The Green Bobcats and the East Tartans have both been enjoying success on the gridiron this season. While both programs have different agendas, the results have been similar.
Green (2-1) has won as many games this year as the Bobcats did in the past two seasons. With head coach Ted Newsome entering his third season, his efforts to turn the Green program around is starting to payoff.
“It’s the third year of our program,” Newsome said. “I think we are getting better at playing the game of football. We’re getting better in our fundamentals and up front we’re getting better all the time. We’re becoming better football players and we have some kids that are more athletic in our program this year. We’ve got a little more speed than we’re used to having.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum is East (3-0), who is ranked 18th in the Associated Press Division VII poll and is looking for it’s first playoff victory in school history.
“We take it game by game,” Tartans head coach James Gifford said. “We don’t look ahead. Of course, we set personal goals. We want to win the conference, some people say that’s looking ahead. We want to win a playoff game, that’s looking ahead. But we’re a very focused team and we know the team trying to stop us right now from winning the conference is Green.
“We also try to improve as a team. If we go out and beat Green, but we still make the same mistakes we made last week, then we didn’t really improve as a team.”
While Gifford admitted Green wasn’t one of the tougher opponents in years past, he fully expects this contest to be physical and competitive.
“They are playing with energy this year,” Gifford said. “They really feel good about themselves, scoring the points they’ve scored. This isn’t the Green of the last three or four seasons that, because of circumstances, has been one of the easier wins. This year, we’re going to have to come and we’re going to have to be ready to play.”
Gifford’s main concern is Green’s offense, which features the option attack.
“They do a lot of nice things. They’re hard to defend” Gifford said. “They run the option pretty well now. Anytime they can create natural seams and run the option, it’s hard to defend because it’s not something you practice against every week.”
For the Bobcats, who are looking to earn that program defining win, Newsome knows the challenge is anything but easy.
“If we could pull this off, it would be a huge effort,” Newsome said. “It would be an upset. I’m sure we are the underdog and rightfully so. But our program is moving forward, we’re getting better. Our competitiveness is getting better. By competitiveness, I mean are we going out there and competing as hard as we can. Are we competing every play? If we can get to that point, then the wins and losses will take care of themselves. That’s our goal this year.”
Newsome realizes the first challenge is the Tartan offense, which has been dynamic, but his main priority is the East defense.
“Everybody knows about East’s talent on offense. That’s pretty well documented,” Newsome said. “They have a lot of athletic kids but what concerns me more is their defense. They have one of the best defenses I’ve seen in our league in a long time. They are impressive and they are good at getting to the football. They have as good a defensive line as I’ve seen since I’ve been in the league. They’re a very disruptive front four. They’re a lot more concerning to me than anything else.
They’re just a good football team. They’re an elite football team.”
As far as the keys to the game, East is concerned with playing penalty-free football, limiting turnovers and playing fast on defense. Subsequently, Green wants to create turnovers, limit the explosive plays on defense and run the ball to control the clock.
The Tartans and Bobcats kickoff Friday evening at Green High School in Franklin Furnace, Ohio. Game time is set to start at 7 p.m.
Reach Chris Slone at 740-353-3101, ext 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.