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Toronto hopes to take another step forward

STAYING HOME — Nick Chaney and the Oak Glen football team host Perry on Friday. -Joe Catullo

TORONTO — As the early portion of the season progresses, Toronto head coach Josh Franke has seen his team get better and better each week.

The Red Knights (2-1) look to take another step in the right direction on Friday night when they return to Clarke Hinkle Stadium to host 1-2 Beallsville after a successful first road trip of the season.

“It’s always good to be home,” Franke said. “The more the kids play together and are out there together, we’re going to see that more and more each week. We have added some new wrinkles here and there. The more and more reps you get running those things, the better you expect the kids to be.”

Franke expects the Blue Devils to be very similar to the teams his team has seen already.

“They’re a tough team. They are another downhill running attack,” he said. “They are going to run a lot of I-formation. We have to contain them within the tackle box. We’ve put a lot of emphasis on not letting teams get outside on the edge and run up and down the sideline on us. We don’t have a lot of speed, so we have to keep everything in between the tackles.

“We have to take care of the football and force some turnovers. That is always key.”

Having seen mostly predominantly running teams this season, he thinks his group will be prepared.

“That’s all teams have done is run downhill on us,” Franke said. “They get in the I-formation or a two back sets and try to pound away at you. That is what we run a lot of, too. It’s kind of starting to become second nature for our kids to defend it.”

Pitt. Brashear at Brooke

WELLSBURG — The Brooke Bruins welcome a different opponent to Brooke Memorial Stadium on Friday night as Brashear, a Pittsburgh-area team, comes to Wellsburg.

Though the Bulls are 0-4, Brooke head coach Mac McLean knows that record is deceptive with who they have played.

“They are a City League team. They are a talented group,” McLean said. “They have enough athleticism and speed that you better keep your eye on them because, if you miss tackles — which we have done a lot of — they are going to be standing in the end zone. We are going to have to play disciplined football and play a clean game.

“We have to prepare for them the same as for anyone else. It should be standard to prepare as hard as you regardless of who is on the other sideline. We are in no position to take any team lightly.”

Brooke (1-2) has struggled in the second half of games this season, including last week’s loss to University. McLean chalked that loss up to turnovers and key injuries.

“I think last week was a classic case of turnovers. There’s not many teams that are going to turn the ball over six times and win,” he said. “Losing Max Camilletti in the backfield for the whole second half was tough, and the injuries started piling up on us. We were scrambling to piece people together and had a lot of kids playing out of position. Every time we got something rolling in the second half, we shot ourselves in the foot.”

In order to get back to the .500 mark, McLean knows his defense will have to be better.

“We have got to figure out a way to get some stops on defense,” he said. “It’s not a lack of preparation by my coaching staff. They work very hard on it, and it’s not a lack of effort. We just have to be a better tackling team. We have to create some turnovers. We can’t keep giving up points in the 40s and 50s every week and have a good year.”

Perry at Oak Glen

NEW MANCHESTER — The undefeated Oak Glen Golden Bears will put their best record in nearly half a century on the line against a Pittsburgh team on Friday night, hosting Perry Traditional Academy.

“They are an inner-city Pittsburgh team that is 2-2. They have victories against Northgate and Brashear, they lost to Youngstown East and Obama USO,” Oak Glen head coach Ted Arneault said of the Commodores. “They are really athletic and can score on any given play. They will pose a new challenge for us.”

With a former Division I and NFL player leading Perry, Arneault knows his team will have to be prepared.

“Their record is deceiving. They are not like the typical local teams that we play,” he said. “They play a different type of game. I think this is a good measuring stick test for us. They play a different style of offense and defense than we’re used to seeing. Their head coach, Rod Rutherford, played at Pitt and in the NFL. He just has a different style of running things.”

Arneault likes the group he has in the secondary, but also knows it will be tested by a team that throws more than any it has seen to date.

“They throw the ball a lot. I think in their last game they threw 30-some passes,” he said.

“They are going to try to air it out. They probably throw the most of any team we have seen in quite some time. It’s really going to test our secondary and we think our secondary is one of our strengths. It will be good to see how they match up with a team like this.

“They play a traditional, simple defense. They play a three-high shell, a lot of cover three. They don’t allow anything deep. They are going to be a challenge because they don’t allow the big plays. We are kind of defined by the big plays.”

Union Local at

Harrison Central

CADIZ — Friday night, one team will leave the gray turf at Harrison Central with its first win of the season as the Huskies welcome Union Local to town. Both teams are off to 0-3 starts.

“They are, I think, the only team we have played on a consistent basis every year since we consolidated,” Huskies head coach Anthony Hayes said. “That rivalry with us goes back a long way and they are another Buckeye 8 team that I’m sure is going to be ready to go on Friday night.

“I think both of us are struggling out of the box for a little bit. Everybody is eager to get that first one under our belt so we can get focused back in on what our goals were at the start of the season.”

Being a familiar opponent, Hayes has a pretty good idea of what to expect from the Jets.

“I expect them to run the spread on offense. Their quarterback likes to run,” he said. “They like to spread you out to create natural running lanes. On defense we’ll see the same 4-3 defense they have used and had a lot of success with over the last several years. We have to play assignment football.”

Though being 0-3 is disappointing, Hayes knows his team has been able to bounce back from rough starts in the past, including last season.

“We have had a really strong schedule the last couple years. We have started slow,” he said. “Our kids are mentally tough. We preach to the kids to turn the page and move on. We can’t control what has happened in the past. All we can do is try to control in the present and the future moving forward. We have to work hard and get better every day, as long as we are doing that, that’s all we can ask for as a coaching staff.”

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