HAZELWOOD: Three weeks in, a look at each area team

Mark Hazelwood • Sep 10, 2018 at 9:48 PM

Three weeks are in the books, and we’re starting to see some things take shape among the area high school football teams.

As usual, there are a few surprises, but also a lot of the status quo among the 10 teams in the Reflector coverage area. Let’s jump right in, starting with the four teams who do not begin league play yet:

Norwalk (2-1)

The Truckers are already a win away from matching last season’s total, but that’s not really a surprise.

One thing we knew about Norwalk was it had the power running game with Trevon Raymore, who has already totaled 479 yards and three touchdowns in three games. But the dimension of sophomore Garrett Chapin (34-of-55, 502 yards, 3 TDs, 3 INTs) while throwing to Brandon Haraway and Kaden Livingston among others makes this a tough offense.

If Norwalk can fix the turnover bug (11 in three games) and continues to get solid defense, this will be a team that can contend for the SBC Lake and playoffs between now and the end of October.

The schedule is unrelenting virtually every week, especially with the early emergence of Tiffin Columbian. But make no mistake, Norwalk has the pieces to be right there by the end of October.

Willard (1-2)

The Crimson Flashes have certainly been a mixed bag of results through three weeks.

On one hand, the Flashes are a play away from being 2-1 ahead of this week’s game at Lakota in their SBC River opener. But had Willard not recovered from a 21-0 hole in Week 2 vs. Plymouth, it could very easily be 0-3.

The one consistent bug for the Flashes so far has been early deficits. They trailed South Central and Plymouth by three touchdowns before mounting furious rallies, and of course were never untracked last week against potent Shelby.

On paper, the SBC River division runs through Tiffin Calvert and Gibsonburg. Willard will play neither until the last two weeks of the season, so this is a chance to get a strong start.

Edison (3-0)

The Chargers have been exactly what was expected so far.

Yes, there is no longer names such as Stoll, Moyer, Hall and Goodwin putting up monster stats — but this eight-player senior class hasn’t exactly been quiet through three weeks.

Edison has outscored its three opponents by a 116-52 margin (39-17 average), with Cas Mastropoalo scoring 8 TDs with over 400 yards rushing. Caleb Bissell has developed into a solid option quarterback, and the Edison defensive line is rock solid.

Add it all up, and you have a consistent program under Jim Hall that is 35-7 since 2015. The Chargers trip to Norwalk this Friday is certainly the one to keep an eye on this week.

Bellevue (0-3)

Only a couple of times have the Redmen ever started 0-3 under Ed Nasonti, but a closer look shows there is more to this than meets the eye.

Bellevue lost by a point (14-13) in Week 1 to Canton Central Catholic, a program two years removed from a Div. V state championship. Then there was a buzzsaw loss to Clear Fork (3-0), which hasn’t lost a regular season game since 2016.

And last week, the Redmen nearly stole one in a 31-27 loss vs. West Holmes (3-0), a Div. III team that had trounced its first two opponents.

So it’s likely the Redmen’s playoff chances are already in trouble, and things are no easier with Shelby (3-0) at home this week.

The reality is Bellevue is in the rare spot of returning just 5-of-22 starters from a regional runners-up team. The schedule hasn’t done any favors, but I wouldn’t be in a hurry to write off a program with a 200-plus wins coach.

St. Paul (2-1)

Like Bellevue, because St. Paul also has a 200-plus wins head coach, most just assume the Flyers plug right along without a bump in the road.

And the reality is, they generally have with the gaudy numbers put up since 1992. But it’s also never that easy. And similar to the Redmen, the talent the Flyers have had to replace from 2017’s state semifinalist team was significant.

That has led to some early up and down moments, though it may have been hard to tell in wins over SMCC and SJCC totaled a a 79-6 margin of victory. But with last week’s 33-14 setback vs. Tiffin Calvert (3-0), it marked the first regular season loss in three years for St. Paul.

I’m quite certain the Flyers will bounce back in a hurry, as they have a Firelands Conference title to defend for a potential seventh straight year. If all goes well and works out for the next seven weeks, who knows, perhaps a rematch with Calvert is in the cards in November for a second straight year?

W. Reserve (0-3)

Another example of a schedule doing no early favors — especially for a first-year head coach.

Ty Stevenson took over the Roughriders this fall, and has been greeted by Black River, Margaretta and Edison. Next up is Crestview this week. That’s no easy task when trying to implement things in a new system with a new voice — but it can also pay off in the long run.

Western had some bright spots in each of the last two weeks, but were missing the key defensive stop or two to keep them in the game longer. Stevenson knows the FC inside and out, and the ‘Riders’ will be rewarded soon enough.

Monroeville (3-1)

The Eagles also found out how tough it is to stop Calvert’s Austin Jones and Trent Cooper in Week 1, but have found themselves over the last six quarters that has produced a pair of wins.

Monroeville trailed SMCC at halftime, but have outscored the Panthers and Margaretta last week by a 66-16 margin since. Four-year player Adam Rogers has stepped up in a big way in the Eagles backfield and the defense has settled in nicely.

The Eagles have a big one at Mapleton (2-1) in their FC opener on Friday, a game that figures to play a role in playoff and league implications for both.

New London (0-3)

While winless still, things have gotten better for the Wildcats by each week so far.

Whether that shows up in the win column sooner than later remains to be seen — and with a trip to St. Paul this Saturday with the Flyers coming off a loss, it will be a tall order for the ‘Cats.

New London trailed by 4 TDs in the first quarter of a 47-13 loss to Lutheran West (3-0) in Week 1, then fell 34-7 at Firelands (2-1) in Week 2. Last week the ‘Cats fell by 12 (34-22) at Wellington, but got 12-of-23 passing for 187 yards and 2 TDs out of QB Payton Wilson to provide a spark.

There was a long way to go when Kemmes Keys took the job in February, but the Wildcats have athletes — which means there is a chance to put something together.

South Central (3-0)

How rare are 3-0 starts entering FC play at South Central? Just three times in 40 years is the answer, which includes this current Trojans team.

Once South Central survived a 32-26 win in overtime at Willard in Week 1, it was most certainly going to be heavily favored against Danbury and Crestline.

But the Trojans — suddenly getting statewide recognition at No. 12 in the Div. VII Associated Press state poll — did what good teams do against the Lakers (54-14) and Bulldogs (38-13) with decisive wins.

Now, here comes the hard part. The Trojans play three straight 2-1 teams to open FC play, starting with nearby rival Plymouth at home this Friday. The argument can certainly be made how South Central handles this three-game stretch will determine if the final month of the season has the potential to be one of the biggest in program history.

Plymouth (2-1)

Again, the Big Red is an example of another area team that probably feels like it’s a play or two away from a perfect 3-0 start to the season.

But give Plymouth credit. After losing a 21-0 lead in a 38-35 loss at Willard, they pushed around a team it should have in Buckeye Central, which can do nothing but help the confidence level.

Like South Central, the Big Red have huge implications with this week’s game in Greenwich. A potential 3-1 start would give Plymouth a jumpstart in FC play, and give it an opportunity to improve on last season’s 4-6 record.

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