New chapter opens in old rivalry
LISBON — Two of the hottest teams in the area will do battle on the field this Friday to keep pace atop the Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference.
“This is going to be a fun night for the fans, its what small-town football is all about.” Columbiana coach Bob Spaite said.
Both teams are 4-0 in league play with Lisbon at 6-1 overall and Columbiana at 5-2.
Both coaches agree they have enjoyed playing in the first year of new league.
“I have enjoyed playing our schedule this year, it’s good competition for the teams,” Lisbon coach Jim Tsilimos said.
Although missing old rivalries, Spaite thinks the new league has helped his team.
“I’m very pleased with this season it has forced some kids to grow up faster and the seniors have become better leaders for the team.” Spaite said.
The Blue Devils are ranked 13th in Division VII and sit in fourth place in Region 25, while Columbiana is in fifth place in Div. VI, Region 21.
Tsilimos and Spaite have known each other a long time.
“Jim and I go back to our Mount Union days, he’s been an excellent coach over at Lisbon.” Spaite said.
Both teams know how to score, with Lisbon averaging 38.5 points in their six wins, while Columbiana is averaging 44.6 points a game in their five wins.
Columbiana has only allowed 34 points in four conference games this season.
Lisbon is coming off a 48-12 victory over Toronto where they picked up a total of 402 rushing yards led by Cam Summer who had 108 yards on 10 carries.
“Summers is one of the premier athletes in this area and their offensive line comes off the ball hard.” Spaite said. “Nobody stopped them in this conference but we’ll have our go at it this week.”
Columbiana is coming off a 47-13 win over Wellsville where the offense had 380 total yards with 171 of those coming though the air thanks to an 8-11 performance from Clipper quarterback Jakob Cross.
“One thing Columbiana does well is spread you out,” Tsilimos said, “We haven’t been able to tackle well in the open field this season, but we’ve been practicing it this week.”
Columbiana is looking to avenge a 33-13 loss at home last year.
“Everybody tries a little bit harder in big games,” Spaite said, “Tensions are higher, practices are harder, nobody wants to be the one to let up.”
Lisbon is looking to continue their winning streak by minimizing mistakes.
“There’s been three or four games where turnovers have been a problem, it cost us a game to earlier in the season.” Tsilimos said.
Lisbon’s lone loss this season came to Valley Christian 14-12.
“They are looking forward to play Columbiana this week, I’ve been in games where you look good in practice and lose, also games where you’re weary in practice but end up winning,” Tsilimos said, “Executing the game plan is crucial for us.”
Spaite thinks his team is ready for the test.
“When you get a chance to see if your motor isn’t running strong, you better check yourself.” Spaite said.
Columbiana and Lisbon do battle at 7 p.m. Friday at War Memorial Stadium.
“It’s going to be a war in the trenches,” Tsilimos said, “That will decide who wins this game on Friday.”