One of Edgewood High School football coach Scott Clemmons’ biggest concerns going into Friday’s Southwest Ohio Conference game against Little Miami might be whether his Cougars can even find their home field.
The 7 p.m. contest will be Edgewood’s first at home since Sept. 16. The Cougars have played four straight road games, including last week’s 58-6 walloping of Talawanda.
“We’ve been gone for a month,” said Clemmons, whose team is 6-2 overall and 4-0 in the SWOC. “It’s going to be Youth Night. I think the community will be excited to see us back home. I know the kids will be excited to be back home.”
The visiting Panthers (3-5, 1-4) also give Clemmons many concerns. Little Miami, which is coming off a 42-7 win over Ross that snapped a four-game losing streak, boasts a solid defense led by senior Tony Agricola and junior David Tosh on the line.
Agricola leads the SWOC with 6 1/2 sacks, while Tosh is tied for second with 5 1/2. Evan Brown and Quinn Jones also rank in the top with five each for EHS.
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The Panthers’ Ryan Sellars leads the conference with three fumble recoveries, while teammates Grant Frith and Cordell Oeder are tied for second with two each.
“They play a 4-3 defense with man over the top of it,” Clemmons said. “Their two down linemen are pretty gritty. They get off the ball well and run it down. If you don’t block them, they’re relentless.
“If you go back and look over the past couple of years, they’ve played every team tough. They have a very gritty team over there.”
The Panthers, under first-year coach Nate Mahon, held co-league leader Mount Healthy to a season-low 17 points in the undefeated Owls’ closest game of the season, a three-point win on Sept. 16, but they face a challenge in Edgewood’s Wing-T offense.
The Cougars lead the SWOC with averages of 418.6 yards of total offense, 296.3 yards of rushing offense, and 40.8 points per game.
“We cashed in all of our breaks against Ross,” said Mahon, whose team has just one SWOC loss by more than one score. “We’re probably three plays away from being 5-3 or maybe 6-2. This is the first Little Miami team since 2010 to win three or more games, so we’re trending in the right direction. Are we satisfied? No, but we have the kids going in the right direction. We’ve been playing with the same kids for the last couple of years.
“We’ve been able to find ways to move the football. Our mantra is to play hard and see what the scoreboard looks like at the end of the game.”
Little Miami sophomore Lucas Patten leads in individual rushing with 1,276 yards.
Mahon has respect for Cougars’ senior quarterback Drew Reckart, who ranks third in the SWOC with 957 passing yards. Senior running back Devon Garrett leads Edgewood’s balanced rushing attack and ranks second in the conference behind Patten with 485 rushing yards, while sophomore Julius Hayden is fifth with 436.
Senior defensive lineman Greg Dingledine sparks the Cougars’ defense with 5 1/2 sacks. Edgewood is yielding an average of just 38 rushing yards per game.
“Edgewood runs their Wing-T offense very efficiently,” Mahon said. “I’ve always been impressed with Reckart. He’s a gutsy football player, and he’s fun to watch. He’s probably the kind of coachable kid you’d want to have run your offense.”
Little Miami currently stands 18th in the Division II, Region 8 Harbin computer ratings, while Edgewood fills the final postseason qualifying slot at No. 8.
“We told the kids this is our playoff game,” Mahon said. “Next week against (Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy) is our playoff game.”
Besides needing a win to stay in the hunt for a postseason berth, Edgewood probably needs to win to keep up with the Owls, who play at Harrison on Friday, in the SWOC.
Mount Healthy has won every one of the first four conference championships outright, and the teams could be tied for first place going into their regular-season finale Oct. 28 at Edgewood.
Clemmons is confident his Cougars aren’t looking past Little Miami.
“It’s one of those things,” he said. “It’s about taking care of what we need to take care of.”
What: Little Miami (3-5, 1-4 SWOC) at Edgewood (6-2, 4-0 SWOC), 7 p.m.
Where: Kumler Field, 5005 Ohio 73, Trenton
Last meeting: Edgewood won 35-14 in 2015