Struggling Wildcats host rival Red Knights

RICHMOND — Last season, Edison left Clarke Hinkle Field with a 25-24 victory after a late goal-line stand broke the hearts of Toronto. As it turned out, a win in that game would have likely put the Red Knights in the playoffs.

Nobody has to tell Toronto that, though. Josh Franke and company are well aware.

“This is a game that we have thought about since the clock hit zeros last year,” he said. “We had an opportunity to win the game at the end, and Edison had a goal-line stand at the half-yard line. That is a game we have talked about several times over the course of the last 365 days. A lot of times we refereed to that game as the game that kept us out of the playoffs.

“We have used that yard several times in practice. If we see kids not working hard, we tell them we were one yard away from being able to go to the playoffs. You hate to say that one yard is something that has haunted us for the last year, but it really has.”

Having come out on top of such a close game, Edison coach Shane O’Brien knows it only adds to the rivalry on Friday night at Cartwright Field.

“It’s a big rivalry for us, especially after the close game we had last year,” he said. “We know that, with last year being a really close game, that this year is going to be a competitive game, as well. We’re using that a motivating factor. That said, it’s a new year and there are new kids, so there is a bit of freshness to the rivalry, as well.”

Facing a rival is nothing new for the Red Knights this season, as they have split their first two games with Wellsville and Harrison Central, both at home.

“Three-straight weeks of rivalry games to start the season, it’s becoming par for the course at this point,” Franke said.

Edison is off to a rough start, having dropped its first two games to Southern Local and Wellsville. Both teams are undefeated.

“I think we’re really trying to get back on track. We had a really tough opener with Southern Local, and last week we had a variety of things going on with injuries and a bad string of luck,” O’Brien said. “The guys are still working hard and ready to go get that first win this week. The guys know there is still a lot of football to be played.

“The season is far from over. We talk about the process a lot. You are going to go through adversity. They understand the situation that we are in. The only option is to put your head down and get back to work. I’m proud of the way they have handled this week.”

The Red Knights are averaging 301.5 yards and 17 points so far this season, though those numbers improved big from Week 1 to Week 2, with Caleb Leasure back at quarterback. He went 7 of 9 for 145 yards and a score. Zach Stackhouse has been a playmaker catching the ball, hauling in six passes for 118 yards and two scores. Garrett Dozier leads the rushing attack with 170 yards on 37 carries.

They face an Edison defense that has allowed 370.5 yards and 39.5 points.

On offense, the Wildcats average 9.5 points and 179.5 yards. Noah Woods is 6 of 18 passing for 109 yards, but he has five interceptions. Tyler Griffith has 22 for 140 yards and two scores.

The Toronto defense allows 288 yards and 19 points.

(Grimm can be reached at agrimm@heraldstaronline.com)