Tyler Bashaw. Michael Bland returns as a running back and a first-team Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference linebacker, and Kolby Fisher takes over at the QB spot as well as providing pressure from the linebacker spot. Youth and numbers are against Mount Gilead this year.
Highland at River Valley
Highland (2-0) relied on a pair of 100-yard rushers (James Cochran, Andrew Stillwell) as part of a 300-yard performance in a 35-26 win over Mount Vernon in Week 2. Cochran scored four touchdowns, including two in the crucial fourth quarter. The Scots rushers gave them an advantage of over 10 minutes in time of possession, which allows them to face tired defenses late in games. Highland still has work to do on defense, as they are susceptable to the big play (two MV scores of 58 yards or more).
River Valley (2-0) earned its first-ever victory over Marion Harding on Friday, 41-14. The Vikings ground attack gained 322 total yards, and QB Matt Green passed for 92 yards, including 83 in the first half alone. Running back Dylan Kelley ran just six times, but still gained 151 yards and scored three touchdowns, one a 54-yarder. River Valley’s ability to run the ball matches Highland’s, and the game will come down to which defense can control the other’s ground game.
Commentary by mountvernonnews.com readers