BELLVILLE — The Clear Fork Colts football team knew what they had to do in order to beat Jonathan Alder on Friday night. Stop the run.
And that’s exactly what they did, holding the Pioneers;’ premier running back, Jamie Dye, to 15 yards on nine carries. As a team, the Pioneers gained just 13 total yards rushing on 23 carries.
“We’re really excited about our defense, the way we played against a pretty good running back and a quarterback, that was really good,” said Clear Fork coach Mike Carroll. “We did a tremendous job of stuffing the run against a team that runs the ball very well.”
The Colts moved to 3-0 following a 28-14 victory over the Pioneers and they are starting to be noticed around the state.
The Colt’s 3-0 record and wins over quality opponents is gaining notice around the state.
“The coaches were working on Saturday morning,” Carroll said, “We gave the kids a day off, and one of the kids calls us and says: ‘Coach, did you see we’re ranked No. 11 in the state.?’
“‘We said: ;No. 1? There’s no state ranking out yet, you must be looking at the computer rankings.’”
“The kids aren’t used to this. I told him, hey, we’re No. 1 in the region because we beat three teams that have won games and it’s all done mathematically. It doesn’t mean anything until Week 10.”
“I thought we would probably be ranked somewhere in the AP Poll because we beat Bellevue and Jonathan Alder, who are traditionally good teams,” Carroll added. “That’s great to talk about, . It’s fun and people are excited, your names are in the paper all over the state. At this point it doesn’t mean squat. If I’m not mistaken, Ohio State was ranked No. 2 and Oklahoma didn’t care.
“It’s cool, but it doesn’t matter until the end. Let’s not get all giddy about it. Just recognize that we’ve done some good things so far.”
Especially on defense vs. Jonathan Alder.
The Colts’ defense forced the Pioneers to throw the football 45 times, something they weren’t comfortable doing. Preston Eisnaugle completed 24 of those passes for 214 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Clear Fork took a 14-0 lead on touchdown runs from Jared Schaefer (25-yards) and Blake Dinsmore (28-yards). The duo combined for 124 yards rushing and three touchdowns. They also passed for 123 yards and another touchdown.
Trevon Trammell had eight carries for 76 yards on the day. He also caught two passes for 85 yards and one touchdown, a 49-yard pass from Dinsmore.
Control of the ground game has been the key to Clear Fork’s early season success.
The Colts defense is holding opponents to 62.3 yards rushing per game, only 2 yards per carry. Offensively the Colts average 5.27 yards per carry or 237 yards per game.
“It starts this year with those guys up front,” Carroll said. “Nose tackle Hunter Tollison is 6’-foot-2 and 275 pounds. Our defensive ends Daniel Spencer and Michael Chillemi go about 210 and 240 pounds. That’s a luxury that we haven’t had in the past few years. In the past our guys up front were relatively small. When you can stick a 275-pound nose guard in there who’s pretty athletic and quick, it makes all the difference in the world.”
The Clear Fork linebackers also are are playing well.
“Jacob Bailey, a four-year starter, is a big bull out there in the middle. Trevon Trammell and Bobby Costello — our outside linebackers — are really hard to run against. They help on the off -tackle and they help us in the passing game too,” Carroll said.
The offensive line play is also a big positive.
“The guys up front are playing really well and we’re proud of them,” Carroll said. “They just got to keep getting better. Paul Francisco stands out at right tackle. He’s doing a great job and can move for big man. He’s 6-foot-5 and 250 and can run. Alder was playing an even front so we’re able to pull him on our sweeps and he was getting out there leading the way.
“Tanner Winand t center is also doing a good job. The two guys I was really proud of are actually skill guys, but we lined them up as tight ends against Alder … Matt Thran and Sloan Bowman. They’re usually slots, wing-backs or wide outs. They’re both really strong tough kids. Playing them at tight end lets us stay in an empty formation and still give them five receivers to defend. Also, those two guys in there tight gives the defense an extra gap to defend, while it gives us an extra blocker on the edge on sweeps.”
This week, Clear Fork travels to North Union to open Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference play.
“North Union is a Wing-T team,” Carroll said. “They’re big. They have a 285-pound offensive tackle, he’s also their nose guard. Both their defensive ends are 6-4. One is 260 pounds and the other 210 pounds … tall lanky kids. We’re going to have to play well up front. The good news is we’ve been playing well up front defensively, which bodes well against the team that wants to run the ball.”
The Colts have been able do adapt to their opponents in their three wins.
“We told our kids on defense that we have to really adapt to the multiple fronts and follow our rules,” Carroll said. “Their strong point is running the football. It’s a run-first offense, with play-action pass off of it. It’s misdirection everywhere. A lot of motion and different formations. We have to recognize formation and get lined up correctly. We have to read our keys. We come off the ball shed blocks and tackle. I think we’ll be okay.”
It will be a battle of the lines again this week.
“We’ve got to find a way to block their defensive front,” Carroll said of North Union’s defense. ” They’re very multiple … period. They start out with a 3-3 stack with a rover in the middle and four defensive backs. From there they can show a four-man, five-man or six-man front.”
North Union is not a throwing team. The last two weeks they attempted five passes and completed one, in lopsided wins.