The prep football season is winding down in Champaign County, but there’s a little work left to do for a couple of area teams. Overall, the squads have faced a brutal schedule, but they keep fighting.
At Urbana, the Hillclimbers (1-6) travel to Tecumseh to take on the Arrows (3-4).
UHS Coach Jon Daniels was disappointed with his team after last week’s blowout loss to Bellefontaine, believing his squad was accepting excuses and deflecting blame.
This week, Urbana will need to finally take what it’s been practicing and make it a reality. According to Daniels, the squad looks excellent and works hard throughout the week.
At Graham, the Falcons (1-6) travel to Benjamin Logan to take on the undefeated Raiders.
“We’re going to go up there to Ben Logan and give them everything we’ve got,” Graham Coach A.J. Woods said. “They’re going to be ready for us and we’re going to be ready for them.”
Graham picked up its first victory against winless Greenon last week on homecoming, which could lead to a bit of a boost over the final stretch of the season.
“It was a great weekend for the kids. Varsity and jayvee both won. The kids here at Graham are great kids. We’re looking to turn the corner,” Woods said.
The Raiders are a much stronger team than Greenon, and their offense is terrific – and Woods knows it.
“We have to be extremely disciplined on the defensive side of the ball,” he said. “We’ve got to put them in situations where they’re behind the sticks and keep them off schedule.”
At West Liberty-Salem, the Tigers (3-4) are hosting Triad (1-6) in a battle of backyard rivals.
“I think anytime you get a chance to play a county rival, especially one with the games that have had this tradition, it’s exciting for the kids and the community,” WL-S Coach Dan McGill said. “Their kids play hard and anytime you have a team that plays with a lot of energy and emotion, that’s something you take notice of. Their quarterback’s an athlete. When he has time, he can hit his receivers and when things break down, he can make it happen with his legs.”
Triad quarterback Briley Harlan can indeed make all the plays, and Triad’s offense looks good when it’s rolling. That is a point McGill intends to hammer home with his defense, focusing on being coverage sound and containment sound.
“This is a new defense we’re running this year and we’re settling into some of those responsibilities,” he said.
At Mechanicsburg (7-0), the Indians are hosting Northeastern (3-4) in a battle that appears to be one-sided.
But M’burg Coach Kurt Forrest is keeping his guys focused on their opponent, no matter the level of expected resistance.
“(Northeastern) is going through some changes. They’re transitioning to more of a spread offense, so that takes time,” Forrest said, noting there are some tall receivers and quick backfield players for the Jets.
“We’ve got to be very assignment sound and play heavy and square up front,” he said.
Still, the end of the season is nearing and M’burg is eyeing the postseason.
“I tell the kids, ‘the weather is starting to get a little colder and the crops are coming out of the field. That means it’s title time. If you want something, this is the time you’ve got to go get it,’” Forrest said. “They’re so competitive. If there’s something to win, they want to go out and win it. They never want to come up on the short end of the stick.”
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.