The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

September 12, 2013

Points, pride, bragging rights on line

Madison, Perry can’t wait to get after one another in battle for Little Brown Jug

Star Beacon

— As usual, there is plenty on the line as ancient rivals Madison and Perry prepare to square off in the annual battle for the Little Brown Jug, which will take place Friday night at Alumni Stadium.

As the Blue Streaks (1-1) and Pirates (2-0) come into this one, the usual laundry list of rewards is up for grabs:

A year ago, the Blue Streaks edged the Pirates in a classic clash,  28-27.

And both coaches — Madison’s Tim Willis and Perry’s Matt Rosati — didn’t even attempt to mask the importance of this annual border war.

“It means a lot to the players, coaches and community,” Willis — who is 2-3 in his tenure in games against Perry since the series was resumed in 2008 after a 12-year absence, said. “We want to keep the Brown Jug in Madison.”

“It means a great deal to our community because it represents so much history,” Rosati, whose Pirates won their first three matchups with Madison but have dropped the last two, said. “It becomes very personal for all who have been involved.”

Both teams are coming off impressive Week 2 victories.

After losing a tough 27-21 verdict at perennial power Chagrin Falls to kick off the season, Madison (1-1) bounced back in fine fashion last week, annihilating visiting Collinwood, 54-0.

Willis played his entire roster in what amounted to a mercy-rule game. Madison limited the overmatched Railroaders to 42 total yards, while amassing 258 itself.

“We did correct some mistakes from Week 1,” Willis, in his typical understated manner, said. “It was very good to see all the seniors play significant time.

“Not to give up any yards with all those subs shows how hard every kid worked.”

Meanwhile, Perry (2-0) was outrushed and outpassed by Geneva, but hung in there, used a 90-yard opening-kickoff return for a touchdown by Kyle Beyer to record a hard-fought 34-27 triumph at Spire Stadium.

 “Overall we will take the win,” Rosati said. “We were happy with how we were able to get big stops when we needed them, but not real happy with our mental mistakes on the defensive side of the ball.

“We were able to get key stops in the second half and we did not make mistakes on offense in the second half. We only ran 31

offensive plays on the night (compared to Geneva’s staggering total of 73), but could not be stopped.”

Rosati didn’t try to deny the Pirates may have used a get-out-of-jail-free card at Geneva.

“We bent but did not break and got the important stops and matched scores when we needed to and capitalized when we had to,” he said. “Yes the numbers look one-sided when you look at time of possession and number of plays run, but I learned a long time ago those are very misleading stats.  

“I have a better chance of not making a mistake if I run two plays for 80 yards than running 10 plays to go 80 yards. The more plays you run, the percentages go up that you will make a mistake. We hung around and capitalized when a mistake was made.”

Now, the two teams can focus on what their respective communities have done since a year ago Saturday — each other.

“Perry is a very aggressive team on both sides of the ball,” Willis said. “They have beat two good teams (the Pirates took out Division II Riverside in their opener, 22-8) and we will have our work cut out for us.

“They are multiple on both sides of the ball. Their best players are Zakary Hurd (running back-defensive back), Kyle Kremiller (running back-defensive lineman), Ryan Kahoun (quarterback-linebacker) and Luke Farrell (wide receiver-defensive end).”

“Madison is very good,” Rosati countered. “They are extremely fast on defense and are very physical, as always.

“Madison is a run-oriented offense with big, strong offensive lineman, but they also have great speed with the skill positions.  Brandon Davis is a really good back and they can score points very quickly. Defensively, they are very fast. Bo Ransom is a really active and aggressive player and they all are very well coached and hit.”

In addition to a ton of mutual respect, the two coaches know what must be done for their squad to emerge victorious Friday night.

“We must be able to run the football and make sure we are assignment sound on defense,” Willis, who said his team will come into this one “100 percent healthy,” said.

“We will have to keep them off balance, we cannot become predictable in all three phases of the game,” Rosati said. “We must tackle well and play with 11 hats to the ball.

“We must play with great passion and represent our school and community with great pride. We have a great deal of responsibility going into this game.”

And while Madison is at full strength this week, the same cannot be said for Perry.

“Unfortunately, two of our best football players will not see any action this season,” Rosati said. “Billy Miller (shoulder surgery) and now Mason Martin (hip, back) will be out for the rest of the season, as well.

“Both are seniors and had big plans the year. Mike Sorine has played the first two games with a broken hand and on Friday night, he suffered a concussion so he will be out. He is a major loss in the secondary for us.”