FOSTORIA— Elmwood’s 6-foot, 245-pound senior Zach May knows the Royals’ offensive line does not have to provide too much of an opening for the Royals’ playmakers.
Give them a little running room, and the next thing you know they are breaking tackles, running through defenders, and cutting and zig-sagging past defenders.
“I mean, it is a huge luxury to actually block for (senior running back) Mason (Oliver) and (senior quarterback) Hayden (Wickard),” May said.
“People take Hayden for granted. He’s got a lot of speed behind him, and he is a real powerful kid,” May continued.
“Mason, we don’t even have to block that well on some plays and he makes us look good. For us it is just easy to do our job, get to our spots, and Mason will take care of the rest.”
The Royals (4-0) opened their final season in Northern Buckeye Conference play by pounding Fostoria (0-4), 68-14, at Dick Kidwell Field Friday behind 576 total yards of offense, including 344 yards passing and 232 yards passing.
Mason Oliver had 104 yards rushing on just eight carries with two TDs, sophomore Andrew Traxler had 49 yards on five carries, Micah Oliver had a 45-yard TD run, and senior Brody Reynolds had three carries for 34 yards.
Mason Oliver says he does not get that kind of yardage without the big boys in the trenches, and he lets them know it.
“I give all my credit to my linemen,” Oliver said. “They are the ones who open the holes, give me the chance to take it. There always is (running room). I give them all the credit and let them know they did a great job.”
May says he is not giving away any secrets regarding Elmwood’s blocking scheme, just that it works.
“We can’t really give (secrets) away, but we just do our job,” May said. “We do what the coaches tell us and make sure we’re taking care of what we need to do, including good double teams and stuff like that. We just do what they tell us to, and it all works out.”
Wickard and Mason Oliver both say they want to play collegiate football, and Elmwood coach Greg Bishop is confident they will get that chance.
“Hayden and Mason are scholarship players, in my mind, among others, with the athleticism and speed and athletic prowess that they have,” Bishop said.
“Being athletic and football smart, both are great players. Hayden knows how to read a defense very well. He’s a great player and a great kid.
“So is Mason Oliver. He makes things happen that are amazing sometimes, and he’s a great young man overall. Same with our receiving corps and our offensive line — they have done a great job.”
Wickard completed 14-of-20 passes for 305 yards, and his back-up, junior Pierson Parsons, was a perfect 4-for-4 for 39 yards in the win over Fostoria.
Senior receiver Mason Mossbarger caught three passes for 90 yards and a touchdown, senior Alex Arnold caught three passes for 79 yards, junior Micah Oliver caught four passes for 56 yards and two TDs.
Four other Elmwood receivers reached double digit yardage Friday night.
“My receivers are great. I just get them the ball and who knows what is going to happen?” Wickard said.
“They can always make a play no matter what. If it is a jump ball out in the open, they can make someone miss, they can cut, or anything at all.”
Seniors got the ball rolling
There is talent on the defense, too. Elmwood forced eight plays for negative yardage in the first half alone as the Royals built a 48-0 halftime lead over the Redmen.
Junior defensive back Brennan Hiser had four tackles, senior middle linebacker Adam Meyer had three tackles, two assists and a sack, and senior middle linebacker Allen Sterling intercepted a tipped pass returning it nine yards.
Meyer, Sterling, May, Wickard and Mason Oliver are members of a senior class that has dominated the Elmwood gridiron landscape since they were sophomores. This year, they feel, is their year to make a statement.
“We’re a pretty talented class, I’d say, all across the board,” Oliver said. “Obviously, we have help from some younger guys, but we’ve got a lot of guys who came back in this senior class, and everyone has played and has a lot of playing time, so I think we’ve got it.
“We’ve got a lot of athletes across the board so we can attack any angle we want to. As long as we get the ball in the right hands, we’ll be perfectly fine,” Oliver continued.
Bishop added, “This senior class, we have a lot of talent, but they are hard-working talent.
“What I mean by that is they are always in the weight room, doing things right, getting after it and encouraging other players, and taking our program to another level.”
Bishop says he does not have to overwhelm his players with coaching. He just lets his athletes do their thing.
“It’s just about keeping it simple, let our kids make plays, and not have them thinking, but just have them reacting to the ball, whether it is in their hands on offense or on defense,” Bishop said.
Preparing for the Knights Friday
Elmwood’s first three wins came over Van Buren (45-3), Edison (36-16), and Allan East (53-21).
The Royals handed Edison their first loss. The Chargers defeated Firelands and Collins Western Reserve, both by 28-7 scores, and Friday, Edison took Bellevue to the wire before falling, 24-21.
But the Chargers, always a force in the Sandusky Bay Conference, gave Bishop a chance to see what his team was really made of.
“We had some things that did not go our way in that game. We only had the ball two plays the whole third quarter, so we had some things we wanted to clean up. We felt we didn’t play our best game,” Bishop said.
“But every single week we’re just trying to get better. Every single week we’re trying to do our job and expect more of ourselves.”
Wickard was pleased to see his team pull out the win, despite the challenge brought by the Chargers.
“That was just a great team win overall,” Wickard said. “We worked hard that week making sure that we had everything in the gameplan ready, and we just had to execute, and we did.”
Next Friday, the Royals return home to take on two-time defending NBC champion Otsego. It will be Elmwood’s chance to get a leg up in the conference standings.
“Our goal is to prove that we can do it, we have the team to do it, and we’re coming to do it,” Oliver said.
One year from now, Elmwood will be competing in the Blanchard Valley Conference, but Bishop says this team’s desire for an NBC championship has nothing to do with it being the final season in the league.
“Honestly, we’re happy in the NBC. We’re here,” Bishop said. “Elmwood is back, and we’re working for it all.”