LORAIN — The Highland Scots have strung together nine-straight wins this fall, and they hope to continue that streak into the playoffs Friday, when they hit the road to take on Lorain Clearview.
With the whole school excited about the football postseason, Highland coach Chad Carpenter said one of his top tasks this week is keeping his team focused on Friday’s matchup.
“I want to make sure our kids are focused and ready to play,” Carpenter said. “I want to make sure we are where we need to be. There are a lot of unknowns. It’s easy to lose focus.”
Highland and Clearview had similar routes to the postseason. Both teams lost their first game of the fall, Highland to Bloom-Carroll (44-22) and Lorain to Amherst (33-0). Following the Week 1 losses, both teams marched through the remainder of the regular season with wins, posting a 9-1 record. Both teams won their respective conferences, the Scots in the Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference and the Clippers in the Patriot Athletic Conference Stripes Division.
The Scots closed out their regular season with two tough contests, beating 8-2 East Knox (50-7) and 9-1 Northmor (38-20). Those two wins locked up the conference title for Highland.
“It’s allowed us to play great competition and we have played well,” Carpenter said of the team’s two most recent wins. “They were big games and our kids were able to rise to the challenge and we played at a high level. We need to carry that in to this week.”
Highland’s bread and butter has been their rushing attack this year. The Scots have notched 3,403 yards on the ground this fall, thanks to their four stellar running backs in Brody Matthews (914 yards, 11 TDs), Tate Tobin (771 yards, 19 TDs), Brock Veley (746 yards, 6 TDs) and Jack Weaver (677 yards, 4 TDs).
Although their rushing attack is well-known around the area, this is the first time Carpenter and the Scots are taking on the Clippers. Both teams shared three game films and that is what each coaching staff has to gameplan from.
“We get three films and they get three films on us,” Carpenter said. “Trying to figure out a game plan on three films, with two in poor weather conditions, it’s tricky, but also fun and exciting.
“A lot of things we are going to figure out on the fly,” he continued. “We don’t know what else they have ran throughout the season.”
Drew Engle and David Renftle are the two names to watch for the Clippers as the team’s premiere tailbacks.
“They’re big and athletic,” Carpenter said. “They try to spread everybody out and run the ball. From what we’ve seen on film, they’re very good.”
Highland and Clearview both made the playoffs last year, but both suffered a first-round defeat. The Scots fell to St. Mary’s Memorial 48-8, while the Clippers lost to Clear Fork 44-0.
Although both teams come in with identical records, the Clippers have the better seed, at fourth, compared to the Scots in fifth. Clearview will host the game Saturday at 7 p.m. as the better seed.
“We really don’t care what seed we are,” Carpenter said. “Obviously, we would like to host a game, but luckily it’s not that far, so we are going to treat this like any other game.”