By SCOTT COTTOS
While Fostoria High School’s football team encountered an all-too-familiar scenario last week, Elmwood enjoyed a change of pace.
While little went right for the Redmen in a 41-8 loss at Lake, the Royals thrilled a home crowd by ending a 13-game losing streak both overall and in the Northern Buckeye Conference by defeating Rossford 30-13.
Elmwood (1-6, 1-3 NBC) this week will try to gain a second straight triumph as it visits Memorial Stadium for a conference homecoming contest against Fostoria (2-5, 1-3). Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
“We had a great week of practice,” second-year Royals coach Greg Bishop said of the victory over Rossford while also acknowledging that the Bulldogs were weakened by the loss of quarterback Kyle Kromenacker to a knee injury. “All week we talked about believing in ourselves.”
FHS coach Derek Kidwell said his club committed a variety of mistakes while losing its second consecutive contest.
“I’ll give Lake credit,” Kidwell said. “They were physical and they had a nice game plan.”
Here are five things to know about the battle between neighboring schools:
THE WEEK IN REVIEW: Though Elmwood was drubbed in the four games immediately preceding last week, it had narrow misses to open the season against Gibsonburg (20-14) and Lakota (26-19).
The Royals finally broke through as 5-foot-8, 190-pound senior Garrett Wright rushed for 241 yards.
“There’s still a lot of room for improvement, but we have been getting better,” Bishop said.
Kidwell would like a better showing after a game in which he said the Flyers’ dominance of the line of scrimmage played a big factor.
“The team that wanted it more won,” he said. “The team that was more physical won.”
CONFIDENCE: Elmwood’s faith in itself is likely to be at a season-long high after notching its first victory.
“Seeing your hard work pay off definitely gives you some confidence,” Bishop said.
Kidwell said his team was unshaken by the loss at Lake.
“The kids’ spirits are OK,” Kidwell said. “We’ve got three games left. I talked to them about going out and having fun and building toward next year. We’re junior dominated. We’ve got a chance to win at least two of these three final ballgames (against Elmwood, Rossford and Genoa). Go out and have fun.”
HOMECOMING: Kidwell doesn’t want it to be a distraction to his players and doesn’t think it will be.
“We’ve had a game delayed a half-hour,” he said. “Kids are resilient. We’ve practiced at different times — in the morning during summer, after school during the school year, and we play at 7 o’clock. These kids are conditioned to know that when they put their helmets and shoulder pads on, they should be ready to give us maximum effort.”
FIELD DEDICATION: At the end of halftime, the playing surface at Memorial Stadium will be named Dick Kidwell Field in honor of Derek Kidwell’s father, who coached FHS to a record of 174-50-3 from 1977-1996. His teams won 12 Great Lakes League championships, reached the playoffs 10 times, competed in four state title games and won state crowns in 1991 and 1996.
“It’ll be emotional to see him and Mom (Dixie) be able to enjoy it,” said Derek Kidwell, who quarterbacked the 1991 state championship team and was honored that year as the state’s Mr. Football. “They’re still in good enough health to embrace it and enjoy it, to understand the impact they’ve had on this community and the impact they’ve had on a lot of young men through his 20 years.”
ABOUT THE ROYALS: Offensively, Elmwood plays out of a run-first spread in which Wright has been their primary weapon. Defensively, the Royals typically line up in a 4-4 front.
Just as Bishop said a priority for success will be containing Fostoria’s ground attack — senior tailback Maalik Tucker is coming off a 111-yard night against Lake — Kidwell said the Redmen can’t let Wright run wild.
“Obviously, they’ll have a better week of practice, a better week of preparation and they’ll come in here with a better mindframe,” Kidwell said of Elmwood. “I’m sure they’re going to be expecting to get their second victory. It’s going to be our job to not allow that to happen.”