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Unbeaten Bears host winless Wildcats

NEW MANCHESTER — Oak Glen is off to the best start in school history, sitting at 5-0 after coming back to defeat rival East Liverpool on Friday.

However, do not expect Ted Arneault and company to take anyone lightly the rest of the way, including 0-5 Edison on Friday night.

“Edison is a well-coached team, and they play tough and physical,” Arneault said. “They were in a close game against Catholic Central. They are dangerous. It is dangerous because you want to make sure you’re prepared every week, and Edison is no different than any other week.”

For Arneault, the come-back win over the Potters told him a lot about his group.

“I think we were able to test out guts,” he said. “We were able to finally put some points on the board in the third quarter, then they blocked the extra point and returned a kickoff on us. For us to come back on the next drive and score and put a two-point conversion in, I think that was the moment of the game. That was the moment I knew we had the guts to win close football games this year.”

The win over East Liverpool puts Oak Glen third in the West Virginia Class AA rankings.

“It means a lot for our seniors,” Arneault said. “I’m so proud of our seniors for what they have accomplished. They have stuck together this whole time and been our leaders.

“We have a long way to go. We’re not looking at where we are or other weeks. We’re looking purely at Edison right now and taking care of business on Friday night.”

As for what to expect from the Wildcats, he likes their improved passing game with freshman quarterback Gage Cline.

“We’re back to the basics and working in practice on Edison,” Arneault said. “They are a run-heavy team that also will spread out. They have started to develop their passing game a little bit more. They have a freshman quarterback that I really like — he seems to have a lot of potential.”

Cline threw for 203 yards, a touchdown and an interception in Edison’s loss to Beaver Local in Week 4. He has 343 yards and two scores on the season, leading an Edison offense that averages 163.75 yards and 9.5 points per game.

“It has improved week-to-week, especially with Gage being a freshman quarterback,” Edison head coach Shane O’Brien said. “Early in the year when he took over, we tried to keep things simple for him and take the pressure off him, but he’s shown that he is able to make the reads. He is doing a great job of running the offense.”

Oak Glen once again has some of the top athletes in the Herald-Star/Daily Times coverage area, led by Nick Chaney. He is the top passer with 1,046 yards and 10 touchdowns. Hunter Patterson is the second-leading rusher with 517 yards and seven scores. He also is the second-leading receiver in the area with 24 grabs for 449 more yards and four touchdowns. Gage Patterson has 282 receiving yards and four scores.

“Oak Glen has some really good athletes and is good at what they do,” O’Brien said. “Their schemes are simple. They don’t run a ton of formations, but what they do, they are really disciplined at. They have some really good athletes that makes plays.”

Taking on an unbeaten team on the road, O’Brien knows not many will be expecting his team to win. That doesn’t change his message to the team, though.

“The message is always the same,” he said. “The message is to go out, give a great effort and do your best on every play. That is still the same, whether you’re undefeated or 0-5. We’re the underdogs, and we understand that. The young guys are feeding on that. That is something we talked about. We’re not going to be expected to win any games from here on out because of our record so far, but I think we have the potential to do good things and the athletes to pull an upset.

“Football is a crazy game, and you never know what can happen. We can be the team to surprise someone one week, and that’s what we’re trying to do this week. Maybe it’s a trap game for them. Don’t overlook us because we still have the potential to win.”

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

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