ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP —
It certainly took longer than anyone, especially themselves, expected, but the Edgewood Warriors appear to be rounding into form.
And as they prepare to take their longest journey of the season Friday night to Columbiana County to take on the Lisbon Beaver Beavers, the Warriors (2-3) will do so riding a two-game winning streak.
First-year coach Josh Franke’s Warriors hammered visiting Ledgemont last week, 63-20.
“Obviously, there are a few games we would like to have back and play again, but we can’t look in the rearview mirror, we have to look forward on what we can control,” he said. “Our production on both sides of the ball has really picked up and I think that has to do with playing some games in the new systems offensively and defensively.”
There was a learning curve for his players, Franke admitted.
“Our kids had a lot of learning to do, especially on offense, and although they knew the system to start the year, they were playing hesitant,” he said. “Now that they’ve played a couple of games, they’re becoming more and more confident with their responsibilities and it’s resulted in more production. I think they’ll continue getting better with each passing week because they’ll become more confident in what their doing.”
Franke, a native of Toronto, just a 20-minute drive from Beaver, is well aware of the type of football played there.
“Beaver Local is a tough, physical, River Valley team,” he said. “This is sort of a homecoming for me being from Toronto, so I’m defiantly familiar with what style football team they have. They’re always been tough and physical, so that’s something we have to be prepared for.”
“They primarily run out of the Pistol and Maryland I on offense, two polar opposite offenses, so it’s going to be tough for our defense to prepare for,” Franke said. “On defense, they run a 4-3 with man coverage. They’re a typical country school with a lot of size on their offensive and defensive line, which is defiantly the strength of their team.
“We need to be able to go down there and play more physical than they are and try to beat them with our team speed. I feel were faster than they are. We must continue to spread the ball around to our playmakers and pressure the quarterback with our aggressive defense.”
Which is something Edgewood certainly did a week ago besting Ledgemont, though Franke had praise for coach Joe LaRosa’s Redskins.
“Really have to hand it to Ledgemont, they came out and started the game pretty tough,” he said. “They did a good job shutting down our run early on in the game and made us go to the air, which resulted in four touchdown passes, but they played us pretty tough up front.”
And there’s work to be done, Franke said.
“I would have liked to see our O-line start the game as tough as they came out in the second half,” he said. “We still have to put together four quarters of football and I think we only played three last Friday.
“We really need to make sure we start and finish every game at 110 percent output.
“Defensively, I think we played really well, did some nice things with our blitzing scheme and were able to hold them to limited yardage with our first team in there.”
Beaver (2-3) has lost two games in a row, both at home, 27-0 to Claymont in Week 4 an 48-7 to Niles McKinley last week. The Beavers opened with a 6-7 loss at Crestview, then defeated Oak Glen (W.Va.) in Week 2, 30-7, and prevailed at East Palestine in Week 3, 24-0.
Franke said he knows what the Warriors must do to get back to the break-even mark this week.
“We need to take care of the football and limit our turnovers, which we’ve done a good job of in the past two weeks,” Franke said. “Our defensive secondary has to play exceptionally well, Beaver is about 50 percent pass.
“And, we weed to limit our penalties. We did a little better last week, but not as good as I would like.”
Then, there’s the journey south. Franke and his staff are taking every measure to prepare the Warriors.
“It’s about a two hour drive on the bus, hour and half in the car,” he said. “We have our bus scheduled to leave at 3 p.m. and are giving the kids their team meal on the bus ride. The drive concerns me a little bit because some of the kids will sleep on the way down but that’s part of the reason why we’re leaving so early. I don’t want to jump off the bus and play.
“This will put us there about two hours before kickoff and allow our kids to walk the field a little bit and wake up before pregame and the like.
“We should be fine.”