Updated: 2:20 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016 | Posted: 1:46 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016

East, Middletown looking to build some momentum in GMC matchup


East, Middletown looking to build some momentum in GMC matchup photo
Middletown quarterback Zach Maloney throws the ball as Fairfield’s Kyle Schimpf defends during their game at Fairfield Stadium last Friday. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

By Mark Schmetzer

Contributing Writer


Lance Engleka paused for a couple of beats when somebody asked him, “If you were an opposing coach scouting your team, what would you be seeing?”

“I think there are two things anybody looking at us would see,” the Middletown High School football coach said. “They would see that we’re very young on both sides of the ball — very, very inexperienced. That’s the No. 1 thing I think they’d see.

“Secondly, I think they’d see we’ve got a lot of talented playmakers. Right now, we’re kind of struggling to put everything together from an offense and defensive perspective.”

Engleka’s Lakota East counterpart, Rick Haynes, was a bit more direct when put through the same exercise.

“They’d see a team that turns the ball over way too much,” Haynes said. “We had five last week.”

Friday’s 7 p.m. Greater Miami Conference matchup between the Middies and Haynes’ Thunderhawks — on, ironically, Pee Wee Football Night at Middletown’s venerable Barnitz Stadium — involves two teams who are trying get on track after losing their way. Middletown fell to 0-4 overall and 0-1 in the GMC with a second consecutive 42-0 loss, this one at Fairfield.

East was limited to seven points for the second consecutive game in a 30-7 home loss to Oak Hills.

Friday’s game could come down to whichever team can stay out of its own way the most. The Thunderhawks have committed nine turnovers this season which forcing just one from opponents.

“You can never talk about it too much,” said Haynes, whose team has won the last three games in the series. “If you don’t have the ball, you can’t win. We keep trying to emphasize it. Obviously, if you turn it over five times, it’s hard to win.”

Middletown’s turnover picture isn’t as gloomy. The Middies have committed 12 and forced seven, but that doesn’t mean they don’t make mistakes.

“We just have to eliminate the mental mistakes that have been hindering us the past couple of weeks and go out and play the way we are coached during the week,” Engleka said. “Right now, it’s a matter of us — particularly our young guys — going out and doing what they’re coached to do and then using their talent to put us in position to win.

“What we’re going through right now is a process. Each day is a process of trying to improve from the day before — trying to get better at what we’re doing. Absolutely, there have been positives we’ve seen. We’re looking at things from the perspective of we’re trying to establish things on the field and off the field. It begins with attitude, how you go about your business and prepare.”

Haynes is hoping the Middies wait a week before their experience catches up with their talent.

“They have guys who run around and make plays, not much different than other Middletown teams,” he said. “They’re always physical.”

Even with the turnovers, Engleka remains impressed with East’s discipline.

“Coach Haynes is an outstanding coach,” Engleka said. “When you look at their team on film, you know those players are going to play exactly as they’re coached to play, and they’ve very well-coached. They’re very disciplined in their offensive and defensive schemes. That quarterback who runs the triple (option) for them is going to make the right reads and the offensive line is going to be right in their assignments every time. Defensively, you know they’re going to be gap sound. They’re a highly disciplined team.”

Engleka expects to get senior running back Marquise Perry, who averaged 8.2 yards per carry in limited action last season and has carried the ball once this season, back from a concussion he suffered in the Week 3 loss to Trotwood-Madison. Sophomore linebacker Gene Underhill also is expected to play, Engleka said.

“I think, at this point in the season, every team in the state of Ohio is banged up,” Engleka said. “We’re no different than anybody else in that regard.”

Haynes expects senior running back Tyler VanFossen to return after missing the Oak Hills game with a concussion. VanFossen could team up with senior Tyler Glenn to give the Thunderhawks an effective one-two punch in the running attack. Glenn carried the ball 12 times for 50 yards in his first action of the season last week.

“We’re happy for him,” Haynes said. “The kids are excited he’s back.”

Friday’s game

What: Lakota East (1-3, 0-1 GMC) at Middletown (0-4, 0-1 GMC), 7 p.m.

Where: Barnitz Stadium, 1211 S. Main St., Middletown

Last meeting: Lakota East won 31-0 in 2014


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