One of the values of interscholastic sports is the learning to stick with a project and to not back down, even when facing a seemingly insurmountable challenge.
The East Liverpool Potters gridders (0-2) find themselves in that situation tonight as they travel downriver to face Steubenville (2-0).
"Steubenville is the king of the valley," said Potter head coach Pat McNicol. "Everyone wants to dethrone them. We get our shot Friday night."
Steubenville hasn't lost a game at Harding Stadium in the 2001 playoffs to Columbus DeSales. They have won 52 regular-season games in a row, their last regular-season loss coming to the Potters in the last game of the 2002 season at Patterson Field by the score of 6-0.
Steubenville has made the playoffs 20 times since 1981.
"As a coach, you don't buy into the mystique of playing down there," said McNicol. "However, teenagers in that atmosphere might look at it differently. It's an awesome atmosphere in which to coach. That type of feeling is why many people go into coaching."
Having had time to evaluate his team's play after their 20-12 loss to Cleveland Heights last week, the Potter grid mentor said, "We're so close to winning. The guys played hard from the opening kickoff to the final whistle. That's all you can ask of a team. We're getting back to 'East Liverpool football.' We'll hit you. It showed up on the film."
Typically when coaches look at film, they realize that they didn't play as well as they thought and they also didn't play as bad as they thought. McNicol saw some bright spots in the Cleveland Heights film.
"We had a great goalline stand. We hit. I actually enjoyed the video. I felt much better after watching the video."
Right offensive tackle Matt Beatty has been slowed by an ankle injury this week. The senior standout is expected to be cleared to play. If Beatty is unable to play, sophomore Kody Edwards will step into the lineup.
Steubenville has posted wins over Indian Creek (34-0) and Akron Buchtel (42-12). They are averaging 393 yards per game in total offense. Junior Quarterback Dwight Macon has completed 19 of 27 passes for 203 yards and six touchdowns. Tailback Demetrius Brandon rushed for 148 yards including a 70-yard scoring jaunt. He has rushed for 231 yards thus far on the season.
Linebacker-fullback Branko Busick, who has already committed to West Virginia University, is leading the team in tackles for the third straight season. Buchtel rushed for just 22 yards versus Steubenville after picking up almost 300 yards versus Massillon Washington in Week One. Steubenville has forced six turnovers thus far.
Last Saturday, the Potter JV and freshmen teams journeyed to Cleveland Heights. The JV's led for more than half of their game before falling 20-12. The freshmen lost 18-0.