Created on Thursday, 17 September 2009 Written by AARON LaBATT
A lot has gone right for the West Liberty-Salem football team in the first three weeks of the season.
The Tigers hope the good times continue to roll when they travel to Triad on Friday for the first week of Ohio Heritage Conference action.The Tigers are 3-0, ranked 18th in Division V in the first Associated Press state poll, have scored a total of 130 points and have allowed just 10 points on defense.
While pleased with his team’s play thus far, WL-Salem head coach Toby Smith has his team focused on getting off to a good start in league play against the Cardinals (1-2).
“It’s huge to win the first league game,” said Smith. “I believe in the last six years the OHC champion has gone undefeated, so you have to win every game if you want to have a chance at winning the league. We feel like we need to take every game like it’s a playoff game. We need to come out and take care of business on Friday nights.”
Smith said the key to Friday’s game is continuing to do what the Tigers have done in their first three games.
“It’s the same recipe for us,” he said. “We have to limit the big plays, win the turnover battle and make as few mistakes as possible.”
WL-Salem’s defense has been equally impressive. It is the top-ranked defense in the Springfield area. The Tigers have allowed only 416 total yards.
Against a big-play offense like Triad, Smith said his defense will have to be on its toes.
“They are explosive,” said Smith. “They have the ability to score on any play and that is the beauty of the offense they are in. They don’t need 10- or 14-play drives. Instead, they only need one play, so we have to be prepared for what they do. We have to limit the number of big plays they have.”
The Cardinals have been under the directionof freshman Matt Freville, a 6-3, 175-pound quarterback who has thrown for an area-best 498 yards.
“We have to tackle their receivers,” said Smith. “They’ll complete passes and we can’t let (Kaleb) Deam, (Addison) Ford and their other receivers get loose. We have to try and corral them and make them earn their points. We can’t just hand them points.”