Edison, Harrison seek second victory, hope
CADIZ — The Week 7 matchup between Harrison Central and Edison Friday is one between two teams that have not had the seasons they would have hoped for, with both teams entering with 1-5 records.
Both, however, are taking a lot of pride in representing their schools.
“They play hard; they always do,” Harrison Central coach Justin Kropka said of Edison. “They’ve struggled a little bit this year, but if you watch them play it’s hard to tell. When you have one win, it’s hard for people to notice how hard the kids are playing. I think the situation they were dealt with, both the kids and the coaches, they’ve handled it wonderfully. That tells me all I need to know about the kids and coaches and the character over there.”
The Wildcats got win No. 1 for first-year coach Nate Moses last week, 26-14 on the road at Oak Glen, led by a 306-yard rushing performance from senior Seth Cade.
“The kids are excited to come out of the other end of it for the first time this year,” Moses said. “It’s made for a good week of practice leading up to our next game. With everything that’s gone on from summer time until now, I’m happy for the kids. They’ve been through a lot as a team and as a group.”
The Huskies lost to St. Clairsville for the eighth consecutive year last week and find themselves in an unfamiliar spot at this point in the season.
“We had to make some last-minute changes to our lineup and were behind the eight ball there to begin with,” Kropka said. “St. Clairsville is a good football team. We had a nice drive going and fumbled it away. When you’re struggling, sometimes you get deflated real quick, and it’s tough to battle through that.
“Our kids aren’t used to losing. We’ve only had a handful of losses over the last five or six years, so we’ve got to learn to handle that better. People forget we’ve played some good teams. We’ve played two undefeated teams, a Division I team that is 4-2, St. Clairsville who is 5-1 and two 3-3 teams. We’ve been able to be competitive; we just weren’t last Friday.”
Harrison Central has won the last two meetings between the teams by a wide margin (38-10 last year at Edison and 48-6 the last time the teams met in Cadiz in 2015). A lot has changed on both sides since then.
The Huskies offense is led by versatile senior DeJuan Caldwell. He has completed 17-of-43 pass attempts for 275 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while throwing three interceptions. He’s added another 323 yards and four scores on the ground, averaging just less than seven yards a carry, and is also Harrison Central’s leading pass catcher with 11 receptions for 162 yards.
Leading the way running is junior Ty West, one of the top backs in the area with 725 yards on 99 carries, nine touchdowns and a 7.3 yards per carry average. Sophomore Tucker Coultrap has 74 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries.
“They have athletes, and they are going to play hard,” Moses said. “Their record is not indicative of the talent that they have. (West) for them really hits the hole hard, first and foremost. We’re going to try and stop him. We’re very impressed with their quarterback. He’s very athletic and looks to run. Coach Kropka is going to have them ready to play. We believe it’s going to be a good matchup.”
Catching the ball, West has another 141 yards and a score on eight catches. Senior Caden Arbaugh has hauled in seven passes for 86 yards.
As a whole, the Huskies offense is averaging 230 yards of offense per game, 159.8 on the ground and 70.2 passing, while scoring 18.5 points. Defensively the Huskies are giving up 322.2 yards and 38.2 points per contest. Harrison Central is giving up an average of 180 yards on the ground and 139.3 through the air.
Quarterback Kenny Cranston has led the Edison offense since taking over starting duties early in the season, putting up 275 yards and three touchdowns with three interceptions, completing 56.1 percent of his passes. Cade leads the rushing attack for the Wildcats, racking up 524 yards and a pair of scores on 101 carries and averaging 5.2 yards per.
“Seth ran the ball extremely hard,” Moses said. “You don’t run the ball for over 300 yards in a high school game without running hard. He even said he couldn’t have done it without his teammates. Our offensive has continued to improve and has been a work in progress all year.”
Junior River Pappas has 108 yards and a score on 26 carries, averaging 4.2 per carry. Junior Bryce McAfoose has 11 catches for 100 yards and a touchdown, sophomore Logan Hanchin has nine receptions for 116 yards and a pair of scores, and sophomore Kaleb Waggoner has nine catches for 62 yards.
The Edison offense is averaging 194 yards and 9.8 points, with the strength being the ground game where it averages 125.8 per game. On defense, the Wildcats have yielded 324.8 yards and 30.3 points per game.