BELLVILLE — Clear Fork Colts varsity football coach Dave Carroll marked the second anniversary of the last time that his team lost a regular season football game — October 28, 2016 — with just another day of business as usual. Along with the 20-0 regular season mark (over two seasons) and a pair of Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference titles, the Colts trounced Clearview in the first round of last year’s OHSAA playoffs, 44-0, but were shot down by Bellevue, 21-13, the following week. This year, the goal is to rise further in the Division IV playoffs, but they will have to beat this year’s first-round opponent, the Bryan Golden Bears, who the Colts will host Saturday night at 7 p.m.
The Bears (7-3) finished off the 2018 season, piling up 394 yards of offense in a 41-7 shellacking of Evergreen. The Colts are preparing for the Bears spread offense, led by quarterback Nate Miller (337 yards passing, last Friday), who can strike from anywhere on the field.
“Their whole offense revolves around their quarterback,” Carroll said. “Miller has thrown for over 1,800 yards and he’s the leading rusher, by far, with around 500, so it kind of begins and ends with him.”
That also means that the Colts will need to keep a lid on Bryan receivers like Titus Rohrer (111 yards, last week) and Brycen Andrews (149 receiving yards, last week).
“We have to be real sound and not let those guys get behind us and get big plays,” Carroll said. “They’ll also throw a lot of underneath stuff. If you take away the top stuff, they’ll throw slants, screens and so forth, so they can throw to all areas of the field.”
The Bears can run as well. Most of the time, they don’t run, unless they have to. Miller’s two feet are as dangerous as his arm, if he is flushed out of the pocket, but he can also hand the ball to Dom James (four carries, 25 yards, last week) and Drew Peters (13 carries, 41 yards, last week).
That’s going to place the pressure, squarely on the shoulders of Clear Fork’s linebackers. On the inside, for Clear Fork, are 200-pound Jay Swainhart and 175-pound Tacoma Orr. Carroll’s outside linebackers are Trevon Trammell (180 pounds) and Gabe Blauser. Trammell doubles as running back and Blauser as a receiver (he kicks and punts as well); both can cover plenty of ground.
“We also have Dylan Belcher, who can play both inside and outside,” Carroll said. “They’ll be instrumental in stopping (Bryan’s) pass game.”
In contrast, The Colts will establish the running game in order to set up their pass attack and to eat up the clock, while keeping the ball out of Miller’s hands. Trammell and Collin Crider, along with Zach Homerick head the running attack. The Colts can throw, as well, to keep the Bears off balance. Carroll platoons senior Jerrad Schaefer (12 touchdown passes in 2018) and Brennan South (11 TD passes) in the signal caller spot. They are a couple of QBs that are, pretty much, interchangeable. Both tossed the ball for over 1,000 yards this season, and both can be counted on for their experience and skill. They can throw to A.J. Blubaugh, Caden Flynn, Brady Tedrow, Lucas Kearns and Homerick (in the slot). Guys like Swainhart, Orr and Blauser provide an extra option from the tight end spot.
“Flynn has just, quietly, worked his way into being a star player,” Carroll. “He has 21 catches, but it’s for 695 yards — about 33 yards per catch average. He has nine touchdown catches, two more as our kick returner and another as our punt returner, so this kid is really special. He’s being recruited by Mount Union. He’s just 5-foot-10, but he continues to lift and he’s gotten faster and faster. Then, there’s A.J. Blubaugh (30 catches and seven TDs) who’s not as fast, but he has these freakish hands. He’s also got really long arms and legs and he can catch anything you throw at him, plus he runs great routes.”