For as much success as the Lehman Cavaliers have had on the football field, opening night has not been good to them over the years.
After coming up empty in a long series with Anna to open the season, the Cavaliers took on Fort Recovery to open the current season last week. The Cavs fell behind 21-0 at the half and wound up losing 36-0 to the Indians, who have a lot back from a playoff team of a year ago.
“They’re a good team and we knew that going in,” said Lehman head coach Dick Roll. “We threw an interception early and got behind 7-0 right off the bat. We didn’t play real well, but we did make some plays. We just have to be more consistent, and we have to come off the ball better. We weren’t as crisp as we would have liked, and part of that was probably nerves. A lot of these kids had never been in a varsity game.
“They say you make your most improvement between weeks one and two, so we’ll see what happens,” he added.
The opposition doesn’t get any easier, for sure. The Cavaliers play their first home game of the season Friday night at Sidney Memorial Stadium against a powerful Minster Wildcat team, which has a lot of talent returning from a team that rolled to the Division VI state championship last season.
Last week, Minster opened at home against Fort Loramie, and senior quarterback Josh Nixon put on a clinic, throwing for six touchdowns in the first half alone, and hitting 15 of the 19 passes he threw for 291 yards.
“I think Minster’s strength is their skill people, with obviously Nixon and then a couple of receivers,” said Roll. “They are quality kids. We have to prevent the big plays. We don’t expect to shut them down, but we need to try to slow them down.”
The Cavaliers need to get something going on offense after a rough week last week. They had just 66 yards rushing and 80 yards passing on 5-for-21.
“We’re hoping we can throw the ball,” Roll said. “That’s where we’re at now. Overall, our pass blocking was pretty good last week, but our run blocking wasn’t. We have to improve.”
Toward that end, Roll has simplified things for now.
“We cut down to about five running plays and five passing plays,” he said. “We really cut down while we try to come up with an identity and see where we’re at. We’re going into this game like we do every game. We want to play and see what happens, and we’re not going to shy away from them.”
He said Owen Smith had a good game from his defensive back spot last week at Recovery. He finished with 14 tackles, seven unassisted.
“He’s a safety, but we had him up in the box a lot,” said Roll. “He did a good job.”
Reach Ken Barhorst at 937-538-4818.