For the past two years, Lima Senior was known for its explosive offense, but this year the Spartan defense is the main force behind the team’s 2-0 start.
Coming into the season Spartan head coach Andre Griffin told defensive coordinator Randy Woods to put in a base defense, make it simple for the players “to know their assignments and fly to the ball.”
Griffin added that with the veteran leadership the simpler approach has paid off. It has showed with Lima Senior holding Middletown and Marion Harding to 17 and 19 points respectively.
In the Middletown game, the Spartans forced five turnovers and made two impressive stops deep in their own territory in the fourth quarter.
Against the Presidents last week, led by Miguel Clark’s 14 tackles, the defense held Marion Harding to six points in the last quarter that allowed the offense to generate the necessary points to win the game.
“Defensively we are flying to the ball,” Griffin said. “We are making some incredible hits out there.”
In addition to the physical play of Clark, Griffin also points to the linebacking play of D’Niyae Morris and the play of the defensive line.
“I think we are doing a really good job defensively” Griffin said. “Confidence is really high for us and we hope to keep that up.”
As for the offense, Spartan tailback Jaden Walker has been spectacular in the first two weeks, rushing for more than 200 yards in both games.
While the fleet-footed tailback has generated more than 400 yards of offense, Griffin said Walker can attribute a lot of his success to the guys blocking for him. Anchored senior by Darius Collins at left tackle, the Spartan offensive line brought four of the five starters back from last year. In addition to Collins, the Spartans have Keaton Towsey at left guard, Jordan Lutz at center, Jordan McClendon at right guard and Caleb Tyson at right tackle.
“That is where our veteran leadership comes on offense,” Griffin said. “They are doing a good job and they are still learning our system. They are doing a better job of coming together. Hopefully down the line we will open the offense a little more.”
However, even Griffin understands that soon teams will be stacking the box in order to take the run away and force the Spartans to pass in order to beat them.
“Offensively, we are coming along,” Griffin said. “Right now we are riding our senior and he is doing well but we’ve got to get him some help offensively.”
Griffin added that the Spartans are also looking for different ways to get Walker the ball instead of just handing it off to him. He also said they want to get more players involved in the offense.
Griffin is encouraged by junior quarterback Adrine Mitchell. After a shaky first game, the Spartan signal caller was an efficient 9 of 13 for 83 yards and threw for one touchdown against Marion Harding.
“He (Mitchell) had a better game last week. He has to get better in some situations such as the two minute offense. The run game is helping him out really good and if we can set up high percentage passes for him I think he will continue to grow for us as the season progresses,” Griffin said. “We still want to get more passes and more balance in the office but 9 for 13 is a pretty good start.”
Griffin said by going 2-0 the team has been reaching its goals but beginning with Springfield High School, followed by a trip to Toledo Whitmer, the Spartans ability to continue putting up wins will be even more difficult.
“Our goal is to be 1-0 at the end of the week so when you start off 2-0 I guess that is reaching your goal,” Griffin said. “Every week is a different challenge for us being a young team but so far so good. The players are doing a great job. They have the mentality of never giving up and never giving in, and we are winning some games at the end of the ball game.”
Springfield comes into the game with a 1-1 mark after opening the season with a 22-20 win over Dublin Coffman followed by a 28-21 loss to Princeton.
Griffin said garnering the first two wins has really given the Spartans confidence but added that the scrimmages are when the team started to believe in itself and that has carried over into the regular season.
Western Buckeye League
The marquee game in the WBL this week features Wapakoneta and Kenton. Wapakoneta comes in unbeaten overall in the league and coming off a 31-0 victory over Shawnee. Kenton picked up its first win of the season last week when the Wildcats defeated Defiance 35-0. It is the classic match up of the run vs. the pass.
In other games, Ottawa-Glandorf (2-0, 1-0), also unbeaten, will face Van Wert (0-2, 0-1), St. Marys (2-0, 1-0) takes on Shawnee (0-2, 0-1) Celina (1-1, 1-0) battles Bath (1-1, 0-1) and Elida (1-1, 0-1) travels to Defiance (0-2, 0-1).
The NWC still is one week away from beginning league play, however, there is still plenty of interesting match ups for the NWC schools.
Columbus Grove (2-0) has had two big showings in its first two contests, coming off a 27-13 win over Putnam County rival Leipsic. The Bulldogs will have their hands’ full for a third straight week when they take on Patrick Henry (2-0). The Patriots beat Spencerville 34-7 in the opening weekend and Wayne Trace 35-13 in week two.
Speaking of Wayne Trace (1-1), this week its NWC opponent will be Crestview (2-0). The Knights had a big win over Hicksville, 34-21, in week two.
Allen East (2-0), which had a huge offensive showing last week, a 61-20 win over Perry, will face another Northwest Central Conference opponent, Waynesfield-Goshen (0-2).
In what used to be the top NWC game for a number of years, Ada goes against Lima Central Catholic. The two meet this Saturday but not much is on the line. The T-Birds are dealing with a number of injuries. The T-Birds are coming off a stinging 35-7 loss to Delphos St. John’s while Ada lost to Arlington 20-7.
Spencerville (1-1) got its first win of the season last week when it blanked Parkway, 37-0. The Bearcats will try to build on that victory when they face Holgate (0-2). The Tigers lost to New Bremen last week 45-20.
Delphos Jefferson (1-1) suffered its first loss of the season to state powerhouse Coldwater, 20-6, in a hard fought battle. The Wildcats will try to regain their winning ways when they battle unbeaten Fairview (2-0). The Apaches have wins over Wauseon, 21-15, in week one and Paulding, 37-14, in week two.
Bluffton (1-1) endured its first loss last week to Van Buren, 26-3, but will try to regroup this week when it faces winless Fort Loramie (0-2). The Redskins lost back-to-back games to Midwest Athletic Conference members Minster, 26-20, in week one, followed by a 32-0 loss to Fort Recoevery in week two.
Paulding (0-2) will seek its first victory of the season this Friday when it plays Antwerp (1-1). After losing in week one to Perry 43-34, the Archers bounced back with a 36-28 win over Hilltop.
Northwest Central Conference
With league games still a week away, Ridgemont (2-0), the lone unbeaten team in the NWCC, will face Mount Gilead (1-1).
Perry (1-1) endured a tough 61-20 loss to Allen East and will try to find its winning ways against Montpelier (1-1). The Locomotives are coming off a 41-15 win over Evergreen.
Riverside (1-1) will battle Cedarville (1-1). The Pirates are coming off a 36-6 loss to Mechanicsburg.
Upper Scioto Valley (1-1) garnered its first win of the season when it defeated Cory-Rawson 34-13 last week. The Rams will try to build on their win when they face unbeaten Indian Lake (2-0). The Lakers have wins over Triad (49-0) and Kenton Ridge (35-3).