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Creek staying focused for Buckeye Local

WINTERSVILLE — Two teams looking to bounce back from Week 3 losses will do battle Friday at the renovated Kettlewell Memorial Stadium, as Indian Creek hosts Buckeye 8 Conference rival Buckeye Local.

The Redskins (2-1) dropped a 14-13 heartbreaker to Indian Valley in their first home game of the season last week, while Buckeye Local (1-2) ran into a high-powered Oak Glen team on the road and fell, 59-12.

“You can see steady progress. We watched the game that they played against Union Local, and you have to give them credit,” Indian Creek head coach Andrew Connor said of the Panthers. “They play with a lot of energy. I think offensively they move the ball well. They moved the ball even against Oak Glen. Defensively, they still send a lot of guys to the ball, and they play with passion. I think coach (Roger) Herbert has his kids believing in themselves and working hard.

“It’s a rivalry game, so that is something you always have to worry about. Rivalry games take kind of a life of their own. They’re kids. I’m sure they are going to be very excited to come up and play us.”

Herbert has not been surprised by what he’s seen from the Redskins.

“Watching them on film, they are who we thought they were,” Herbert said. “They are a big, physical team. They are one of the more balanced teams on our schedule. They are tough to prepare for because they will run it as much as they throw. They’ve got a mobile quarterback (Sam Mazar) that can throw the ball pretty well. He has a lot of starts under his belt. They obviously have a couple of backs they like to run the ball with — Fante is a good back.

“I think Indian Valley is a good program and has been for a while. They played well against them. They will certainly be ready for us, and we’ll be on their field, so I’m sure they will be wanting to get (their first home win since stadium renovations).”

For Herbert, the keys are a good start and to not beat themselves.

“Last week against Oak Glen, which I think was our worst game in three years, we started off OK. We had a couple of nice plays, moved the ball a little bit, then we did as we’ve done in the past and had a holding penalty, a false start and had to punt, then they scored,” he said. “The start for us is big. We can’t get in a hole and be chasing points.

“I don’t really concern ourselves with everybody else. I concern ourselves with us. We have to take care of what we can take care of. We make mistakes and at a key times, and those are killers. It happened in our first game and again against Oak Glen. In our win in Week 2, we had very limited penalties.”

One thing Connor knows about his team is it bounces back from tough losses. The Redskins are 11-0 following a loss during the last three regular seasons. They have not lost back-to-back games since 2015.

“We have been able to bounce back, and I think it says a lot about our kids,” Connor said. “Our kids are good kids, they work hard, they deal with adversity well. I think they bond together after we lose a game like that. You could see in practice they are focused.”

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Some things are bigger than football. The Redskins have been without longtime assistant coach Mike Voltz, who suffered a stroke last week.

“He needs prayers right now, he’s in a tough spot,” Connor said of his assistant. “He was a big part of our football program. He has a big heart. The kids adore him. We’re hoping with prayer and everyone pulling for him that things will change for the better for him. Me and Mike work together at the JVS and have coached together going way back. Mike has been a friend of mine for a long time.”

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