|Eagles look to build on season-opening win (09-05-13)|
|Written by KEVIN GORDON Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor|
|Thursday, 05 September 2013 09:55|
LUCKEY - Eastwood's football team worked hard and maintained a positive attitude during the offseason.
The Eagles were intent on rebounding from last season's 5-5 record.
Their season-opening 40-21 win at Patrick Henry has them believing they're headed in the right direction.
Eastwood faces another difficult assignment Friday night when it hosts Clyde (1-0) at 7.
"That was a great win because it really helps our confidence. It shows we can play with anybody," said senior Jacob Rahe, who plays on the offensive and defensive lines.
PH has one of the most successful programs in Northwest Ohio. The Patriots, 10-3 last season, have advanced to the playoffs 11 straight seasons and won a state title in 2005.
"Our hard work is paying off," said senior quarterback/defensive back Jake Schmeltz. "We don't want this season to be like last season and we're going to work our butts off. We knew we had a talented team. We knew we had to put in our work and work together as a team, and it's paying off."
Last fall ended Eastwood's streak of 11 straight seasons with at least six wins, although the Eagles were 5-2 for second place in the Northern Buckeye Conference.
The Eagles returned 15 lettermen from last season, including eight juniors who saw significant playing time.
"We did more lifting and conditioning than we did last season, and we worked out all summer," Rahe said.
"As a whole group, our team, this is the hardest we've ever worked," said Eagle coach Jerry Rutherford, who is in his 32nd season. "To win at (PH) has got to make our kids feel good and it has to make them realize that if they work hard good things will happen."
Rutherford was pleased with his team's performance at PH, which held a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
The Eagles totaled 259 yards, with Brennan Seifert and Devin Snowden combining to rush for 99 yards. Schmeltz was 7-of-11 passing for 111 yards and three TDs. Seifert and Snowden combined for five receptions.
Five different Eagles scored.
The line of Andrew Blair at left tackle, Shane VanVorce at left guard, Rahe at center, Tyler McCrory at right guard and Jack Heckman at right tackle blocked well.
"We have a lot more guys involved offensively and they're making plays," Rutherford said
Eastwood passed only 60 times last season, but had the 11 passes against PH. The Eagles are still running the Wing T formation.
"We want to have confidence we can throw the ball on first down, so it's not second and 13," Rutherford said. "We're always going to be a Wing T team, but we want to be able to throw the ball a little bit more and that will help the other things we do."
Eastwood allowed 372 yards, but allowed just one TD over the final three quarters.
The defense intercepted three passes and recovered two fumbles. Jordon Faykosh had two of the interceptions, one setting a TD that gave Eastwood a 21-14 lead with only 14 seconds to go in the first half.
Snowden and Ryan Mang each had 11 tackles, and Seifert and Grant Geiser each had nine.
"Our defense really settled in once they got used to what they were doing," Rutherford said.
Clyde, expected to challenge for the Sandusky Bay Conference championship, opened with a 13-7 win over Tiffin Columbian.
"We're a better team now than we were at the end of last season," Rutherford said. "We're a pretty good football team right now and for us to become a great football team, if comes down to what we do Monday through Wednesday each week to get better.
"Even in a win (against PH), there are so many areas we can improve on," Rutherford continued. "The biggest thing is carrying out our assignments. Our kids are playing hard, but it's a matter of them knowing where they're supposed to be and what they're supposed to do on every play."
Eastwood also is hoping to return to the playoffs after missing the postseason last fall.
"(PH) is just one win and we have to build on it and improve," Rahe said. "We can't be satisfied with one win."
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