YORKVILLE - Two Buckeye 8 teams coming off Week 4 losses are set to meet Friday with the Edison Wildcats traveling to Buckeye Local for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
The 2-2 Panthers come into Week 5 looking to get above .500 for the first time this season and kickstart some momentum heading into the second half of the season.
"It's important for us to pick up a win this week and be above .500 at the midway point," said Buckeye Local head coach Phil Pest. "We have Martins Ferry in front of us the following week so a win this week would give us some momentum. We play at home and we play very well at home so it is definitely important for us to pick up a win this week."
The Wildcats (1-3) are looking to move away from a loss that felt strongly self-inflicted last week against Union Local.
"We hurt ourselves more than we helped ourselves last week," said McKenzie. "First of all I don't want to discredit Union Local because the fact is they played hard and didn't quit.
"We hurt ourselves with 12 penalties for 129 yards to their three penalties for 25 yards. When you have six turnovers and a discrepency in penalties like that it's going to be hard to beat anybody."
Offensively Pest sees his squad's largest point of resistance to be the Edison defensive front.
"Edison is good up front," said Pest. "We're going to have to spread the field, and I expect to have to throw a little more than I like to.
"I'm comfortable doing that because we do have speed. Hopefully we can get out on the edges to utilize it."
McKenzie recognizes the Panthers speed, and realizes his team has to be ready to stop a multitude of weapons.
"They have a number of players with speed that can make plays," he said. "(Andy) Stock is a three-year starter with speed and we have to keep him from getting the edge. (Austin) Marshall runs for tough yards inside, but also has speed and can break plays. (Shane) Duncan has stepped up as a threat on the outside for them at receiver.
"We have to be aware of him. He has made a couple of big touchdown catches the past couple weeks. They are all very good and are capable of scoring whenever they touch the ball."
Though Edison spreads things out offensively, the Wildcats have had their most success with the rushing attack led by Chris Graziani.
"The running game has been good," said McKenzie. "Chris has had a good year and we anticipated that he would. He has good speed and is explosive.
"He's has an 85-yard and a 70-yard touchdown called back. In all he's had three touchdowns called back in four games.
"He provides us with an opportunity to score at anytime, and he proved that against Oak Glen in Week 1 with that 99-yard run."
Pest knows for his team to have success it will have to slow down the Wildcats' ground game.
"We have a plan in place for their running game," he said. "Mainly though we have to play fundamental football, play our defense, and get better."
McKenzie feels his team's biggest problem has been inconsistency and if they find that there is potential for excitement.
"Offensively we have to be more disciplined and execute better," he said. "We can be explosive and we are in stretches. The common theme since our scrimmages is that we lack consistency."
In the end there's no big secret to finding a way to win Friday's matchup. The key is something every coach tries to teach their team.
"We need to play fundamentally sound football," said Pest. "We need to limit penalties, tackle well, and win special teams."