NEW MANCHESTER - Things are a little different in the Oak Glen football camp than they were a couple of weeks ago. The Golden Bears are preparing this week for the aerial invasion of Steubenville Catholic Central and also looking forward to the annual homecoming celebration at the new football field on the Oak Glen campus. Game time Friday is 7 p.m.
"Our goal is to come out of the first half with a winning record," Central head coach Steve Daley said. "Both teams are 2-2 and one team fortunately is going to and unfortunately, someone is not. That's our focus right now and what our preparation needs to be this week."
First-year Oak Glen head coach Ian Whittington admits his Golden Bears (2-2), smarting from its second straight loss, will have its hands full containing the vaunted Crusader passing attack.
Central quarterback, Brenton Colabella, already has thrown for more than 1,000 yards in just four games, two wins and two losses. As a sophomore last year, Colabella passed for 1,941 yards and 18 touchdowns.
He already has 14 touchdown passes this season and leads the Ohio Valley quarterbacks with 1,168 yards completing 69 of 110 passes.
"They are a skilled football team and bring a heck of an aerial show," Whittington said. "They get a lot of yardage and score a lot of points.
"Colabella is the real deal. He's the best quarterback in the valley. I remember he passed for over 300 yards and three or four touchdowns against us last year, but we managed to win the game. I recall that we sacked him 11 or 12 times last year, which is an Oak Glen defensive record. We'll have to do that again this year if we expect to win."
The two Central losses have come by a total of five points. Daley's gridders whipped Toronto 49-7 in Week 4.
"We put some things together on both sides of the ball, but there are still some things we need to fix," Daley added. "We made some mistakes early on but once we got settled down and in a groove, we were OK. We threw the ball well, ran it decently and our defense played solid."
The Crusaders rolled to 508 yards (150 on the ground and 358 through the air) of offense in the victory. Colabella had another outstanding night, throwing for 346 (he was 17 of 25) and three touchdowns. Senior running back Doug Maslowski accounted for 72 stripes on 11 trips and scored twice.
"I thought our offensive lines played well in spots," Daley noted. "There are still things we need to correct in our pass protection. That is an ongoing thing. When you move from week to week, teams aren't always going to show the same stunts. There's always an adjustment period where you see what teams are doing. Once we made adjustments, our protection was pretty good."
As you would expect, Central also brings with it a stable of capable receivers. Senior Zach Herrington leads the area in receiving with 19 catches for 388 yards and five touchdowns. Senior Michel Carapellotti has caught 14 of Colabella's passes for 147 yards and two scores, Kyle Laukert also has 14 catches and Junior Ryan Fletcher has 12.
Whittington said the coaching staff is working hard to not let the Oak Glen homecoming be a distraction. He said the players need to find a balance in enjoying the festivities, but keep football and the job at hand on the field uppermost until the game is over.
"Besides Central, we have a lot to be concerned about," he continued. "We won those first two games, but we have two straight losses. We've had our real world check. Now we'll see what we're made of in this game."
Whittington said his keys to victory are to control the time of possession to keep the Crusader high-powered offense off the field.
"They seem to have the philosophy that their defense bends but doesn't break," Whittington said of the Crusaders. " They try to outscore opponents. Their defense has given up a lot of points. We are hoping to go after them and take advantage of that."
On the other hand, Whittington said his defense needs to have the same type of philosophy of bend, but not break.
"Colabella is going to get his yards and throw for touchdowns, we have to try to limit his big plays and keep their offense off of the field," Whittington concluded.
He said senior fullback, Zack Staley, went out of the 49-6 loss at John Marshall last week with a shoulder injury. He said Staley is a big part of Oak Glen's power running game which takes a lot of pressure off of first-year quarterback Bub Haddox, who is the Golden Bear leading rusher with 368 yards. He said Staley's availability may be a game day decision.
"They have good size at running back and Haddox, their quarterback, is just an athlete," said Daley. "We have to contain him and not let him get outside. When he does, he makes big things happen."