SPARTA — Heading into the first game of the season, most football coaches have plenty of questions about their team. How good is my team? How will they fare when playing another team?
For coaches of young or inexperienced teams, those questions are multiplied.
The coaches from both Highland and Fredericktown are looking to find answers to those questions and more when the two rivals square off in the opening game of the year at Highland. The 7 p.m. game is the Mount Vernon News/Killbuck Savings Bank Game of the Week.
“We want to get off to a good start. It’s nice to start the first game off with a win and try to build from there,” said Highland coach Chad Carpenter.
The teams both like the physical style of play — lining up and smashing their opponents to the best of their ability. The big guys up front will be a key factor in who controls and eventually wins the game.
“We expect a physical game. They have a lot of nice athletes and try to play their style. Their interior line is really good,” Carpenter said. “I think it will be a very physical football game. They continue to do what they do very well. They’ve got an ID — run the football very well.”
The Scots will turn to linemen Colton Stanley, Eddie Kontul and Jacob Brown, among others, to lead the way up front. Carpenter is counting on those guys up front to create holes for running back David Fisher and give time to quarterback Josh Gahm.
Through its two scrimmages, Carpenter saw some good things from his young team.
“More or less we just have to put things together and correct our mistakes,” he said. “It’s a matter of how the young kids adapt and step up to that level of play. We have some things I think we’ll be able to do.”
The Freddies are without the services of three of its top offensive players from a year ago — quarterback Ryan Logan, running back Matt Smith and receiver Nash Cunningham. But, they have plenty of young talent chomping at the bit to show their talents.
Sophomore Austin Hathaway takes over at quarterback, while senior Logan Smith will handle the load at fullback. Sophomore Dennis Sanchez and freshman Brendan Reed will be counted on to pick up the slack at tailback.
Seniors Max Chalfant and Lance McCoy will be expected to help open holes for the young, but talented backfield.
No matter the lineups, whether experienced or not, the game between Highland and Fredericktown is always a battle.
“Every year, they give you everything they’ve got. It’s always a battle for four quarters. We plan on playing for the long haul and seeing how it plays out at the end,” Carpenter said.