By SCOTT COTTOS
Coach Derek Kidwell hopes his Fostoria High School football players learned a valuable lesson in last Friday night’s 21-14 loss to Lake.
“The kids have got to learn that they’ve got to come out and play with emotion,” Kidwell said. “Our seniors have 12 quarters left to play together, to come out and play ticked off, to play inspired football. They didn’t do that last week in the first half and spotted a team 21 points.”
That late start in finding its stride left the Redmen’s record at 4-3 overall and 1-3 in the Northern Buckeye Conference. They’ll try to get back on track when they travel to Elmwood for Friday’s 7 p.m. NBC contest.
In the meantime, the Royals have had troubles of their own, only in a more sustained manner. A young Elmwood squad that’s been wracked by injuries stands 1-6 overall and 0-4 in conference play.
Here are five things to know as Friday night approaches:
BOUNCING BACK: Fostoria did all of the second-half scoring in its game against Lake after trailing 21-0 at halftime. The Redmen, however, couldn’t make it all the way back after their sluggish start.
“It was rather frustrating,” Kidwell said. “We were prepared. We knew what they were going to do. They did what we thought they were going to do. We allowed them to just run the ball right down our throat with no resistance. I was disappointed. It was a big game for us and we didn’t play well.”
While their inexperience and injuries have hampered them, first-year coach Greg Bishop said his Royals have continued to fight.
“We’re still playing,” he said. “They aren’t feeling down and they’re playing as hard as they can.”
GOALS: The loss to Lake intensified the difficulty for Fostoria to contend for the league championship or a playoff spot. But after taking the reins of a struggling program four seasons back, Kidwell is looking at this season as still having potential.
“We just want to go out and compete and have more wins than we do losses,” he said. “We’ve still got a chance to go 7-3. Seven and three would be a nice season. It would say that we’re turning the program around somewhat. So, I guess that’s what we’re playing for, is letting these seniors go out three more times together as a unit and competing three more times, and if everything falls into place, we’d like to end up 7-3.”
RIVALRY?: Bishop said that with the proximity of the school districts — they actually do abut — and continued years of playing one another, the potential of growth for an intense rivalry exists.
Athletes have spoken of a rivalry existing in other sports, but Kidwell doesn’t see it at present in football.
“They may feel different in basketball, baseball or something,” Kidwell said. “But I don’t put a rivalry emphasis on this game. I don’t bring it up. That’s never come out of my mouth. It’s just another game on the schedule. There are different connections (in other sports), but football-wise, it’s not a rivalry.”
HOMECOMING: While Kidwell saw his club having a lack of fire in the first half of its homecoming game last week, he expects something different from Elmwood as it celebrates homecoming this weekend.
“I’m sure they’ll come out and play inspired football early on,” Kidwell said. “We’ll have to withstand that rush of emotion and excitement. If we come out and play the football that I’m challenging our kids to play, I think we’ll be OK.”
Bishop said he’s talked to his players about the potential for distraction.
“We need our kids to just focus on the game on Friday,” he said.
ROYAL PAIN: If there’s a silver lining to having a generally young team that’s been hit hard by injuries, it’s in the experience the players are gaining, both mentally and physically.
“We’re getting better,” Bishop said. “The younger kids have gotten better. There are a lot of small steps and a lot of reps. We’re playing hard. They just don’t understand the game of football yet.”
The least-desired place for a team to suffer injuries is quarterback, but that’s where the injury bug has bitten hard. First-stringer Jonah Childress was lost for the season in Week 1, and backup Christian Aldaco suffered a season-ending injury in Week 6.
Freshman Konner Logston is showing promise through a baptism of fire, Bishop said. The youngster completed 8 of 18 passes for 46 yards in last week’s loss to Rossford, with two of the four interceptions he threw being returned for touchdowns.
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