Buckeye Local, Edison are playing for all the marbles

HANGING ON — Edison’s Seth Cade hauls in a catch past Steubenville Catholic Central’s Anthony Lefever Saturday. (Photo by Andrew Grimm)

RICHMOND — It is safe to say that it has not been the season that either the Buckeye Local Panthers or Edison Wildcats would have hoped for coming in. Come Friday night when they take the field, both coaches expect big efforts from their respective clubs.

“I think that we are both kind of in the same boat here,” Buckeye Local coach Roger Herbert said. “They have a win under their belt and we don’t, but we are both kind of hanging our hats on the effort of the kids and them showing up every day.”

Edison (1-7) is coming off of a 49-13 loss to Steubenville Catholic Central Saturday at Harding Stadium, while the Panthers (0-8) fell to East Liverpool 35-6 Friday at World War II Memorial Stadium.

For the Wildcats, Friday will be the first home game in almost a month, as Nate Moses’ club has been away from home each of it’s last three games and has not played in front of the home fans since a loss to Union Local on Sept. 22.

“This is Week 9, and this will only be our third home game of the year,” Moses said. “It’s nice to be home, and it feels like we haven’t been at home in a while. We’re looking forward to playing in front of our own crowd again. It would be real special to get a win in front of the home fans for our seniors.”

Despite the disappointing record, Moses has been impressed by the leadership of his seniors.

“Our seniors have really picked up their leadership roles in the locker room,” he said. “It’s nice to see them be leaders and take that upon themselves. We are expecting these last two games to be big weeks for Seth (Cade) and the rest of those guys. They have two more opportunities to go out and leave a mark on Edison football.”

He also knows that despite its record, Buckeye Local is a much improved team and will provide a tough matchup as it tries to get a win on the board.

“When you watch them on film you can see that they are getting better and are impressed with the way they play,” Moses said. “They are definitely a much better football team on both sides of the ball. This is not an easy matchup.”

On the Panthers side of things, Herbert wants nothing more than for his team to get rewarded for that improvement by getting the program’s first win in nearly three seasons.

“We have to get a win in these next two games,” he said. “I’ve preached to the kids that we have to earn a win. Through eight weeks we’ve practiced hard and we’ve played hard, but we still haven’t earned a win. Getting a win for the program would be big.”

The key for the Panthers is to limit the amount of turnovers and mistakes, something that bit them especially hard in the game with East Liverpool as the Potters scored four of five touchdowns on short fields due to interceptions and bad snaps on punts.

“As far as game planning and scheming goes, we are at a point where we are more worried about ourselves because we have beaten ourselves,” Herbert said. “We told the kids if we don’t make mistakes we can win this football game. It happens a lot with teams that are struggling; you find a way to make mistakes. Whichever team makes the least mistakes this week will probably win the football game, and hopefully that is us.”

He knows that despite their record, Edison is going to play hard.

“I got to watch them against Catholic Central, and I though their kids played hard,” Herbert said. “I was really impressed with that. We’ve told our kids all week that they are going to play hard to the last whistle, and that is really commendable. That’s really a testament to their coaching staff. You can tell that they are well coached and doing the best with what they can.”

The Wildcats offense puts up 180.9 yards and nine points per game, with 68.9 passing and 112 on the ground. Senior quarterback Kenny Cranston has completed 42-of-86 passes for 391 yards, four touchdowns and eight interceptions. Sophomore Noah Woods, who started the season as the starter, saw some action against Central and has 133 yards, a touchdown and three picks.

The rushing attack is led by senior Cade, who is one of the top 10 backs in the Herald-Star/Daily Times coverage area with 584 yards and two scores on 133 carries, averaging 4.4 yards per carry. River Pappas has 131 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries, while Woods has 108 and a touchdown on 20 carries.

Junior Bryce McAfoose has 12 catches for 107 yards and a score. Sophomore Logan Hanchin has 11 catches for 132 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Fellow Sophomore Kaleb Waggoner has 10 catches for 88 yards. Cade has eight receptions for 70 and a score, with three of those catches for50 yards and the TD coming against Central.

On defense, the Wildcats surrender 342 yards and 34 points a game. The pass defense is the strength, giving up just less than 100 yards, while the rush defense has yielded 243.1 per game.

On the Panthers side of things, the offense averages 190.4 yards and 9.9 points. The passing game leads the way, especially in the past two games with the return of junior quarterback Shayne Christian from injury, averaging 117.6 yards. In the past two games, Buckeye Local is averaging 262.5 passing yards.

Christian has completed 28-of-59 passes for 565 yards, four touchdowns and seven interceptions, good enough to be the sixth best QB in the area despite being limited to just two starts. Herbert expects him to take another step forward in his third start.

“In two games he’s thrown for almost 600 yards,” he said. “That’s the kind of offense that I like. He made some good reads last week. He’s taking control of the offense, and we’ve given him some freedom to check at the line and change the play, and he’s really grasped what we’re trying to do. I expect him to keep moving forward and putting up big numbers, and hopefully big numbers that lead us to a win this week.”

Senior John Marelli is the Panthers leading rusher with 421 yards and two touchdowns on 102 carries, averaging more than four per carry. Charlie Smith has carried the ball 26 times for 133 and a score with an average of more than five per carry. Christian has 32 yards on 13 carries, a number that is hurt by virtue of being the punter charged with big losses on the bad snaps against East Liverpool.

Senior Josh Dulesky is one of the top three pass catchers in the area, hauling in 26 passes for 409 yards and three scores, drawing high praise from his coach.

“I don’t even think that Josh caught a ball last year, and I can only imagine the numbers he could have if we had our full gamete of offensive guys all year,” Herbert said. “He’s kind of a game breaker. He’s a kid that comes to work every day and is super coachable. I look at him as somebody who could get into coaching someday; that’s how much I think of him.”

Marelli has caught 18 passes for 337 yards and two scores, while senior Kadin Weaver has nine catches for 82 yards.

On defense, the Panthers give up 355 yards and 41.3 points per contest (232.8 rushing and 122.3 passing). Those statistics, according to Herbert, are not entirely indicative of how his defense has played because the offense has put them in bad positions.

Friday’s matchup will come down to mistakes, and according to Moses, the ability to capitalize.

“Mistakes have hurt both of us,” he said. “You could make an argument that it’s going to be the team that capitalizes on the others mistakes better that’s going to win. It is going to be a game. Buckeye is excited for it, and we are as well.”