Hillsboro visits East Clinton High School Friday night as an honorary member of the Southern Buckeye Athletic & Academic Conference.
The Indians, 1-1 on the year, opened with a win over Western Brown, 16-14, then lost to Goshen, 28-7, last week.
Following the game with East Clinton this week, Jack O’Rourke’s squad goes to Williamsburg and Clermont Northeastern to close out its non-league schedule.
All five of the games are against SBAAC teams before the Indians play five against Frontier Athletic Conference rivals.
“Hillsboro is big and physical,” EC coach Steven Olds said. “They want to run and then run some more. Defensively they run a 4-4 and are strong up the middle in particular. Our boys need to bring great energy and be ready to play old school, three yards and a cloud of dust football on Friday.”
East Clinton picked up the first win of the Olds era with a 37-7 triumph over Cedarville.
“I thought our guys played really hard and with an edge,” said Olds. “They were physical from start to finish and played with purpose. We did, however, commit too many penalties and we addressed that this week.”
Though wins have been hard to come by in recent years for EC, Olds wants his team to enjoy every moment.
“That’s the thing,” he said. “It’s hard to tell a bunch of young men to act like they have been there before when they haven’t. Right now, I want them to celebrate even the smallest victories and achievements. I’m not worried about them having a big head after last week. Our boys are a pretty grounded group. They know it’s just one game and that we have to approach each week like we have something to prove.”
The Astros had a good balance on offense. Jared Smith went 8-for-13 for 125 yards and three touchdowns through the air.
Todd Wedding led the ground game by rushing for 138 yards and a score on 22 attempts.
Aside from yardage numbers providing balance, East Clinton had five different players score touchdowns – Branson Smith on a pass from brother Jared; Jaden Singleton on a pass from Smith; Wedding on the ground; Kaleb Kingery on the ground; and Isaiah Conger on a pass from Smith.
“Very proud of that,” Olds said.
Branson Smith caught four passes for 76 yards while Conger caught three for 16. On defense, Kingery and Conger had sacks while Mason Huff recovered a fumble. Singleton had an interception.
”The defense was fantastic,”said Olds. “Coach (Bill) Bryant has done a great job getting the guys ready to play and it showed last week. We were flying around and swarming the football. If we can play with that passion and intensity with some regularity, we will be fine.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @wnjsports