By SCOTT COTTOS
Since the preseason, Fostoria High School football coach Derek Kidwell has talked about this year’s team having a sense of competitiveness and a willingness to win that he hadn’t always felt in his three previous seasons at the helm.
That was put on display last Friday night when the Redmen put up a scrap, particularly in the first half, in a 35-7 loss to perennial Northern Buckeye Conference power Eastwood at Memorial Stadium.
“In the first half they played extremely hard and extremely well,” Kidwell said of his players, who trailed just 7-0 at halftime against the Eagles, who are ranked No. 1 in the state in the Associated Press Division IV poll. “In the second half, some things got away from us. But, overall, the fight and the effort were there.”
The challenge for Fostoria (4-2, 1-2 NBC) now is to perform with the same level, gumption and execution when they host Lake (4-2, 2-1 NBC) for Friday’s 7 p.m. homecoming contest.
“We’ll know more this week,” Kidwell said. “As long as it’s not a one-time deal. We came out and played hard (against Eastwood). We had our chances. We just weren’t good enough that night.”
Here are five things to know about the Redmen-Flyers matchup:
LESSONS LEARNED: A loss is not a total one for a team as long as it learns from it. Kidwell said his team did indeed take away some beliefs from the Eastwood game, particularly from the first half.
“We can play physical football and we can stop the run and we can get off the field when we need to,” he said. “They’re a very, very good offensive football team and we gave them yardage, but we didn’t give them points. We bent, but we didn’t break all the time.
“We liked our intensity and we liked our approach. We liked our game plan, defensively — it made sense; it attacked where we wanted to attack. There’s a lot to take from the game, but we still have to correct some things this week in practice and we have to be better Friday.”
WON’T BACK DOWN: Kidwell was proud of his club for not simply expecting and accepting a beatdown from a team that has delivered a number of them to FHS and a number of other teams in recent years.
Kidwell now wants to see it for the final month of the season, beginning with what he considers a winnable contest this week.
“We played hard,” he said of the Eastwood game. “We told our kids, ‘If you give us this effort for the next four games, we have a legitimate chance of winning all four of these football games.’
“Hopefully our kids believe that and understand that and we have a good week of practice and we come out Friday and we have that same effort.”
COMPLEMENTARY FOOTBALL: It’s a term that has arisen in recent seasons and may not be completely understood by the average fan. But it certainly describes a winning formula that involves offense, defense and special teams.
“It’s just all phases feeding off one another,” Kidwell said. “Our defense is playing well. Our offense needs to take the ball and score. Special teams need to be solid. It’s just all three of your phases of football playing at a high level. …
“Like, when the defense gets a stop or gets a goal-line stand, we need to hold on to the ball, we need to hold onto that momentum. We need to sustain some first downs. We need to flip the field.
“Obviously, the ultimate goal is to always go score, and that doesn’t always happen. But you (want to) give your defensive players some time to rest, to gather their legs if they’re not playing offense. It’s just complementing one another. If you’re playing hard on defense, you should be playing well on offense and score points and make it a little easier on the defense.
HOMECOMING: Many coaches approach the week as an opponent in itself for all of the activities that may compete for players’ attention.
Kidwell, however, regards it as part of the total experience of high school football and something that should be on the positive side.
“You know, if you’re having a good football season, it can be a great week for the kids,” he said. “If you’re having a bad football season, it can be a dreadful week for your kids and for your team. Lucky for us, we’re 4-2, we’re feeling pretty decent about ourselves and we have a winnable game this week. The kids, I think, are pretty upbeat and have a little pep in their step and they’re having some fun at school.
“Ultimately, that’s what this is about. We’re not coaching high school football to make millions of dollars or to really be known, anything like that. We’re coaching high school football because we want to positively affect kids’ lives and give kids high-school memories. Homecoming week is just an extension of it. It’s just another way that they’re going to make memories.”
ABOUT THE FLYERS: Lake, coming off a 21-6 victory over Rossford, fell 34-21 in last season’s matchup with Fostoria. Redmen quarterback Skyler Garcia was injured in the contest, but he was effective before that and Kidwell hopes for a repeat performance this season against a Flyers defense that has a base defense with a four-man line.
Offensively, Lake runs a run-oriented wing-T with some spread mixed in. Blake Osborn ran for 153 yards and a touchdown against Rossford, with Scott Mackiewicz added 105 yards and two scores.
A Flyer to watch on both sides of the ball is 6-foot-5, 255-pound senior tight end/defensive end Dylan O’Quinn, who has verbally committed to Western Michigan to play on the defensive side.
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