Galion head coach Chris Hawkins didn’t call this week’s game at Jonathan Alder a “must-win” contest, but he said he and the Tigers’ coaching staff have made it clear to the team that a positive outcome in Plain City is highly important.
“I think it’s a crossroads game for us,” Hawkins said after practice on Tuesday. “It’s a league game and it’s a game that can have an effect on the postseason. I don’t think the league champion will go undefeated this year like Pleasant did last year, but we can’t take a second loss at this point, either. It’s a big game for us.”
Galion (3-1, 0-1 Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference) enters play with a sense of urgency this week after falling to Buckeye Valley in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference Red Division opener last Friday. The Barons rallied from a 13-0 deficit in the first quarter to pull off a 38-32 victory at Unckrich Stadium.
Hawkins said his ballclub may have fallen victim to believing the hype of a 3-0 start to the season that featured three consecutive shut-out wins.
“Kids see and hear what the media is saying is about them and just get caught up in that sometimes,” he said. “We told them that Buckeye Valley was a good ballclub, that they would be much better than they were last year. We made mistakes on defense and we need to get those cleaned up for this week, because we play another really good team.”
Jonathan Alder (3-1, 1-0 MOAC) picked up a huge win over defending Red Division champion Pleasant last Friday. The Pioneers handed the Spartans a 48-14 defeat in Marion.
“(Alder) has a good quarterback and a nice running back,” said Hawkins. “They’ve been good on defense, too. They’re a solid team with good balance.”
Quarterback Preston Eisnaugle has completed 50-of-77 passes for 700 yards and six touchdowns with three interceptions. Running back Sean Sullivan, a first-team All-MOAC selection in 2014, is averaging 4 yards per carry and has rushed for 319 yards and two touchdowns. Trey Pugh (6-5, 230 lbs.) is one of the top wideouts in the MOAC with 27 receptions for 338 yards and three touchdowns. Pugh also has 27 tackles and two sacks for the Pioneers.
In the win over Pleasant, Eisnaugle passed for 152 yards and two touchdowns — 32 yards to Pugh and 56 yards to Dean Karkut. Fullback Austin Fooce rushed for two scores. Sullivan scored on a 21-yard run and Eisnaugle scored on a 1-yard run.
Hawkins said that junior Chase Cooke will get the start at quarterback this week with senior Jacob Fryer being used as a slot receiver or in the backfield along with senior running back Drake Barnett. Barnett has rushed for an MOAC-best 782 yards and 14 touchdowns through four games. He’s averaging 12.4 yards per carry and 195.5 yards per game.
Alder defeated Galion 41-24 last season at Unckrich Stadium. Sullivan rushed for 183 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries in the 2014 match-up. The Pioneers rolled up 444 total yards, including 286 yards rushing.
Colonel Crawford (3-1, 2-1 N10) at Bucyrus (1-3, 0-2 N10)
The Redmen upset the Eagles 29-27 last season in Week 5, a defeat which ultimately kept Colonel Crawford out of the postseason.
Colonel Crawford rebounded from a Week 3 loss to Wynford with a 42-18 drubbing of Seneca East in Week 4. Eagles quarterback Will Kirkpatrick leads the Northern 10 in rushing with 672 yards and eight touchdowns. Kirkpatrick has passed for 270 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Blake Treisch has rushed for 314 yards and six scores. Wideout Owen Adams has 18 catches for 209 yards and three touchdowns.
Bucyrus is giving up 39 points per game and has suffered two shutouts so far this season. Junior quarterback Gavin Lewis has passed for 358 yards and three touchdowns, but has completed just 52 percent of his passing attempts. Logan Tackett and Zackary Patterson are 1-2 in tackles in the N10. Tackett leads with 53 and Patterson has 52.
East Knox (0-4, 0-1 MOAC) at Northmor (1-3, 0-1 MOAC)
The Bulldogs are seeking their first win this week and the Knights hope to put the brakes on a two-game losing skid.
After being blown out by Danville (62-13) in Week 1, East Knox lost close games to Utica (32-27) and Strasburg-Franklin (34-26) before being blown out in the MOAC Blue Division opener by Highland (41-0).
Demetrius Johnson leads the Knights with 257 rushing yards and three touchdowns. He’s caught seven passes for 113 yards and two scores. Gunnar Lilly has 145 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Frank Keller is the top receiver with 176 yards. He’s caught one TD pass. Quarterback Jake Farley has passed for 382 yards and three touchdowns.
Western Reserve Academy (2-2) at Crestline (0-4)
Western Reserve Academy has posted wins over Reigning Sports Academy (46-6) and Matthews (33-26), while dropping games to Hawken Upper (28-20) and Brookside (43-26).
The Bulldogs are still seeking their first victory. Crestline lost a close game to Bucyrus in Week 2, 25-17, but has struggled to find offense in its other three outings.
Reach Carter at 419-468-1117, ext. 2048, or on Twitter @ACGalionSports.