One more chance for the Beavers, Bears

Beaver Local’s Terry Adkins and Oak Glen’s Dakota Price have one last shot at victory at tonight’s rivalry contest at Oak Glen High School. (Photo by Wayne Maris)

The 2016 season has not been kind to Beaver Local and Oak Glen, at least for the most part.

Beaver struggled to find consistency, while Oak Glen was under a new era with Ted Arneault as head coach. Both have combined for five wins, and both fell to arch rival East Liverpool.

At least the Beavers and Golden Bears can end on a high note when they square off tonight in Oak Glen. There is pressure on winning the final game but none added in facing another rival.

“I don’t look at it like that. It is a rivalry game, and I know our kids will be excited about that,” Beaver head coach Jeremy McElroy said. “We just have to focus on ourselves more than we do with the other team.”

“We do see Beaver Local as our rival, and it is our senior night. We want to win,” Arneault said. “There’s pressure in that regard because we want to send our seniors off on a high note. That’s definitely our goal for (today). We just need to go out, have fun and execute.”

The Beavers come off a 47-0 loss at Martins Ferry. Three problems caused the defeat: battle at the line of scrimmage, turnovers and the absence of Michael Clendenning.

Beaver’s two-way star sat with a concussion. He is expected to play today and practiced all week.

“Any time you lose a two-way starter it affects you; no doubt about it,” McElroy said. “We had to shuffle some people around. I’m sure that had a big impact, but it still comes down to blocking and tackling.”

Even with Clendenning back, the Golden Bears are still wary of Garrett Givens, Torey Calio and quarterback Logan Bouscher running all over the field. Oak Glen will need help from its two leading tacklers in Lance Collins and Logan Kranis to be successful.

“The problem with defending their offense is their ability to run with their running backs and quarterback,” Arneault said. “It’s one of those things where we’re going to have to get into the gaps and not worry so much about assignments. We also have to react to what their line does rather than their running backs.”

Another factor that may play to Oak Glen’s advantage is playing on turf. The Beavers fell to Martins Ferry on a turf surface. McElroy is confident that won’t be the case.

“I don’t think it really changes a whole lot,” he said. “The ball maybe bounces a little bit faster. Other than that I think the quality of turf is almost like playing on grass. We’ve scrimmaged on South Range’s turf before, and it felt like you were walking on grass. We haven’t really noticed an impact.”

Oak Glen is coming off a 17-6 win over Buckeye Local, but everybody beats the winless bunch. Beaver crushed Buckeye a few weeks ago. That does not take anything away from the Golden Bears because a win is a win, and those were hard to come by with a shaky season.

“It’s been tough in the aspect that there’s been adversity through the style of my coaching,” Arneault said. “I think it’s one of those things where we had to feel each other out. Everybody had to develop a relationship with one another. I do think we’ve built a lot of good memories this year. Our younger players got valuable playing time. We had quite a few sophomores step up, and we had some seniors that had very good years.”

Arneault added that he hopes his team will use that as fuel by the time next season rolls around. Oak Glen must eliminated outside distractions and focus on what it does on the field.

“That was the biggest thing that came out of this year. It’s one of those things where I came in the year late,” he said. “We didn’t establish the strength and conditioning program until June. There was some adversity in August and September in dealing with the new coaching style. That’s something that improved during the course of the year, and I think we’ll have more of an advantage going into next year because the kids will know what to expect.”

As for the Beavers, it has been another up and down year. A victory tonight will give them four victories and momentum headed into next year.

Their defense needs to step up and not allow a big half like they’ve done at times. Their 16-15 defeat to Indian Creek is evidence of that. They know what to do against Oak Glen; it’s just a matter of doing so.

“They have a quarterback who has now played three years against us. They have experience there and a couple of wide receivers who played against us the last few years,” McElroy said. “They have good size up front, so they have a lot to offer offensively. We have to be ready for the variations and blocking on defense.”