By SCOTT COTTOS
FOSTORIA — Fostoria High School’s 41-14 win over Elmwood last Friday night in a Northern Buckeye Conference football game was not all that it seemed by the score alone.
The Redmen trailed before going into halftime up 19-14 and did not turn in the type of overall performance that coach Derek Kidwell had desired.
“Just a lack of intensity,” Kidwell said. “We didn’t play the way we talked about playing before we came out. We let a team stick around with us that shouldn’t have stuck around with us.
“We did the same thing against Toledo Scott and almost got in trouble for that one (in a 49-48 overtime win). Luckily for us, in the second half (against Elmwood), we performed better, but it still wasn’t good enough. It should have been a dominating performance and it wasn’t.”
Kidwell will look for — and likely need — a better showing when FHS hosts Rossford in a 7 p.m. NBC contest on Friday night at Memorial Stadium.
Kidwell wants to see his team play inspired, emotional football, but he’s seen just “bits and pieces of playing that way.”
He added: “There have been glimpses of it, but they haven’t been for a complete game.”
Here are five things to know in advance of the Redmen (5-3, 2-3 NBC) hosting the Bulldogs (3-5, 2-3 NBC):
PROGRESS?: Last week’s win assured Fostoria of its first .500 season both under Kidwell and since 2011. With this week’s contest and next Friday’s date at Genoa remaining, Kidwell said he’s not ready to determine whether the program moved forward this season.
“I don’t know. We’ve got two games left, so we’ll see,” he said. “We’ll evaluate everything at the end of the season. There are two games we could have won (against Otsego and Lake). That’s what coaches do. You’re never satisfied until maybe the whole thing’s over and you look back on things. At the moment, though, we’re still going to push and demand stuff from these kids.”
WINNING: A win this week or next would give FHS its first winning season since 2008, when quarterback Micah Hyde — now a Buffalo Bills defensive back — led the Redmen to a 10-2 record and the second round of the playoffs.
Kidwell said he’s not as concerned about that now as he is on the present matter of trying to help his 12 seniors gain a special moment.
“I think a bigger step is it’s a chance for these kids to beat Rossford,” he said. “They haven’t beaten Rossford. And it’s a chance for these seniors to win their last football game on their home field. You always want to send your seniors out on a winning note.”
ON THE RUN?: Maalik Tucker and Jadyn Miller combined to rush for 155 yards last week, but the Redmen mostly haven’t gotten the ground game they’d have desired this season.
The Redmen’s spread offense best operates with senior quarterback Skyler Garcia, who weighs just 150 pounds and sustained a knee injury last year, concentrating on passing the ball.
Still, Kidwell would like to see the line and backs combine for a successful ground game in the season’s final two weeks.
“We’ve tried,” he said. “It’s not due to us not wanting to. It’s not due to us not knowing the importance of it. It’s just a fact that we haven’t gotten it done. … I think we’d run the ball better if we were more of a run-based team. If we ran the quarterback more, we’d run the ball better, but that’s not what we’re going to do. … We ran the ball a little better (against Elmwood), but the caliber of defense in the next two weeks will be a little bit better than the caliber was last week.”
DIFFERENCE MAKER: Fostoria sophomore Devin Mauricio had a huge impact on last week’s game by recording three touchdown runs, catching a scoring pass, rushing for a score and taking a kickoff return to the house.
The performance of the 5-foot-8, 150-pound wide receiver/safety wasn’t particularly remarkable to Kidwell.
“He’s probably our best player on both sides of the ball,” Kidwell said. “He plays a nice free safety for us; he’s second or third on the team in tackles. He has 750 yards receiving this year. He’s taken a kickoff back for a touchdown. He’s taken a punt back for a touchdown.
“He’s a special type of football player. When you have those kids, you’ve got to be creative and you’ve got to be conscious of getting them the ball as many times as you can, or at least give them opportunities to get touches. That’s something we’ve done with Mo this year. And his best football’s still ahead of him. He’s going to be a very good football player when it’s all said and done here.”
ABOUT THE BULLDOGS: Scoring has been a forte for coach Todd Drusback’s Rossford club this season, but it has also had a propensity for giving up points.
Running back Chris Pickett is among the standouts in a spread offense that averages 32.9 points per game.
The Bulldogs’ 3-5 blitz-heavy defense, however, is surrendering an average of 33.3 points per contest.
“It’s a game we can win, but it’s a game we can lose also,” Kidwell said. “They’re dangerous, offensively. I think whoever doesn’t turn the ball over is going to have the best chance to win. They’ve turned the ball over quite a bit in the games that have gotten lopsided on them, so hopefully we can create some turnovers and we can capitalize on them.”
By SCOTT COTTOS