NEW MANCHESTER - "It's going to be a battle" is how first-year Oak Glen football coach Ian Whittington characterized Friday's game with invading Indian Creek. Game time is 7 p.m. in the Bear's Den at Oak Glen High School.
"I think they're excited," Indian Creek head coach Andrew Connor said of his team. "They realize they won a game last week where they had to put a lot of effort in for the entire game to get the win.
"Like I said Friday, it was a gut check. They do realize Oak Glen is a better ball club. They realize we're heading into a hostile environment at their new stadium and are looking forward to the challenge."
Both teams enter the game unbeaten with impressive wins and Whittington says preparing for the Redskins is like looking in the mirror.
"They are big and have an athletic quarterback with speed on the outside just like us," Whittington said.
Whittington was referring to senior quarterback Alex Young, who has been a key offensively and defensively. Young, along with junior Tran Huynh, have helped the Redskins beat Weir High 52-12 and East Liverpool, 26-12.
(games at 7 p.m. unless noted)
52 at Weir High 12
26 East Liverpool 12
Sept. 7 at Oak Glen
Sept. 14 St. Clairsville
Sept. 22 at Bellaire, 12:30 p.m.
Sept. 28 Union Local
Oct. 5 at Martins Ferry
Oct. 12 Harrison Central
Oct. 19 at Buckeye Local
Oct. 27 Edison
(games at 7 p.m. unless noted)
37 vs. Edison 28
45 Wellsville 0
Sept. 7 Indian Creek
Sept. 14 at John Marshall, 7:30 p.m.
Sept 21. Catholic Central
Sept. 28 at Weir High
Oct. 5 at Tyler Consolidated
Oct. 12 at East Liverpool
Oct. 27 Pt. Pleasant, 1:30 p.m.
Nov. 2 Magnolia
"Alex is running the offense well," said Connor. "He's staying within himself and not forcing issues. He's content with playing in the offense.
"We're blessed ith a lot of backs doing well who all have had big runs and carries for us. Logan (Woods), Blake (Roar), Tran, and Darren (Gribble) can share the load offensively. Tran has rushed for over 200 yards this year and he's our third back behind Logan and Blake."
The statistics bear out Whittington's mirror image opinion as both teams are highly ranked in team offense and defense among the 11 teams in this newspaper's coverage area.
Oak Glen tops the schools in team offense with a total of 873 yards in two games. The Redskins rank third with 801 total yards.
The teams match up well defensively, too, with Oak Glen ranked second overall yielding 283 rushing yards and 118 passing. Indian Creek is right behind giving up 339 rushing yards and only 91 passing. After pitching a 45-0 shutout last week, the Golden Bear defense has yielded 28 points, that in the season opening 37-28 win over Edison. Indian Creek's defense has given up just 24 points.
Whittington said Indian Creek likes to run the football and use the pass to mix it up occasionally. He said the Redskins use a 4-3 defense with a big, athletic line and the versatile Young picking off passes from his safety spot.
"They work hard at stopping the run just like we do," he said.
Oak Glen junior Bub Haddox, who is in his first year of varsity football, has burst on the scene as one of the better quarterbacks in the Ohio Valley.
"I would say his athleticism is what makes him most dangerous," said Connor. "That's the big thing you see with him. He makes people miss in the open field. A kid that has never played and is that good is impressive.
"He's impressed us with his elusiveness when he's running with the football."
He is second among area ball carriers in the early going with 297 yards on 24 carries and leads everyone in scoring with six touchdowns on the ground. In addition, Haddox has completed 15 of 18 passes for 117 yards.
"Bub is a playmaker," said Whittington. "He does it with his legs and his arm and plays with a lot of heart. For a first year guy, he is doing all the right things. I know going into the season we were a little nervous about putting him at quarterback without any high school experience, but he just continues to get more confidence and gets better."
Oak Glen has accomplished all of its offense without projected starting running back, Tyler Steed. The senior veteran was injured during the preseason and hasn't played, but Whittington expects him to be available this week against the Redskins.
With Steed out, the Golden Bears have relied on senior Trey Smith and junior Tyler Campbell to do a lot of the running and they have come through. Campbell has rushed for 173 yards and Smith has 154.
"We have developed a three-headed monster in our backfield with those two and Haddox, but now with the addition of Tyler (Steed) we have a four-headed monster," he said. "It's good for us as we can keep our backs with fresh legs at all times, and Steed will bolster us defensively, too, at outside linebacker."
Connor sees the Golden Bears' offensive line as a huge reason for tehir early season success.
"We've seen them play in person once and once on tape," he said. "We knew how good their line would be coming into the season. They have a lot of veterans who are well experienced, and are very good at opening holes.
"We have to be ready for a 48 minute game because they are really good up front."
Whittington said his keys to victory are similar to what they have been the first two games of the season, to play physical and stop the run
"If we play physical like we did last week, we'll be okay," he said. "But it still will be a battle. There is no doubt about that."
Stated Connor, "We have to play emotional football. They've done a good of playing emotional and Coach Whittington has done a great job getting them to play that way. I can't say enough about the job he has done getting his kids ready to play football."