By SCOTT COTTOS
FOSTORIA — Area high school football fans years ago never would have imagined Fostoria and Hopewell-Loudon high schools meeting on the football field.
But school enrollments are among the things that have changed over time, and the two neighboring schools will finally take to the gridiron.
Fostoria (1-1) will make the trip of approximately nine miles to Bascom for a nonconference contest against the Chieftains (0-2) at 7 p.m. Friday.
“(Fostoria athletic director) Michele (Wolf) approached me a couple of years ago,” said Brian Colatruglio, who is the football coach and athletic director at Hopewell-Loudon. “We talked about it and we talked to other people about it. We’ve played each other in everything else for a long time, and it’s turned into a good rivalry. From an AD’s standpoint, it’s always a good gate (financially). With the proximity of the schools and the kids all knowing each other, that adds to it.”
Here are five things to know going into Friday night’s contest:
THE WEEK IN REVIEW: Both Colatruglio and FHS coach Derek Kidwell said they saw significant improvement from the first week of the season.
After a season-opening 49-12 home loss to Oak Harbor, the Redmen last week went on the road and pasted Toledo Scott 43-6.
“We played a very solid defensive game,” Kidwell said. “Our front three and our inside linebackers really controlled the line of scrimmage and got pressure on the quarterback, which made life tough on them. (Quarterback) Dom Settles had a big night for us. He was very efficient for us.”
Settles, a junior, ran for two touchdowns and threw for another. Devin Mauricio added three touchdown runs.
Hopewell-Loudon lost 26-7 at Mohawk last week after a 56-7 defeat at Van Buren in its opener.
“We played physically and mentally tougher than the week before,” Colatruglio said. “We’re not into moral victories, but we got better.”
EXPERIENCE: The differences between having a young team and one full of veterans take hold the most early in the season, before the youngsters have become more seasoned.
The Chieftains are experiencing some growing pains as they start three sophomores and a freshman on offense and four sophomores on defense.
“Fostoria’s just the opposite,” Colatruglio said. “They have 15 seniors and they took some lumps, but now they expect to have a big year.”
BACK WHERE IT STARTED: Kidwell returned to Fostoria to coach his alma mater, and now he’ll take a Redmen team to the place where his head-coaching career was launched in 2000.
Kidwell downplayed the aspect of him coaching against a school where he once worked, but he had kind words regarding his years at H-L.
“It was a great four years, a great community, a lot of support,” he said. “I have nothing bad to say about Hopewell. They gave me my first chance to be a head coach. We’ll go over there and play and it’ll be weird to be on the opposite side, but I’ve been on the opposite side here before, too.”
NEIGHBORHOOD RIVALS: With the proliferation of summer workouts for school teams and social media have come familiarity among opponents. That adds to the anticipation and excitement of the schools’ first-ever football meeting.
Twitter has lately included quite a bit of back and forth between the students of the schools — mostly among those who aren’t on the football teams. But the coaches and players couldn’t avoid the rivalry aspect even if they wanted to.
“It’s been a topic of conversation all summer,” Kidwell said. “I had questions all summer. I had someone within my close circle tell me on July 19 that Hopewell’s going to beat us.”
He added: “I don’t have any social media. We’ll prepare this week, we’ll show up on Friday and I think we’ll be focused and ready to play. Our kids will come out at 7 o’clock and if we keep our emotions in check and execute, we should be OK.”
WHAT TO WATCH: For Hopewell-Loudon, consistent offensive execution will be key, not just for the sake of scoring points but to give the defense time to breathe.
“Our defense played real well,” Colatruglio said of the loss to Mohawk. “We just couldn’t keep (the football) out of Mohawk’s hands.”
Kidwell said his defense will have its eyes on sophomore quarterback Ashton Bour and senior wideouts Travis Milligan and Jordyn Jury.
Fostoria’s athleticism will likely play into both teams’ chances of winning.
“That definitely stands out,” Colatruglio said of FHS’ overall athletic ability. “We’re going to have to be very disciplined defensively and get them on the ground.”
Said Kidwell: “If we give Dom some time, I think our passing game will cause them some problems, along with Dom outside in space. I like our athletes in space against them. I think we’re faster than they are. But it comes down to tackling and blocking. In football, that’s what it always comes down to.”