For the potential big plays that both teams have the ability to make, Friday’s football game between Wilmington and Clinton-Massie will likely play out like a chess match. One small move at a time, waiting for a mistake.
Then BOOM. The big play.
“As aggressive as Massie is, they are patient in waiting for you to make a mistake,” said WHS head coach Scott Killen, a former coach at CMHS. “Everyone must do their job and not worry about what is going on away from them. We must win our foxhole and be ready to handle adversity and realize that Massie will make plays, we just need to make more.”
Wilmington and Clinton-Massie come into Friday’s South Central Ohio League battle at Alumni Field with identical records — 7-1 overall and 5-0 in the league.
The Falcons are currently fourth in the Div. IV Region 14 computer rankings that determine post-season participants. The top eight teams in the region advance to the playoffs.
Wilmington, however, is on the outside looking in. The Hurricane currently sits at No. 10 in the Div. III Region 10 ratings. Even with a win this week, WHS would likely have to win next week as well to advance to the playoffs.
CM coach Dan McSurley believes keeping the game in perspective will be key for the winner.
“I think it’s very important not to buy into all the hype and stay focused on the task at hand,” he said.
“The message is to not let the hype of the game make the game bigger than what it is,” said Killen. “The first time our kids were in a game like this was last year and we feel as coaches, the moment overwhelmed them. Massie’s kids have become accustomed to big crowds and big moments. Now my kids know what type of atmosphere to expect and they know we must execute. Most importantly, I told them to have fun and play loose.”
Indeed the Falcons, aside from playoff history, faced a wild atmosphere in Week 2 when they traveled to state-ranked No. 1 Steubenville. CM head coach Dan McSurley also believes last week’s game against Chillicothe gave the Falcons a taste of what his squad will face against Wilmington.
“I think we beat a really good team,” McSurley said of the Cavaliers. “They played two of the top teams in Div. IV earlier in the year and gave them both all they could handle. Our offense got 70 reps which was around 40 more than we had gotten in any game since week two. I think that should help us in going forward.”
Clinton-Massie’s SCOL resumé is impressive — 50 straight league wins, 65-2 overall SCOL record, 29-1 away record in SCOL play. While sporting a 65-2 SCOL record, the Falcons have pretty much steamrolled the competition. Aside from the two losses, only four times has a team played within 13 points of Clinton-Massie. Everything else has been a blowout.
“They are very fundamental in all three phases and they are constantly going to put pressure on you,” Killen said. “Hunter Fentress is doing a great job of running the offense and they have really opened it up this year. Defensively, they are aggressive and very rarely miss an assignment.”
McSurley knows the Hurricane has the ability to make it a close game with Matt Credit, Dylan Beaugard, Marlyn Frisco, Cameron Stewart and all the other offensive weapons.
“Wilmington is a spread to run team,” the CM coach said. “We need to corral their QB and eliminate big plays. They have some explosive returners on special teams and we may know a little about their defensive scheme. We’ve been running this defense for around 12 years. I think we need to control the game on offense and limit they’re offensive reps.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, or on Twitter @wnjsports.