Edgewood’s Elijah Williams breaks free from a tackle attempt by Harrison’s Blake Cox during their game Sept. 21 at Bill Kuntz Field at Harrison. Edgewood won 42-35. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Prep football: Talawanda hoping to extend Edgewood’s rare losing streak

It’s been a long time since the Edgewood High School football team has needed to bounce back from a two-game losing streak.

The Talawanda Braves are hoping they are catching the Cougars at the right time.

Two-time defending Southwest Ohio Conference champion Edgewood (5-2, 2-1 SWOC) travels to Talawanda (2-5, 0-3 SWOC) on Friday coming off back-to-back losses to Ross in Week 6 and nonconference foe Winton Woods last week.

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The last time the Cougars lost two in a row was the very end of the 2015 season, so none of the current players have ever experienced an effort to rebound from even the shortest of skids.

“Their loss against Ross was one that caught you by surprise, but Ross played really well and Edgewood probably would agree they didn’t play very well. And then Winton Woods is a perennial power in the area, so that was tough,” Talawanda coach J.D. Vonderheide said.

“It’s a good time to catch them. They have not had a lot of adversity over the years and every team deals with it differently. I’m sure they won’t be overlooking us. I’m sure they will be prepared. They’ve maybe lost a little of their swagger, but maybe they’re even more motivated now because they are still in contention for the league and playoffs. They have a lot to play for, as do we.”

Edgewood is one of four teams owning just one loss in conference play with three games left in the regular season.

Coach Scott Clemmons said his players have maintained a good attitude and went right back to work after the Winton Woods loss to figure out what they needed to fix before beginning to prepare for Talawanda.

Friday is a chance to show what kind of team Edgewood really is.

“Guys have to step up,” Clemmons said. “The things we want to accomplish are still in front of us. We still have three league teams coming at us, and everyone is fighting for that league championship. No one is going to give us anything. We have to fight and scrap and get after it for four quarters of football.”

Talawanda is looking to end a four-game losing streak, but already has more wins than 2017 when the Braves went 1-9. A win over Edgewood could be a springboard to a strong finish. The last time they won more than two games was 2014 (7-4).

Vonderheide said Ross gave others in the league hope they too could solve the Cougars’ potent Wing-T offense, as the Rams were able to limit the running game that normally features at least one 100-yard rusher in Elijah Williams or Wade Phillips. Williams managed just 65 yards and Phillips had 18. They lead the league with 810 and 895 yards rushing, respectively.

“It showed Edgewood can be beat,” Vonderheide said. “They were starting to get that aura that they couldn’t get beat. Ross gave everyone a blueprint of if we can defend them like this, we can slow down their offense.

“Their offense and defense can be very machinelike. There is nothing they do that will surprise you, but they do it so efficiently it’s hard to defend on either side of the ball. You have to be so efficient against them to have success against them. I think that’s where we have struggled against them because it wears on you.”

Talawanda has battled injuries this season, including losing junior quarterback Adam Crank in Week 1. Tyler Teeters has stepped in and ranks third in the SWOC with 896 passing yards.

Clemmons said the Braves’ ability to put up 28 points in the fourth quarter against Harrison shows his Cougars can’t get comfortable at any point. They’ll need to limit Talawanda’s offensive possessions.

“Offensively they run a lot of different formations, move a lot of different guys around,” Clemmons said. “If everyone is not on the same page with guys coming and going in their motions, you can get in trouble because they can throw different places. There are a lot of things to prepare for. You can get in a bind if everyone is not doing what they are supposed to be doing, so we just have to get back to assignment football and do what we’re supposed to.”

Friday’s game

What: Edgewood (5-2, 2-1 SWOC) at Talawanda (2-5, 0-3 SWOC), 7 p.m.

Where: Talawanda Field, 5301 University Park Dr., Oxford

Series: Edgewood leads 29-19 and has won the last three meetings, including 55-17 last year

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