Redskins finally come home

RUNNING ALL OVER — Indian Creek’s Jakih Scales races down the sidelines against East Liverpool on Friday. (Photo by Joe Catullo)

WINTERSVILLE — After going on the road the first two weeks of the season and picking up convincing wins over Cambridge (28-7) and East Liverpool (27-0), the Indian Creek Redskins open the home portion of the 2017 season Friday night at Kettlewell Memorial Stadium when the 1-1 Alliance Aviators come to town.

“Everything we thought they were when we picked them up is what they are,” Indian Creek coach Andrew Connor said. “It’s a good test for us to see where we are at as a program and see where our kids are at.”

To have success, the Redskins need to figure out how to stop a skilled and experienced Alliance offense.

“(Duce Johnson) is a very good tailback for them. He’s been running the ball for them for three years now,” Connor said. “Their quarterback (Howard Frazier) is very talented. He can run and can run the read option play very well. He knows when to give it. Their slot receiver (Demarko Brooks) gives them some speed for them to try and get out in the open, especially on bubbles and some (read-pass options) that they do. Their offensive line is going to be big and physical up front.

“Offensively they present a lot of challenges for us, whether it is running the ball or when they do the read-pass option stuff, which their quaterback does well.”

So far, Connor is pleased with how the Redskins’ season has gone.

“Winning at Cambridge, especially after last year and then up at East Liverpool, a tough place to play, I’m very happy,” he said. “I thought East Liverpool played us very well. It was a very physical football game, and I thought our kids responded well to it.”

One of the keys to that good start for the Redskins has been the performance of sophomore runningback Trevor Fante. He has 234 rushing yards sand five touchdowns so far this season, averaging 4.1 yards per carry.

“Our bread and butter at Indian Creek is running the football,” Connor said. “Trevor has done a very good job of getting behind that big offensive line of ours and making some good cuts behind it. We’ve been able to do something that we want to do, which is control the time of possession.”

Defense has been a strong point as well, giving up just seven points and an average of 154 yards of offense against per game, something Connor attributes to his team’s ability to track the ball.

“Something that we’ve been able to do very well, when we go back and watch the film from the games, is get 11 white helmets to the football,” he said. “We practice that. I feel good about the fact that we do not put ourselves in bad situations where we are doing one-on-one or even two-on-one tackling. We are getting three or five guys to the ball, and obviously you become a lot better tackling football team when you don’t have to do it in space and the kids have done that well.

“You want to have athleticism on defense, and I think we have a lot of kids that can run to the football. They’ve played with a lot of energy and a lot of passion, and right now I feel very good about where our defense is at.”

As impressive as the wins away from Wintersville have been, Connor and company are happy to finally be at home in front of their fans.

“I think there is always something special when you open up the season at your place,” he said. “It will be exciting; it will be really exciting for our seniors. We’ve traveled really well the last two weeks, and I’m sure that we’ll have a big crowd awaiting us at Kettlewell on Friday night. The kids are playing well. We’ve gotten a lot of kids into the games the last two weeks, and I think there is some excitement about where we are at right now.

“We’ve played each week one week at a time, and we’ve put ourselves in a good position right now winning two on the road to start the year. Right now the key thing is to keep focusing week in and week out. We want to get better each day. The kids are committed right now, and they are focused. That is all we can ask for. They’ve represented this school district well the first two weeks of the year, and they are excited to get back on the field Friday night.”