This is not where the Grand Valley Mustangs expected to be 20 percent through their 2013 season.
And second-year coach John Glavickas, who guided Grand Valley to a 7-3 finish and a Northeastern Athletic Conference championship in his first season at the helm last fall, doesn’t try to mask that assertion.
“I definitely feel we haven't played close to what I feel we should be playing,” Glavickas, whose squad took it on the chin against visiting Division VI state title contender Kirtland, 61-14, last week at Grand Valley Stadium, said. “I am hoping this is the week that we start playing at the level expected.”
Grand Valley will journey to Burton to take on the Berkshire Badgers on Friday night at Dr. William A. Reed Stadium. The former East Suburban Conference rivals have played 33 games all-time, Berkshire holding an 18-15 edge in the series. The Badgers won the last six games in this matchup, the most recent being a 40-0 whitewashing in 2008 at Berkshire.
While the Mustangs were dealing with Kirtland, life hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows for Berkshire on the gridiron. The Badgers dropped their opener to visiting Pymatuning Valley, 32-24, then followed that with a 49-7 Saturday afternoon lost at an improved Gilmour Academy squad in Week 2.
“I had the opportunity to watch them play on Saturday against Gilmour Academy,” Glavickas said. “The thing I was most impressed about was the way they never give up and give in. They just keep coming at their opponent. You are just waiting for them to quit and they just don't.”
The scouting trip gave Glavickas a good idea what to expect Friday night.
“On the offensive side of the ball, Berkshire does most of their damage out of a wing-T style offense,” he said. “They run a lot of misdirection plays. I think they are very athletic in their back positions.
“On the defensive side, they have shown some 4-4 and 3-4 sets. On film, they ran a 4-4. Against Gilmour, they ran a three-man front. I do not know if the change was made just for Gilmour or that was a change that personnel dictated.”
As for his Mustangs, Glavickas knew last week’s matchup against mighty Kirtland was going to be difficult — and it was.
“They were everything that people said they would be,” he said. “Tiger (LaVerde) has done an incredible job with his program. There are very few teams that can execute the way they do. Their line was so well disciplined. They did things the right way every time.
“When I went back and looked at the film, not only did I notice what our kids were doing wrong, but what Kirtland was doing right. When I watched the film, I didn't think they looked as big on film as they did in person. Their running backs would be playing defensive tackles for us.”
Matchup up with Kirtland also gave Glavickas an appreciation of his boys, too. Quarterback Jake Vormelker accounted for every single yard of Grand Valley’s 259 total yards, running for 120, passing for 139, running for one touchdown and passing for another, a 52-yarder to Colt Yox.
“I did try to take away as positives as I could,” Glavickas said. “There were some things we were successful doing. It is so hard to judge when you play a team of that level. I never thought the boys quit. They played hard, they were just playing a great team.
“We were just outmatched, this time. I thought with all the scoring they were doing that our kids never quit. They just kept chopping at the tree. That was a big positive.”
Which leads to the second-year coaching knowing what needs to be done for the Mustangs to avoid their first 0-3 start since 2007.
“First off, we have to do a better job of protecting the ball,’ he said of his squad, which is last in the area with a minus-7 ration in takeaways/giveaways. “We cannot keep turning it over. We also have to be a better tackling team.
“The third thing is that we have to bring it the very first play to the last play.”