Josh Franke may be knew to the area high school football scene, but when it comes to the Edward P. Hoadley Cup and the history and tradition behind it, he’s been given a crash course.
“I have,” the first-year coach of the Edgewood Warriors said of the trophy that is awarded to the winner of the football game between Edgewood and Jefferson each year, starting in 1952. “The staff, players, and administration have filled me in quite a bit.”
Then, there’s this caveat:
“It’s been awhile since we’ve had that trophy,” he said. “I’d like to get it back.”
“A while” translates into 2009, Edgewood’s last win in the series, 14-7, at Falcon Pride Stadium, where tonight’s 62nd Battle for the Hoadley Cup will be held (7, WFUN).
But Jefferson’s recent domination in this storied series — which Edgewood leads, 38-27-2, counting the pre-Hoadley Cup matchups — goes deeper than that. The Falcons have three straight, 11 of the last 12 and 14 of the last 16.
A year ago, Jefferson pounded Edgewood, 38-7, at Corlew Stadium, the Warriors only scoring when the Falcons had but 10 players on the field on defense.
Both teams are coming off opening-game losses at home, Edgewood bowing to Geneva, 25-13, and the Falcons falling to LaBrae, 15-14.
But neither coach said it will be difficult getting their players off the canvas for tonight’s clash.
“I don’t think it will be that hard to bounce back,” Franke said. “Physically, we’re fine. We had some cramping, but that’s expected in Week 1.
“Mentally, we realized we played good enough to win, but turnovers (3 interceptions, 1 lost fumble) killed us. Turnovers are an easy fix, an offense not gaining yards is a little more difficult. We focus on ball control and we’ll be fine.
“I have some tough kids.”
“It won’t be hard, with us playing Edgewood this week,” Henson said.
The coaches are well-versed on the opposition this week.
“Jefferson had a great quarterback (Tony Chiacchiero) last year,” Franke said. “He went 16 for 17. Part of that was because he’s talented and part because we were out of position at times.
“Jefferson has some big backs and they look to spread you out and let them pound away. They have a very athletic QB (Cole Erdel), who can beat you with his arm or legs, so we’ll have to play fundamentally sound.
“They can beat you through the air or on the ground so we have to be well prepared for both.”
“Edgewood is multiple on offense — they use a lot of formations,” Henson said. “Their defense is and odd stack that is very aggressive.
“Riis Smith is a very talented athlete. He can run the ball, catch the ball, is a tough defender and is their punter. Anthonie Magda is a very active linebacker and runs the ball very hard, plus he showed his speed with his long touchdown reception.
“Connor McLaughlin is a very good receiver, a nice, big target who can go get the ball. Matt Fitchet is very strong on both offensive and defensive lines.”
Henson said there are noticeable differences in the Franke-coached Warriors compared to those of recent vintage.
“They are more spread out on offense and are willing to throw the ball more,” he said. “In the past, they have always been a 4-4 defense. With this odd stack, they are much more aggressive.”
The two teams are coming into the game relatively healthy. The Falcons had Keston Schwotzer taken off the field last week in the loss to LaBrae, but Henson said the 6-foot-4, 240-pound senior fullback-defensive end is OK.
“Keston is fine,” Henson said. “It was just a stinger.”
Franke knows what must be done to take the Hoadley Cup back to Edgewood tonight.
“We can’t turn the ball over, we need to be able to tackle low, their big backs can’t be brought down by tackling high and, finally, we need to contain the QB,” he said. “We got caught out of position a little (last week), but we will be making adjustments this week. I fully expect Jefferson to test us on the ground with their big bruisers.”
Not committing four turnovers would help, too.
“Taking care of the football will be a priority,” Franke said. “Offensively, we played really well (against Geneva). We have to hold onto the football. The interceptions are tough, but one was because our line blocked a screen wrong and the other because one of our backs didn’t pick up a blitz, resulting in a tipped ball at the line.
“We’ll be much better (tonight).”
Henson sounded a similar refrain.
“We must stop the big play, create plays on offense and win the turnover battle,” he said. “And continue the improvement we made during last week’s game... do your job.”
Erdel, at quarterback, was one of only four players back from Jefferson’s starting 22 that went 8-2 last fall.
“I thought we started slow, but by the end of the game, we were beginning to make plays,” he said. “I believe as the game went on, we improved. I thought Cole did a fine job, for his first start. I thought in the second half, he relaxed and started to show what he can do.
“I thought for the most part defensively, we did a good job. We have to eliminate some foolish penalties that really hurt us and some technique things that if we performed them properly, we would have played even better.”
While Franke wants to take the Hoadley Cup back to Warrior Country, Henson & Co. will do all they can to maintain possession of the gold trophy.
“It definitely adds to the game,” he said. “That trophy is in our locker room and we want to keep it there.”