EAST LIVERPOOL - After a two-year hiatus, the Salem Quakers and the East Liverpool Potters will renew what was at one time, one of the longest-running rivalries in the state of Ohio. The two teams last played in 2010 with the Quakers triumphing 36-6. The Potters last win in the rivalry came in the 10th week of the 2008 season at Salem.
The Quakers will go on the road for the first time this season when they travel to East Liverpool to tangle with the Potters at Patterson Field. Salem is off to its first 2-0 start since 2010 after posting wins over Liberty (27-25) and United (27-24). The Potters are hoping to pick up their first win of the campaign after falling to Carrollton (24-6) and Indian Creek (12-6).
"Our guys are playing real well," Salem coach Ron Johnson said. "As a team, we worked very hard during the offseason and that hard work has thus far paid off."
A year ago, the Quakers struggled during a 0-10 season. That was Johnson's first year at the helm in Salem and he made good use of his time. When practice started this summer, Johnson welcomed back 33 returning letterwinners.
"A year ago, we played a lot of young guys," Johnson said. "That has given us a large number of players who saw significant playing time a year ago."
Despite being 0-2, East Liverpool coach Rick Prescott is very pleased with his team's effort in the first two games and also in practice this week.
"Our first two opponents were tough teams," Prescott said. "We're actually only about four drives away from being 2-0. We have to eliminate mistakes. Our morale is really good and the kids are working hard."
The Potters have had four drives end inside their opponents' 10-yard line without putting any points on the board.
"We have to capitalize when we have the opportunity," Prescott said. "Our mistakes have been generally caused by our players being overaggressive. As a coaching staff, we can accept those types of mistakes, as we want our players to go all out. We keep telling our guys that if they keep playing hard, eventually the ball will bounce their way."
One player Johnson is counting on once again this week is junior quarterback Trace Jenkins, who has passed for 211 yards and rushed for 101 more.
"Trace is who we give the chalk to last when we're drawing things up," Johnson said. "He is really calling a good game for us thus far. He is basically calling the offense."
Johnson pointed out that the Quakers do have "pretty good" team speed, especially when Haedan Panezott and Marcus Crittenden get their hands on the pigskin.
"Marcus finished first at the NBC (Northeastern Buckeye Conference) track meet in the 100-meter dash and Haedan was second," Johnson said. "They stretch the other team's defense when they get the ball."
Panezott had 18 carries for 116 yards against United, while Crittenden had five carries for 52 yards.
"Their quarterback is very poised in the pocket. He is not afraid to step up and put the ball in tough spots," Prescott said. "They have some very talented position players in Crittenden, Panezott and (Blake) Hochadel."
In talking about his own team, Prescott said, "Chad Reed (DE) and Jacob Michael (DT) have been very playing very solid assignment football for us up front. Our two inside linebackers; John Rickerd and John Miscuk, are our leaders and doing a nice job at setting the tone."
"They're a scary football team," Johnson said. "They've lost two close games to Carrollton and Indian Creek. They have had self-inflicted wounds. If they can eliminate those mistakes, they can really be a good football team. We're just hoping to go down there and get a win."
In preparing for the visiting Quakers, Prescott said, "Salem knocked off a very athletic Liberty team and then they beat a next-door rival in United. On defense, they use a five-man front quite a bit and force you to put the ball in the air. It should be quite a game."
Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.