Central Ohio media have billed the Friday night clash between Fort Loramie (2-1) and Newark Catholic (1-0) as the state’s premier weekend battle in Division VII.
Another outlet stuck out its neck “before the season even started” and said that Week 4 in Shelby County could be a preview of a state-semifinal.
Yet another predicted, “We’re not pulling your leg. Maybe a state championship game between these two?”
Who knows about any of this in early September, right? After all, we media folks like to stir the pot and “create” hot headlines to catch the sports readers’ attention.
But this time, we’re not blowing smoke. You can expect something like five touchdowns to four or six scores to five on the gridiron this Friday night.
Why not? Last year at Newark, the Green Wave prevailed, barely, 41-40, by denying a last half-minute two-point conversion. Fort Loramie then recovered an onside kick but a pass from midfield fell incomplete as time expired. Three times the Redskins led by a touchdown in this game.
Twenty talented seniors return from that Newark Catholic squad which advanced all the way to the state championship last year before being blown out by Marion local. The Flyers had thumped the Redskins a few weeks earlier. NC played in the state semifinal in 2020, losing to Warren John F. Kennedy which was then routed by state champ New Bremen.
Football tradition at Newark Catholic is extraordinary. The school has earned nine state titles on the gridiron. Its reputation speaks for itself. Having played only one contest so far this season, NC was ranked fourth in the state this week.
ScoresBroadcast.com will be on the scene on Friday at the Redskins’ stadium for all the exciting play-by-play. The pregame and coaches conversations can be heard at 6:25 p.m. WMVR, Hits 105.5 FM, simulcasts the contest.
Redskins head coach Spencer Wells said his club must run the ball a little better and, on defense, prevent NC star running back Mason Hackett from getting loose for big gainers. He rumbled for 145 yards against Fort Loramie last season including a 67-yard dash for a score. He toted the ball for 98 yards in one half of play in NC’s lone game two weeks ago.
Newark Catholic and Bishop Ready did not square off on the first Saturday of the season because of weather, which didn’t cooperate on Sunday either. Columbus Academy mourned the death of a student prior to the third weekend of the season. As it turned out, the Green Wave could not secure another opponent.
So, Fort Loramie has seen on tape only one 2022 NC game, a 45-0 continuous clock runaway against Nelsonville-York… Advantage Green Wave.
Newark Catholic might be a little stale two weekends into September with only a single game under it belt… Advantage Fort Loramie.
Senior quarterback Caleb Maurer of Fort Lormaie versus sophomore quarterback Miller Hutchison of Newark… Advantage Redskins, as well.
Hutchison replaces Cole Canter, NC’s quarterback sensation in 2021. Canter threw for over 2,300 yards and 32 touchdowns during the campaign.
Coach Spencer Wells hopes his squad can make Hutchison a little uncomfortable in his first varsity game on the road. Meanwhile, NC fifth-year mentor Ryan Aiello fears Maurer.
“He came out firing on all cylinders last year at our place,” Aiello said, noting Fort Loramie bolted to leads of 7-0, 14-6 and 21-13 in the first half. Maurer led the Redskins to touchdowns on their first three possessions before a stunned home crowd.
Then NC exploded for huge, game-swinging plays that included a Hail Mary strike on the final play of the first half and a kickoff return for six more points.
“Hackett is much too good for one or two of our defenders to stop him in his tracks,” Wells said. “We have to rally to the ball.”
The NC back is 5-10 and 200 pounds. He is “like a human bowling ball,” the Redskins coach added.
Fort Loramie’s offensive line has really started to jell and must play even better on Friday to boost the running game, Wells alluded.
He highlighted the performances of tackles Louis Hart and Calvin Hoying; guards Jason Siegel and Nate Boerger; and center Roger Hoying.
“We have to win the war in the trenches,” Wells asserted.
Fort Loramie has been very difficult to slow down through the air. Logan Eilerman and Isaac Raterman are each averaging about 15 yards per catch. Christian McGee and Ethan Keiser round out a quartet of big play receivers.
Will Holland and Darren Eilerman provide a solid one-two punch in the rushing attack.
Maurer, who is 50-of-80 for 800 yards in three games, could be Friday’s difference-maker, with his arm and legs, both.
“He can sling the ball 40 to 50 yards spot on from various arm angles,” Aiello said. “Fort Loramie’s well-designed screens, intermediate crossing throws and down-field vertical passing game are tough to replicate in practice.”
“Plus, the Loramie QB is a threat to take off and sprint away from pursuit.”
Aiello said his club will have its hands full “with a band of Redskins on the warpath,” just like last year. “It could be another instant classic.”
With Marion Local in D-VI this season, Friday’s game could be the first of a pair between the Redskins and Green Wave in 2022.
The other could be in late November or possibly early December up in northeast Ohio. The two schools might be powerhouses by playoff time.
“No joke,” Media reps east of Columbus have made it a point to say. “The teams have the potential to be that good.”