UTICA — This Friday, the Fredericktown Freddies face, perhaps, the sternest challenge to their unbeaten status since the season’s opening week. This week, they visit the Utica Redskins, who are fresh from pulling out a 21-19 road win against a tough Johnstown team.
This is a game that both teams had circled on their calendars before the first summer workouts.
“If we win this and, obviously, we have to win our last two, we’ll put a hold on the MBC for ourselves,” said Fredericktown coach Brian Baum. “That will make sure that any challengers will be defeated. Those last two teams we play (Centerburg and Loudonville) could knock us off and put us in a tie. This is the game that put us up ahead of everyone.”
The Freddies (7-0, 4-0 Mid-Buckeye Conference) dealt the East Knox Bulldogs their first conference loss last week, 41-12, despite coughing up the ball twice and committing a dozen penalties. The Freddies need to control the football better than they did last week or the Redskins’ big-play offense will make them pay the price.
“(Utica) has an excellent offense,” said Baum. “They do some nice things offensively as well as defensively. We’ll see how we go on Friday night.”
Utica (4-3, 3-1) knows that pulling off a win on Friday would go a long way toward giving their season the lift it needs.
“Obviously, it’s a big game for both teams,” said Utica coach Randy Felumlee. “For ourselves, it would mean a big win over a good opponent and then we could possibly tie for the league championship. That was a preseason goal of ours and put ourselves back in a position to do that.”
The Redskins only MBC loss came at the hands of the Bulldogs earlier in the season. Utica, who was without their starting quarterback Jason Hoar that week, lost to the speedy Bulldogs, jeopardizing their league title hopes.
Fortunately for the Redskins, Hoar (10-for-22 for 137 yards last week against Johnstown) will be in the saddle this week against the Freddies. He ran for a touchdown and passed for another against the Johnnies. He is hoping that he and his team will deal Baum his first taste of defeat as the Freddies’ coach.
Hoar rushed for 105 yards on 15 carries to account for two-thirds of Utica’s ground game last week. His 287 yards for the season are best on the team ahead of Utica running backs Justin Newsome (205 yards) and Scott Cline (168). Cline and Artie Douglas make an effective duo of receivers for the Redskins.
“We have to be aware of Hoar, but (Utica) has other athletes that can beat you just as easily,” said Baum.
“We’re always doing something new,” said Felumlee. It depends on the opponent. We’re not one dimensional by any stretch.”
The 2011 Freddies, who have outscored their opponents 291-58 this season, have left Baum with nothing but smiles as he figures out who to utilize from his deep pool of talent, which is 100 percent healthy and ready to go.