Rocco Dobran always wants and expects his squad to play to its fullest potential.
However, when facing an opponent from a bigger division, which does exactly what Dobran expects his team to do, well, you get this:
Geneva 56, Conneaut 13.
And as Dobran’s Spartans (1-2) prepare to host the Ledgemont Redskins on Friday night at Conneaut Stadium, he tipped his cap to coach Tony Hassett’s Geneva squad.
“We are upset we lost, we feel like we can always find a way to win,” he said. “I will always look back and say what could of we have done differently.
“On Friday night, we were outmatched and we knew we would have to cause them to make mistakes to win. They pretty much played flawless football. They had zero turnovers and had solid special-teams play. Their offense played extremely well. Aaron Rossi is an excellent back, Brandon Pakkala and Austin Clutter were also in sync. Matt Kozlowski is an excellent player opening holes for Rossi and causing chaos on the defensive line.”
That was then, though, and Ledgemont (1-2) is next for Conneaut. Coach Joe LaRosa’s Redskins knocked off the visiting Spartans a year ago at R.W. Sidley Field, 43-20. Ledgemont, which leads the all-time series with Conneaut, 3-2, lost to visiting Trinity in its opener, 46-14, prevailed at Newbury in Week 2, 42-6, then bowed to visiting Cardinal last week, 34-3.
The Redskins had been led by LaRosa’s son, Dan, a standout running back, the past several seasons. Dan LaRosa graduated last spring.
“Dan LaRosa was a special player, who was extremely talented... he would make any team better,” Dobran said. “They do have a nice team with good athletes, they just get hurt in the depth game.
“Because of their numbers, they have to play some young kids, and when someone goes down, their replacement is young and inexperienced.
“That said, they play very hard and like contact.”
Dobran has a good idea what to expect out of Ledgemont this week.
“On offense, they run multiple formations and find several ways to run their base plays — you’re never sure what’s coming at you, which keeps defenses on their toes,” he said. “They have an athletic quarterback, Dylan Carson, who runs the ball well. Their tailback, Jarrett Young, is a tough little back who is very shifty.
“On defense, they run multiple fronts, mostly a 4-4 look with cover 3 behind it. They like to bring a lot of pressure, especially with their middle backers, Mike McKeon and Michael Risko, who can cause fits for offensive lines.”
The Spartans will still be without Tyler Cox and R.J. Nelson this week with knee injuries and Brian Duris because of ankle woes.
Despite the loss last week, Dobran saw some positives in the contest with a tough 2-1 Geneva squad.
“We went up with like five minutes left in the second quarter, and then gave them a short field two series in a row and were unable to use up the rest of the clock,” he said. “That gave them a 21-7 lead, and then they got the kickoff the second half and went down and scored. So in a matter of minutes, we were down 21.
“Our kids did not quit, though. They kept playing and fought hard. J.J. Lower had a really good night on the offensive line and Troy Colucci and C.J. Rice did a nice job moving the ball, at times.”
Dobran has a checklist of what will needed be done Friday night for Conneaut to climb back to the break-even mark on the season.
“We need to secure up our punt team, which has been giving us some problems,” he said. “We need to continue to hold onto the ball and win the turnover battle.
“And we need to play for four quarters and be relentless.”