Indians not trembling for Trimble
SALINEVILLE–For most teams, a perfect 10-0 regular season usually brings the prize of an additional home game.
For the 2019 Southern football team, their reward is a three-hour trip to Southeastern Ohio to take on 2018 Div. VII state runner-up Glouster Trimble.
Good luck finding anyone on the team complaining about the trip, though.
After waiting nearly a year for another crack at a playoff victory, the Indians are fired up to play no matter where they are sent.
“We’ve been waiting for this, it doesn’t matter where the game is played,” Southern coach Rich Wright said. “Sure, we’d rather be at home, but Trimble earned the right to host us. We’ll arrive there at 5 p.m. ready to play just like we do at home. The location doesn’t matter at all.”
The Indians and the third-ranked Tomcats (10-0) will collide at Trimble High School at 7 p.m. Friday. One week after completing the first unbeaten regular season in school history, the Indians are now gunning for the school’s first playoff win.
“I’m fired up to go down there,” Southern senior lineman Tommy Redman said. “To face a team with the team with the tradition they have is really exciting. We’re looking to make a statement that we belong.”
“I think the trip is going to give us extra desire,” Southern senior lineman Jacob Spencer said. “We’ve been working for this the whole season. We want to show everyone how we play football.”
The Indians will depart for Glouster just after noon on Friday on a charter bus. Wright said they plan to stop in Cambridge around 2 p.m. for a team meal before arriving at the stadium just before 5 p.m.
“There might be some fatigue (due to the trip) but I’m not too worried about it,” Spencer said. “I’m going to spend the time listening to my music and getting hyped up to do my job. I think we’ll all get off the bus ready to play.”
“It’s going to be a good test to see if we can sit on the bus all that time and still have the right mindset,” Southern senior lineman Stephen Craig said. “If we prepare the right way this week, we should be fine.”
Wright made the drive to Glouster himself on Monday to have a look around and said the community reminded him a lot of Southern.
“I met with their athletic director and one of their boosters,” Wright said. “It was a nice, prideful little town, it looked a lot like Salineville. It looked like their community has embraced their team just like ours has. It should be good, small-town Ohio football on Friday.”
After three Div. VII regional championships and two state runner-up finishes since 2013, Trimble has moved up to Div. VI this season. Similar to the Indians, the Tomcats have encountered virtually no resistance all season, outscoring their opponents 448-6 in nine official games.
Trimble has nine seniors that contributed to their run to the state title game. The defense is anchored by 6-0, 225-pound senior linebacker Sawyer Koons (91 tackles, 12 for a loss and four sacks), who was the Div. VII Defensive Player of the Year last season.
On offense, the Tomcats operate a run-heavy wishbone attack, but are capable of spreading things out if needed. Senior running back Conner Wright ran for 1,503 yards and 29 touchdowns. Senior quarterback Cameron Kittle is a three-year starter and completed 38-of-54 passes for 855 yards, 11 touchdowns and one interception to go with 748 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. The offensive line features five seniors.
“They pride themselves on being physical and we’re going to have to try and match that,” Wright said. “I would say we are probably bigger and we’re going to have to try and take advantage of that.”
Toughness and physicality are two things the Indians focused on in the offseason after getting steamrolled in the second half of last season’s 52-16 first round playoff loss to Norwayne. They believe they are better equipped to meet the week 11 challenge this time around.
“Our line is a lot stronger, all we did in the offseason was lift and lift and lift,” Redman said. “I think we feel a lot more confident.”
“Last year we thought it was something special just to get to the playoffs,” Craig said. “This year our mindset is that we want to go as far as possible. I think we’re a lot closer as a team and better prepared to handle adversity.”
While Trimble is almost certainly the best opponent Southern has played all season, the same could probably be said the other way too.
The Indians are averaging 45.8 points per game and have had their starters out of the game by halftime for the last five weeks.
“We can score, and they fly to the football very well on defense, so something is going to have to give,” Wright said. “That part of the game is going to be interesting. We have nine seniors back on both sides of the ball. There is no reason for us not to feel prepared.”
“They are a tough physical team, but so are we,” Craig said. “They are very comparable to us. We’re just going to have to line up and play our game.”
¯The Indians aren’t worried about the long trip dampening their turnout.
“Our people will come,” Wright said. “They seat about 600-700 on their visitors side and I’m sure we’ll fill that.”
“The support from the fans this year has been fantastic,” Spencer said. “We feel everybody’s love and appreciate it.”
¯The Indians are practicing on East Liverpool’s Patterson Field today to get used to Trimble’s grass surface.
“They were gracious enough to let us practice there,” Wright said. “It looked like it was in great shape when I drove past it.”
¯The combined record of Southern’s opponents was 39-61 compared to 50-48 for Trimble. Drew Pasteur’s Fantastic 50 website had Southern’s schedule ranked 90th out of 105 teams in Div. VI and Trimble’s 99th.