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Prep football: Toughest test yet for FHS

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Fostoria’s Skyler Garcia evades a Woodmore defender.

By SCOTT COTTOS
SPORTS EDITOR
If anyone wondered how Fostoria High School’s football team would react after its first loss of the season, they got a definitive answer last Friday night.
A week after a 42-21 whipping at the hands of Otsego, the Redmen bounced back to paste Woodmore 61-0 in their first road game of the season.
FHS coach Derek Kidwell said the outcome was as it should have been against the winless Wildcats.
“We just wanted to get better,” he said. “I talked to the kids about getting the bad taste out of their mouths and don’t play down to your competition. If we’re going to be good, we’ve got to put teams away, and we did. I liked that we came out in the second half and took our first drive down and scored. It showed a little focus.”
A mighty dose of focus and many other ingredients will be necessary come 7 p.m. on Friday when Fostoria (4-1, 1-1 Northern Buckeye Conference) hosts Eastwood (5-0, 2-0), the top-ranked Division V team in the Associated Press state poll, at Memorial Stadium.
Kidwell said this year’s Redmen are different from the last three he’s sent out against strong Eagles squads since he’s been in charge of the program.
“They seem to have the most will to win, and they have rebounded from that loss,” he said. “But each Friday is it’s own entity and we’ll see how this Friday is.”
Here are five things to know going into the game:
MID-TERM GRADE: Five games mark the midway point of Ohio’s high school football regular season schedule. Asked for a mid-term grade for the Redmen, Kidwell said, “Probably a B.”
A grade of B means more good than bad, but Kidwell acknowledged that the nature of the sport and its coaches make assigning a grade difficult.
“I don’t know if you’re ever going to get an A in high school football,” he said. “There are always things you can improve. There are always things, as a coach, that you can look at and you want to get better.”
THE GOOD: Kidwell said his team’s overall play has been “hit and miss,” but they’ve managed to lose just once, with one of the wins coming in overtime against an upset-minded Toledo Scott squad.
“I don’t know if anything’s been outstanding,” he said. “Collectively, they’ve just made plays when they’ve had the opportunities.”
The Redmen have also had a mindset of wanting to improve, Kidwell said.
“I’ve always liked the effort of these guys,” he said. “They always come wanting to get better. Whether it’s in the weight room or on the practice field, either you get better or you get worse. We’re getting better, so I like that aspect of this team. But there’s always room for improvement.”
NEEDS WORK: FHS has established itself as a team that can move the ball with its passing game. Kidwell gives his line props for its role in the success with the air attack, but he said improvement is needed for the Redmen to be able to run the ball more effectively.
On defense, he pointed to difficulty in getting stops and returning the ball to the offense as having a role in his team’s lone loss. He’s also seeking improvements in pass coverage, getting to ballcarriers and tackling.
CARETAKERS OF SUCCESS: Eastwood has reached the postseason in four of the last five seasons and has given every indication that it will return with Craig Rutherford having taken the head coaching reins following the retirement of his father, Jerry.
“They believe in their program,” said Kidwell, who guided successful teams as the quarterback of powerful Redmen teams of the late 1980s and early ’90s. said. “They believe in their system. … They have confidence in what they’re doing and they trust their system.
“And those kids over there haven’t wanted to be that class that disappoints. They’ve had a nice run for years and you never want to be that class that drops the ball, that doesn’t play up to standards. They haven’t dropped the ball and they haven’t lowered their standards.”
ABOUT THE EAGLES: A broken leg suffered in the first series of the season has sidelined explosive playmaker Cade Boos, but Eastwood has not missed a beat in its wing-T offense with wingback Jaden Rayford and fullback Ian Downard. The Eagles have rarely passed the ball.
In a defense that Kidwell called “gritty,” he expects to see Eastwood line up in a 4-4 with three-deep pass coverage.
The Eagles are coming off a 56-22 romp over Rossford in their NBC opener.
“I think we can learn a lot about ourselves this week, to see where we are,” Kidwell said. “Is it impossible to win this game? No, it’s not impossible. Is it going to be an extreme challenge? Yeah, it’s going to be a challenge, but there are upsets every week at every level of football.”

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