No playoff hopes needed when Edison, Indian Creek renew rivalry tonight

Indian Creek’s Derrick Eakle (right) runs after hauling in a pass while Beaver Local’s Torey Calio tries to tackle him on Oct. 13. (Photo by Joe Catullo)

RICHMOND — Neither of the teams will be competing in the playoffs this season, but there is a lot of pride on the line at Cartwright Memorial Field on tonight when Indian Creek and Edison face off in the battle of Route 43 rivalry game.

The rivalry has belonged to the Redskins (5-4), who have won 12 of the last 13 meetings, including the last eight. The Wildcats (2-7) last won over Creek in 2008, a 34-13 win in Wintersville. The Redskins won last year 35-13 at home and 41-8 the last time the teams battled at Edison.

“It’s a rivalry in Week 10,” Indian Creek coach Andrew Connor said. “In any other year nothing else that was going on mattered because of the rivalry. The records don’t matter; it doesn’t matter who is going where or not going where. This is for the bragging rights for the next 364 days after we play.

“Our kids are excited. Both schools know each other really well. We are only separated by less than 15 minutes. It’s great for the two student bodies. Ever since I got the job here, it’s something we’ve treated very special.”

Indian Creek is coming off of a tough 28-25 loss to Columbiana Crestview. This season, when the Redskins are coming off of a loss, they have bounced back by blanking their next opponent.

“It’s what we’ve been preaching all week,” Connor said. “In all of the games we’ve had a bounce back, there’s been a reason to bounce back. When we bounced back against Brooke, it was a rivalry. When we bounced back against Beaver Local, we were playing for the Buckeye 8 North. This week is for the Route 43 title between us and Edison, so we’re going to have a lot of energy playing an arch rival.”

As fun as a big rivalry is, Connor knows the importance of his team being able to not let the emotion of it overwhelm them.

“There will be a lot of emotion,” he said. “In a rivalry game, sometimes you forget about a lot of different things and get caught up in that moment. Both student sections are going to be loud and it’s going to be noisy. You have got to be able to handle the moment.”

It will also be the final game for the seniors on both sides, 10 for the Redskins and seven for the Wildcats.

“People talk about how fast the year goes, but it’s easy to forget how fast four years go,” Connor said. “It’s going to be very difficult for me to see those kids put their uniforms on for the last time. There’s no chance of a Week 11, so you know that this is it. When we get on that bus and head out to Edison it’s these kids last football game, and that’s tough because football is that one sport where you grow together as a family. This group of seniors is like every other group that I’ve had. They’ve been great leaders, shown great character and been great to coach. They’ve left their mark on Indian Creek football.”

On the Edison side of things, the Wildcats are coming off of a 42-19 win over another rival in Buckeye Local last Friday. Despite the tough season Edison has had in terms of their record, Connor is impressed with the effort.

“With all the stuff they’ve been through, to come out there and play every week as hard as they have is impressive,” he said. “We’ve seen them in person and they really play hard. Ever since I’ve been a coach here, the one thing that has always stood out about Edison is they play hard and aggressive. I’m fortunate to get know some of those kids because I teach at the JVs, and a lot of the Edison football players take my class. I’m very impressed with how their coaching staff has held them together and made them better as the year has gone on.”

The Redskins offense is averaging 314.1 yards and 27.1 points, putting up 109.8 yards on the ground and 204.3 through the air. Junior quarterback Brennon Norris leads that offensive attack, and he is the leading passer in Herald-Star/Daily Times coverage area with 1,830 yards and 13 touchdowns with just five interceptions, completing 138-of-234 pass attempts for a completion percentage of 59.

Norris has had the top receiver in the area hauling in his passes in senior Devin Eakle, who has 48 receptions for 665 yards and six touchdowns. Twin brother Devon Eakle is in the top 5 of area pass catchers with 28 grabs for 400 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while junior Matt Mamula has hauled in 11 passes for 266 yards and two scores, averaging more than 24 yards a catch.

Sophomore running back Trevore Fante is one of the top 10 backs in the area with 656 yards and 13 touchdowns on 159 carries, averaging 4.1 yards per. Fellow sophomore Johnell Blair has averaged just less than six yards per carry with 107 yards on 18 touches, and Norris has a rushing touchdown as well.

The Indian Creek defense has pitched four shutouts this season and is the second-ranked defense in the area, giving up just 205.1 yards and 13.1 points through nine games. The Redskins give up just 85.6 passing yards and 119.6 rushing.

Edison has used a pair of quarterbacks in senior Kenny Cranston and sophomore Noah Woods. Cranston has completed 44-of-91 passes for 396 yards, four touchdowns and nine interceptions with a completion percentage of 48.4. Woods has completed 16-of-35 for 159, two touchdowns and three picks with a completion perecentage of 45.7. Woods turned in a big performance against Buckeye Local in Week 8 with three rushing touchdowns and a passing touchdown, getting most of the snaps at the position.

Another player who had a big night against Buckeye Local is senior running back Seth Cade, who is the sixth-ranked back in the area with 738 yards on 151 carries and four touchdowns, averaging 4.9 yards per. He rushed for two scores and for a second straight week caught a touchdown pass last Friday. Junior River Pappas has 143 yards and a touchdown on 38 carries, and Woods averages well over five yards per rushing for 183 total and four scores on 35 carries.

Junior Bryce McAfoose has 107 yards and a touchdown on 12 catches, sophomore Logan Hanchin has 132 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 11 catches, and Cade has 95 yards and two scores on 10 catches out of the backfield.

The Edison offense averages 194.1 yards and 12.7 points per game, with 129.4 coming on the ground and 64.7 through the air. On defense, the Wildcats have surrendered 335.9 yards and 32.3 points, giving up 218.6 rushing and 117.3 passing.