The Fort Loramie Redskins have put last Saturday’s first half behind them. Four turnovers. Six penalties. Only a one-score lead that quickly evaporated in the third quarter.
But all too often history has repeated itself this season for Fort Loramie (5-6) and against very good teams, which have made the Redskins pay.
For sure, saying that Marion Local (11-0), Fort Loramie’s opponent on Saturday night, is “very good” is an understatement. The unbeaten Flyers are the landslide, top-ranked team in Ohio in Division VII.
Marion Local foes have crossed the goal line only once all season in the first quarter. And only twice in the fourth quarter. Despite some excellent football in the middle 60 percent of most contests, the Redskins have been ineffective, and downright sloppy at times, at the start and close of football games.
Saturday is supposed to be a calm, cool and sunny day. But for the Redskins to advance in the playoffs and knock off juggernaut Marion Local, change must be in the wind.
ScoresBroadcast.com and WMVR, 105.5 TAM FAM, offer the play-by-play online and on radio at 6:25 p.m.
Speedy quarterback Peyton Otte leads the Flyers ground-crunching attack with a dozen touchdowns and nearly 1,000 yards rushing. The Flyers run the ball for far more than twice the yards they throw it.
The defense is led by perhaps the state’s best D-VII nose tackle, Kevin Partington, who penetrates and then disrupts the opponents’ plays from scrimmage. The Flyers are giving up a mere 60 rushing yards per game and an incredibly low two yards per carry.
Marion Local also thrives on advantageous field position. The kicking, punting and coverage units excel. Opponent drive starts after kickoffs are repeatedly inside their own 25-yard line.
Fort Loramie, which has relied on the forward pass often this season, may do so even more tonight. The Redskins play pitch and catch for twice the yards they tote it. Although, sophomore running back Will Holland has boosted the red and black with better than 400 yards rushing the last three weeks.
Quarterback Caleb Maurer averages 13 yards per completion. He is connecting on his tosses at a 60 percent clip. He is elusive in the pocket and extends plays with his feet.
Rangy Logan Eilerman uses his length to create a great target for Maurer. He is pushing 100 receptions on the year. Gabe Meyer and Owen Pleiman are also reliable receivers when the Redskins display their air show.
Both head coaches, veteran Tim Goodwin at Marion local and fourth year mentor Spencer Wells of Fort Loramie, acknowledge they have prepared long and hard for Saturday’s battle in Marin Stein.
The last time the two clubs met was a regional semifinal tilt at St. Mary’s in 2019. After holding leads of 14-7 and 21-14, the Redskins had the Flyers on the ropes late in the fourth quarter. Marion Local forged a tie in the final seconds and won the contest on an overtime field goal.
Is another close encounter between the programs in the making? Yes, possibly, if the Redskins can shake the stagnant starts.
The two teams’ styles are in sharp contrast. And Fort Loramie prefers a game that is in contrast to most they have played this year, especially the opening 12 minutes.
The Flyers’ incredible “D” stops opponents in their tracks and permits less than nine points per game. The Redskins and their vaunted aerial attack are piling up four touchdowns per contest.
Interestingly, Marion Local opponents have had occasional success throwing against the Flyers and are averaging 13 yards per catch.
Something has to give. The Redskins hope that a change, in their favor, is “in the air.”