Oak Glen wants the bridge

EAST LIVERPOOL — The Oak Glen and East Liverpool football teams will continue their long time rivalry as the Golden Bears take on the Potters at 7:30 p.m. Friday night at Patterson Field in the “Battle of the Bridge.”

Both teams are entering the game coming off of losses. Oak Glen (2-3) enters coming off of a 26-14 loss to then-winless Edison at home, while East Liverpool (1-5) lost to Martins Ferry 49-18 on the road. The Potters’ lone victory came against Edison in the opening week.

Both teams struggled to stop the run in their losses last week. The Golden Bears allowed nearly 400 yards on the ground to the Wildcats. Seth Cade collected 306 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

“We had intended to slow down their running game, but we did not match up as well with them as I thought we would,” Oak Glen head coach Ted Arneault said. “That is something we are going to have to continue to work on this week.”

The Potters gave up 177 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. Dalton Hoover led the way for the Purple Riders with 141 yards and all five touchdowns.

After scoring 21 points in their opener, East Liverpool is averaging less than nine points a game.

“Offensively, they are completely different this season,” Arneault said. “They are more ground and pound. They run two-back and three-back sets. They have a really quick and talented tailback. They have some big and strong offensive lineman. Offensively, they try to impose their will on the ground.”

East Liverpool has given up 33, 43 and 49 points in the last three weeks, though Arneault believes it is showing resiliency.

“They had a tough time last week against Martins Ferry,” he said. “Martins Ferry is a big and physical team. They did shut out Edison early in the season, so that proves what they are capable of doing. They want to impose their will. They are a big, physical, veteran team. We are going to have to match.”

After defeating the Wildcats 21-0 at home in Week 1, East Liverpool has lost to Indian Creek (27-0), Salem (17-6), Southeast (33-7), Beaver Local (43-12) and Martins Ferry.

“They call this game the ‘Battle of the Bridge,'” Arneault said. “Our kids like to hang out a lot in Calcutta. They see and know a lot of the East Liverpool kids. They have been playing with and against each other since they were very small, I’d say maybe since T-ball.

“We are not in the same state, but they are the closest school to us. It is a big game. I would say in the last 20 or 30 years it has become a big rivalry for us and for the Ohio Valley.”

Last week’s loss to Edison snapped Oak Glen’s two-game winning streak.

“You can throw out the records,” Arneault said about this week’s game. “I’m not looking at their record. I don’t think their record is indicative of the type team they are. This is going to be a game that is going to come down to turnovers and ball control. It is going to be an exciting game.”

Notes:

¯ The Golden Bears enter the game minus some key players. They have been without Hunter Skeeles since the opening week and Tonny Minnis. Blake Almo is questionable with a pinched nerve.

“We are playing without some key guys,” Arneault said. “It has given some of younger guys the chance to get some experience.”

¯ Last year, East Liverpool defeated Oak Glen 45-7 in Week 7 on the road. The Potters defeated the Golden Bears 28-7 in Week 7 of the 2015 season at home.

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