By DAVE HANNEMAN
Findlay wraps up the nonleague portion of its 2019 football schedule when the Trojans host Marysville.
WHEN & WHERE: 7 p.m. Friday at Donnell Stadium.
COACHES: Mark Ritzler is 70-64 in his 14 seasons at Findlay High. Brent Johnson, named Marysville’s head coach in 2017 after serving five seasons as the school’s defensive coordinator, has an 11-11 overall record.
LAST MEETING/OVERALL SERIES: Friday’s contest will be the first football matchup between the two schools.
TALE OF THE TAPE: Findlay (0-2) is still looking for its first win after a 14-7 loss to Anthony Wayne in its season opener and last week’s 42-16 setback to Perrysburg. Marysville, which competes in the Central Division of the 32-school Ohio Capital Conference, is 2-0 with wins over Columbus Northland (49-0) and Delaware (35-14).
NUMBERS GAME: Findlay fared better offensively in Week 2 than in Week 1, increasing its rushing totals from 23 yards to 99 and its total offense from 70 yards to 184. Sophomore quarterback Max Roth had 52 yards on 18 carries and senior back Moses Gaines had 41 yards on 11 attempts. Roth was 9 of 19 passing for 93 yards.
“Again, we got off to a slow start and we still need to run the ball better, but there were some strides,” Ritzler said.
“We have to continue to make plays. When the chances are out there in front of us we have to come up with either the catch or the run we need. Offense is all about execution. That’s why when we’re talking about young kids it’s about repeatedly doing the same things over and over. It’s about making sure they understand the fundamentals and executing those fundamentals, then we should see progress.”
Anthony Wayne and Perrysburg, two highly regarded teams that are both 2-0, churned out a combined 829 yards total offense against Findlay. Anthony Wayne did it mostly on the ground (65 rushes, 228 yards); Perrysburg did it through the air (21 of 43 passing, 377 yards).
An amazing stat compiled by the opposition so far is third- and forth-down conversions. Through two games, opposing teams have converted just 8 of 30 third-down opportunities against Findlay. In fourth-down situations, though, they are a combined 12 of 16.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Marysville runs a wing-T offense built around Chase Kilgore, a 6-foot, 195-pound senior who carried 26 times for 232 yards and four touchdowns in last week’s win over Delaware. An excellent all-around athlete, Kilgore will attend Texas Tech on a baseball scholarship.
“When you look at him, he reminds you a lot of a Cam Dillon-type body,” Ritzler said of the 2018 Findlay High grad now playing linebacker for Columbia University. “A big kid, strong, broad shoulders, fast and can run with power, tough to tackle when he gets out in the open … They move him around a lot with motions, bring him across, put him out wide and throw to him. He’s just a good football player.”
Ritzler said Findlay faced a wing-T offense in scrimmages against St. Marys Memorial and, to a lesser extent, Hilliard Davidson. The key for the defense, Ritzler said, is recognition.
“No. 1, you have to get lined up right,” Ritzler said. “They’re going to move tight ends and slots around, sometimes trade tackles from one side to the other, do some unbalanced, some shifting. They’ll do short motion; they’ll do long motion. And like a good wing-T team, they’ll sneak a boot (leg) in on you, try to drop a back out in the flats, drag a tight end across the field and try to catch your secondary sleeping.
“They do a good job of executing that, so once they come out of the huddle the first thing we have to do is get lined up correctly. If our linebackers and our safeties get us lined up correctly, then we should be okay. If you’re lined up right, it’s just a matter of being physical at the point of attack and tackling well.”
IN REMEMBRANCE: Findlay fans may have noticed a sticker on the Trojans’ helmets this season bearing the No. 19. The decal is in remembrance of Mark Snodgrass, who was an all-league kicker for the Trojans back in the days of the Greater Buckeye Conference (2003-2010).
Snodgrass, the son of former Findlay High coach and athletic director and current Ohio High School Athletic Association Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass, died suddenly in early July at the age of 32.
“It’s to honor a former Trojan, and a group of guys that are suffering a little bit,” Ritzler said.
“I don’t even remember what kind of a season we had back then, but what I talk to the kids about is going to the funeral and seeing all the former players that were there. That’s how much football meant to Mark and being part of that group. It was nice to see that kind of camaraderie.
“I told the kids they are going to have good times, bad times, on the field, off the field in the locker room. And these guys that are here with you, going through the heat and the running and the toughness and the blood and all of that stuff, you’re going to have a bond with these guys you’re going to have the rest of your lives.
“You’re going to be in fantasy football leagues together, you’re going to attend each other’s weddings, and, unfortunately, sometimes, like this group did, you’ll have to get together for a former teammate’s funeral. That’s what football is. You become a close-knit group. That’s why this was the right thing to do.”