The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

September 25, 2013

Warriors looking ahead

With first win in hand, Edgewood hosts Ledgemont

ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP — It took quite a bit longer than anyone anticipated — including themsevles — but the Edgewood Warriors put their first victory of the 2013 season in the books last week at Pymatuning Valley, 55-12.

And as first-year coach Josh Franke’s Warriors (1-3) look to make it two in a row Friday night against fellow 1-3 Ledgemont at Corlew Stadium, they can certainly appreciate the sweet taste of nectar that comes with victory on the gridiron.

“To our guys, it was not only special, but important,” Franke admitted, after watching his Warriors put up 55 points — tying a 55-12 whipping of visiting Elyria Catholic on Sept. 16, 2005 for the ninth-most points scored in program history. “Obviously, the season didn’t start how we expected and you wish you could have a couple of those games back, but it was huge for us to get the win and change our pysche a little bit.”

And therein is a start, Franke said.

“If we can continue the momentum, I would like to think those guys will be hard to stop,” he said. “I think it was also big for our community, with me replacing a playoff coach from last year and having a talented senior group, there were definitely some doubters out there, and I’m sure there still are, but that’s OK, it’s expected after starting 0-3.

“Hopefully, we continue this trend and win some more of them over each week.”

The first victory as a head coach in his home state was important to Franke on a personal level, as well.

“It was a big deal to me personally,” he said. “After the first three weeks, you spend the weekend scratching your head, trying to figure out what’s wrong or what needs fixed and it’s really bothered me because I couldn’t put my finger on it but to get the monkey off my back is a big relief.

“It was a rather enjoyable weekend, to say the least.”

And now, here’s Ledgemont. Coach Joe LaRosa’s Redskins took one on the chin last week at Conneaut, 36-7. Edgewood leads the all-time series with Ledgemont, 5-1, including a 34-13 triumph a year ago at R.W. Sidley Field in Thompson.

“Despite Ledgemont’s record, we have to take them seriously,” Franke said. “They definitely have the ability to win on any given Friday... it won’t be a walk in the park.

“You’re only as good as your record says you are and they’re 1-3 and so are we, so we can’t go in thinking we’re world beaters just because of one game. They run a little bit out of the shotgun and a little bit out of the I formation. Anytime you prepare for a multiple offense like that, it puts pressure on your defense. Defensively, they run a 4-4 and after last week (when Edgewood ran for 326 yards in the win at PV), I’m sure they’re going to prepare to stop the run.”

Franke is impressed by Jarrett Young. The Redskin tailback had 15 carries for 153 yards, scoring Ledgemont’s only touchdown on a 37-yard run last week at Conneaut.

“He is a great player... we need to be able to contain him in order to have a win,” Franke said. “He does a great job of changing direction, sometimes changing sides of the field, and has the ability to get skinny and make tacklers miss him.”

The Warriors had a pair of 100-yard rushers themselves last week, Anthonie Magda (17 carries, 145 yards) and Riis Smith (13 for 124 yards). But they had plenty of help, Franke said.

“They ran great, but the credit has to be given to the offensive line — Matt Fitchett and Jarrad Harrah really stepped up as seniors at the tackle spots and helped our success,” he said. “Going into last week, on Monday, I told the team we don’t have an identity but we need to create the identity that we our a running football that sets up the pass through running.

“I also told all five guys on our O-line that if we didn’t rush for at least 200 yards, that all five of them wouldn’t be starting next week.

“It seemed to work, considering we almost doubled that goal.”

Franke knows what his guys must do this week to move to 2-3.

“No. 1, we have to come in to the game focused. Last week was great, but that’s over, we need to focus on winning this week,” he said. “No. 2, we have to take care of the football. We turned the ball over once last week and look at the result (a PV score). Protecting the ball is big in the recipe of success.”

Then, of course, are the penalties. The Warriors, the most-penalized team in the area, were flagged 11 more times for 96 times last week.

“We have to work on our penalties,” Franke said matter of  factly. “Discipline is something we have been stressing and we haven’t seen that transition to Friday night, yet, but we can’t give away all those free yards.”

Heading into Game 5, Edgewood, having already lost standout Alex Spangler, was bitten hard again by the dreaded injury bug.

“Unfortunately, we got the bad news early last week that we also lost Anthony Monda (shoulder) for the rest of the season,” Franke said. “So, in one week, we lost two of the best players and leaders on our team in him and Alex Spangler. With Anthony playing middle linebacker and fullback, he held two extremely important positions on our team. Not only is Anthony a great football player, but the heart and soul of our defense.

“Our team is playing the rest of the season for those guys and I think they were part of our motivation going into last Friday.”

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