Creek faces familiar foe to open season
CAMBRIDGE — For the seventh-consecutive year, Indian Creek will open its season against Cambridge on Friday night.
In the first six meetings, the Redskins are 4-2 and have won all three previous contests at McFarland Stadium.
Given the familiarity between the programs, veteran Creek head coach Andrew Connor has a pretty good idea of what to expect from the Bobcats.
“As long as we’ve played Cambridge, it’s been the opener,” Connor said. “I think it’s good for the kids. It’s kind of become a rivalry game and the games have been close, hard-fought games. It’s a good, early test to see where we are at.”
Cambridge opened the season last year with a narrow 24-20 victory that came down to the wire at Kettlewell Memorial Stadium, springing the Bobcats to a 5-5 campaign.
Of the six meetings, three of them have been decided by one score or less, including both of the Bobcats wins in the series.
The Redskins won, 27-0, in their last visit to Cambridge in 2019 and have victories of 28-7 (2017) and 20-0 (2015) in the series.
“I’m looking forward to a good, hard game,” Connor, whose club finished 3-5 in the unorthodox 2020 season, said. “Each time we’ve played them, they’ve played us tough and last year they held on to beat us, so I think are kids will be highly motivated on the trip to Cambridge this year.”
When the teams met at Kettlewell last year, there were COVID protocols and capacity limits. Friday, Connor is looking forward to a more normal setting for the budding rivalry.
“We’re very excited to have to opportunity to be playing football in front of a full crowd again and have the bands there and everything else,” he said.
When they take the field Friday, Connor and company will be relying on their returning players to help guide the youths through their first experience under the Friday night lights and overcome the first game jitters.
“Both teams will be dealing with it being opening day, maybe a little nervous playing close to the vest,” Connor said. “One of the things you’re always looking at in the opener is whether or not your kids can adjust to the emotion. There is going to be a lot of hype, the kids will be all wound up. You have to learn how to control that.
“We’re going to rely on our experienced guys a lot. You can talk about the first game of varsity, but, until you do it, you can’t really put it in prospective. We have a lot of kids getting their first action on Friday.
“The kids who have played, the seniors especially, their job is going to be to guide those kids.”
As for the Bobcats, Connor has been able to see second-year coach Raymond Leak’s squad on film and in person in a couple of scrimmages and expects the Bobcats to spread the field and challenge his line.
“They like to spread the field out and then run from that spread formation,” Connor said. “They’re good up front, they have good linemen, and their quarterback seemed like he does a pretty good job running their offense.
“Defensively, they come after you. Last year, they showed us a lot of different fronts, whether it was a four-man, three-man or five-man. They’re going to make our offense, especially our line, really have to identify who’s coming and who’s not. It caused us a lot of problems last year and it’s something we’ve been working on all week in practice.”
Adding to the importance of the opener are two things — Cambridge joining the Buckeye 8 Conference and the teams both being in Division IV, Region 15.
“It’s a Buckeye 8 game, they’re in the Buckeye 8 South now, and we’re in the Buckeye 8 North so it’s a crossover game,” Connor said. “We’re both in the same region in the playoffs. This is an important game because if you don’t win, you’re kind of chasing behind them and every time you win, you help them. So, to me, it’s a very important first game.
“It kind of sets the tone for where you are at. You want to get off to a good start, that’s very important to be 1-0, and I think our kids understand that. We’ve stressed that.”