EAST LIVERPOOL - For East Liverpool, Patterson Field truly is home sweet home.
Everywhere else, however, the hosts aren't nearly as welcome.
The Potters (0-2) are currently mired in a six-game road losing streak that stretches back to 2011. Their last away win came on October 28, 2011, in a 40-0 rout at Weirton. Ironically, that was the only win for the Potters that season. Out of their last 11 road games, the 2011 Weirton game is the lone victory for the Potters.
"We try to treat every game as if it was the same," East Liverpool coach Rick Prescott said. "Obviously there's something to be said about the fact that we've lost 10 of 11 on the road though."
Playing away from the friendly confines of Patterson Field has become a challenge for the Potters under Prescott, something he is not unaware of. Preparing for success on the road was an object of concern for Prescott's offseason plans.
"We opened up with one of our first scrimmages on the road to help us prep for it," Prescott said. "We have to find an answer for that. We've got to be able to play on the road."
East Liverpool got a chance to solve its road woes when it visited Carrollton in their opener on Aug. 30. The Potters, however, fell 24-6. With 17 seniors, Prescott looks to his senior leadership to help break this trend.
"You know that when you go somewhere else that everyone's going to be rooting against you," East Liverpool senior running back John Rickerd said. "We have to learn to play to our abilities when we're away just like we do when we're at home."
Since their 2010 season, the Potters are 9-9 at Patterson Field, including a 29-3 playoff loss to Licking Valley in 2010. In that same span, East Liverpool is just 3-11 away from home. Last year, the Potters scored an average of 36.2 points in their five home games, while they scored just 16 points a game on the road.
"There's some games where we've played tough on the road," Prescott said. "There's some games where we didn't come to play at all on the road. We're working on those things every week and trying to put our focus on the game rather than where it's played."
East Liverpool won't have to a chance to snap its road losing streak until Oct. 4 when the Potters visit Wheeling Park. The Potters have the luxury of hosting their next three games, including an undefeated Salem squad on Friday. Even then, Patterson Field is not the ultimate trump card for the Potters, as Indian Creek showed in their 12-6 comeback win in East Liverpool last week.
"We have to be able to capitalize when we're given the opportunity," Prescott said. "A lot of it has to do with just being comfortable. They get excited to play in front of their community. I think they really take it to heart when they're in front of those same people."
The East Liverpool community has certainly attempted to make the Potters as comfortable as they can. Recent renovations to Patterson Field were completed prior to the season, including a new locker room that overlooks the field rather than being tucked beneath the home bleachers. The $1.5 million project doesn't solve East Liverpool's road woes, but it does give confidence to a team that has come to rely on home-field advantage for wins.
"Now we're coming down the hill when we walk out of the locker room," East Liverpool senior wide receiver Zack English said. "They come up to us and shake our hands when we come by."
"It's a great feeling," Rickerd said. "The whole town's there to see you. They're all there supporting you."
The Potters haven't had the greatest start to their season, opening with a pair of losses. No team can rely solely on home wins and expect to make the playoffs, especially when they're trying to catch up to other teams. For East Liverpool to make noise in November, an away win must eventually come, something that Rickerd expects before he plays his final game.
"I want to win these last eight games," Rickerd said. "Wheeling Park's going to be tough and we'll have to play them on the road. Playoffs are our main goal. Now we want to finish the season at 8-2."