|Eastwood faces tough test (11-08-13)|
|Written by KEVIN GORDON Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor|
|Friday, 08 November 2013 10:13|
LUCKEY - Eastwood's football team faces a difficult challenge this week.
But the Eagles are embracing the chance to play defending state champion Coldwater in a Division V regional quarterfinal Saturday night at 7.
The Cavaliers, ranked sixth and 8-2 overall, have played in the last four state championship games.
Of course, Eastwood is no playoff stranger, either.
The Eagles are in the playoffs for the eighth time in the last 11 seasons.
Eastwood's last playoff appearance was in 2011 when it advanced to the second round.
The Eagles also are 8-2 and they're ranked 14th.
"We know it's a big challenge, but we're not running from it," said Eagle senior defensive end Michael Glaze. "We have to stay hungry, and prepare just like we have every other week. We're playing well and we're playing as a team."
Most of the Eagles' seniors were on the team when Eastwood lost to Columbus Bishop Hartley in the 2011 playoffs, and junior standout running back/defensive back Devin Snowden played in the game.
"Every team is good at this point in the season and you know you're going to have to play your best," Eagle coach Jerry Rutherford said. "We've won the road in the playoffs. We've won at home. We've been to the regional finals.
"We're going to do what we do and give it our best shot and see how things go."
Eastwood's won five straight games since a 41-7 loss to undefeated Genoa, ranked third in Division IV.
The team is averaging 41.6 points and 368.3 yards per game, and allowing just 14.3 points and 279.1 yards per game.
The Eagles rebounded from last season when they were 5-5 overall and 5-2 in the Northern Buckeyes Conference.
Last season, Eastwood was dominated by sophomores and the experience they gained resulted in success this fall.
"We worked hard during the offseason and it's paid off," Glaze said. "The whole team lifted weights and that had never happened before. You could tell the difference once we started practicing."
The Eagles opened the season with a 40-21 win over Patrick Henry, one of the top programs in Northwest Ohio.
"The Patrick Henry game was big. That gave us a lot of confidence and we kept building on that," said Eagle senior Michael Flipse, who plays safety and wide receiver.
Coldwater is averaging 33.2 points and 327.4 yards per game out of its shotgun/spread offense.
Junior quarterback Brody Hoying (5-foot-10, 175 pounds) has rushed for 119 times for 1,011 yards, and completed 98-of-170 passes for 1,328 yards. He's run for 18 touchdowns, passed for 14 TDs and scored on an interception return.
"We've seen that formation multiple times this season, but we may not have seen a player of his caliber," Rutherford said. "He runs hard. He's one of the better players we've seen all year."
The Cavaliers are allowing just 13.7 points and 248.8 yards per game.
"For us to be successful, we're going to have to put some drives together," said Rutherford, whose team had seven TD drives of six plays or longer in last week's 47-19 win over Otsego.
Among those drives, one went 11 plays and another lasted 10 plays.
"Some nights, we bust off big plays, but against good defenses, that's hard to do, so you're going to have to drive the ball," Rutherford said. "Otsego's defense did a nice job and played us tough, but we were able to drive the ball."
Eastwood also figures to have a strong team next season. The Eagles are expected to return five starters on offense and six on defense.
"The biggest thing I want the guys to take out of this season is when you work hard, and when you do things right, you put time in the weight room, good things can happen," Rutherford said.
"If you don't do those things and you don't invest time, you won't get the chance to be rewarded. Our guys are being rewarded - to go 8-2, get a home game in the playoffs and play the defending state champion, that's pretty neat for our guys and our program."
Coldwater's head coach is former Bowling Green Falcon Chip Otten, who is in his fourth season at the school.
|Last Updated on Friday, 08 November 2013 18:19|
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