By SCOTT COTTOS
If any of Fostoria High School’s football players had themselves on a pedestal after a 3-0 start to the season, coach Derek Kidwell figures they got knocked off of it last Friday night.
The Redmen’s first 3-0 start since 2008 extended no further when Otsego delivered a 42-21 beating at Memorial Stadium. The Knights took a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter and kept FHS at arm’s length the rest of the way in the teams’ opening game of the Northern Buckeye Conference schedule.
“I talked to them Friday night on the field,” Kidwell said. “I said, ‘You can stop reading the papers. Fantasyland’s over. You can go back to high school football. You’re not a perfect team anymore.’ Not that we thought we were (perfect). But now we’ve got a chink in our armor. We’ve got something to look at, to critique, and we’ve got to go back to work.’ And I think our kids have responded.”
Kidwell said preparations for Friday night’s 7 p.m. NBC contest at Woodmore (1-3, 0-1) began the next morning, with the players reporting back bothered, but not crushed.
“It was against a quality opponent,” Kidwell said of the loss. “If we play them 10 times, we may be lucky to win five of them. It was a matchup against someone we knew was a good, quality football team coming in here. They came back Saturday upset, rightfully so, watched film, saw their mistakes, learned from their mistakes. We’ve had a good week of practice so far this week. I like the attitude. I like the energy.”
Here are five things to know as the Redmen and Wildcats gear up for Friday’s game:
SHOWING GRIT: Kidwell said his players didn’t waver in their effort after finding themselves down three scores early. Fostoria’s second and final turnover of the game, early in the second half, took away a chance to draw within one touchdown.
“We had it down to 21-7 and we had the ball coming out in the second half and we were driving and we turned the ball over,” Kidwell said. “It was an effort play where one of our receivers was just trying to get more yards and fumbled the ball.
“If you get it to 21-14, you never know. But we didn’t. I liked our kids’ fight. They didn’t quit. They weren’t bickering among each other. They played hard. You’ve just got to play better against good teams and we didn’t play well.”
MAINTAINING FOCUS: Many factors may have played into why it happened, but Kidwell now believes his team wasn’t fully ready to play against Otsego.
“I don’t think they’re 21 points better than us, but they made enough plays to go up 21,” he said. “But I didn’t like our Thursday practice. I addressed it to our team. I thought there was a little too much chatter last Thursday at practice, and I told our team after the practice that I didn’t like it.
“I was trusting that that’s just the type of team they were and we would see Friday night if that mattered or not. Personally, I think it did matter because we weren’t focused enough. So, that has been addressed with our seniors. We had a senior meeting Saturday morning, and we went over some things because the season’s not lost. Some of the goals our kids set are still attainable. That was one of the things that I addressed to them: I don’t want as much chatter. I don’t want as much goofing off on Thursday walk-throughs as we had last week. Probably, we weren’t as focused as we should have been, and I’ll take the blame for that, being the head coach. But it won’t happen again.”
GROUND ATTACK: Kidwell said the Redmen’s running game hasn’t been as good as he would like and he’s not going to stop trying to get it going.
“It’s still a point of emphasis for us,” he said. “We’re still trying. We’ve got three linemen who really haven’t had any varsity experience until this year, so we’re still trying to work the kinks out. And we’ll continue to try to work on it because we need to be a better running football team.
“It’s just a matter of managing the game. If you can run the ball, if you’re not one-dimensional, it’s harder for people to bring pressure at you. We’re going to make a conscious effort this week to try to do better running the ball.”
HITTING THE ROAD: A scheduling quirk has Fostoria traveling to play only three times this season, with Friday night marking their first.
Playing away from Memorial Stadium shouldn’t rattle his veteran squad, Kidwell said.
“It’s not a big deal to worry about,” he said. “All it is, is you’re with your team longer. We’ll hop on the bus at 4 rather than having our kids come here at 5. We’ll have white jerseys on rather than black jerseys. But the field is still 100 yards (long) and 53 wide, so things aren’t going to change. We’re still playing 12-minute quarters. The ball’s still the same shape. We’ll put 11 people on the field.
“I’ve always liked traveling and being the road team. I just like the challenge of going on the road and competing and winning in people’s home stadiums.”
ABOUT THE WILDCATS: Woodmore’s only victory was a 19-14 decision over winless Toledo Christian in Week 2, and it is coming off a 58-28 loss to Rossford last week.
Kidwell said the Wildcats have used various offensive attacks this season under the direction of senior quarterback Donovan Reyes and have run their defense from a 3-3 base.
“You watch film on them and they’re a little undersized,” Kidwell said. “They look young. I think coach (Lou) Bosh is doing a good job of trying to build the program the way he wants it.
“It’s a game where I think we have a lot of advantages. Hopefully, we can go up there and our offensive and defensive lines can control the line of scrimmage and dictate a lot of what happens. I think we’ve got good athletes on the perimeter, so hopefully our athletes can make plays for us. Defensively, hopefully we can stick to receivers a little closer (than last week), we can get to their quarterback a little more and we take their running game away.”