Fliers make statement ahead of playoffs

Most teams enter the high school football playoffs with plenty of momentum.
Mark Hazelwood
Nov 7, 2013
But state-ranked Clyde will enter the Division III playoffs coming off a statement win when the Fliers (9-1) host Medina Buckeye (6-4) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in a region 8 quarterfinal.

In the regular season finale at Huron last Friday, in a game that had a home playoff game at stake for both teams, the Flier defense held the Tigers to just 92 yards of total offense, including minus-6 yards in the first half.

Huron (7-3) — a Division V playoff qualifier — managed eight first downs on the night. Tiger quarterback Cody Thompson, who came into the game with 2,368 all-purpose yards, was held in check. He finished with just 22 yards on 20 carries, and went 10-of-18 for 65 yards through the air.

“Playing in a playoff-type game in Week 10, there is nothing else that can get you prepared for the playoffs than something like that,” Clyde coach Ryan Carter said. “Our defense played lights out. Our focus all week was pursuit of the ball and keeping him (Thompson) boxed in and making open field tackles.

“The kids simply executed it exactly the way it was drawn up. Coach (Ray) Long had very good defensive game plan and was able to limit what they could do offensively, which in turn allowed us to move the ball pretty consistently the first couple drives of the game.”

Conversely, the defensive effort allowed the Fliers to establish an early identity on the ground, going 85 yards in 19 plays over 7:36 of the first quarter to get an early lead on the Tigers. Clyde went 89 yards in 14 plays on its next drive in to establish control.

“We had 17 running plays on that drive and were able to convert on a few third and shorts and a fourth and short to keep the drive going,” Carter said. “Contrary to what we had been doing all year with the big plays, we were really able to sustain some drives. It kept their offense off the field, and it also allowed for our defense to be able to do what they did.
We really came after it up front, and our kids really responded.”

There was more motivation than usual for the Fliers to earn home playoff game No. 5 in a nine-year span since 2005.

“We really wanted to host a home game and our kids bought into that thinking,” Carter said. “The seniors wanted one more home game because we only had four this season with the way the schedule was set up. We had to win at Huron to get it, and we were able to do that against a really solid team.”

On Friday, Buckeye will be led by running back Cody Fortney, who has rushed the ball 184 times for 1,207 yards and 10 TDs. The Bucks don’t throw the ball much, but when they do,
QB Christian Petek is 45-of-83 passing (54 percent) for 591 yards and 4 TDs. He’s added 364 yards and 4 TDs on the ground.

Buckeye is making its fifth playoff appearance, all since 2002. The Bucks
are yet to win a game in four previous tries, including in 2002 when they lost to an area team, Willard, by a 42-21 score.

“They have a very good running back who sets the tone for them, but they are more of a shotgun, spread-type team,” Carter said of Buckeye. “They do have some good athletes, but are not overly big. I think we match up with them pretty well size-wise.”

Another interesting aspect for Carter and the Fliers last weekend was the start of daylight savings time, which means winter is on its way. Which also means so is basketball season, as Friday was the official first day of practice statewide for boys basketball.

Also the head basketball coach in his first year also doing football, Carter said it is making for some interesting days thus far.

On Monday, Carter was at football practice from 3-6 p.m. and shifted over to the gym for basketball practice from 7-9 p.m. That will be the normal schedule most nights as long as the football team continues to play.

“It makes for some long days, and I’m not sitting here saying it’s easy, but I told the football guys it’s football season,” Carter said. “And I told the basketball guys for two hours, you have my undivided attention. My staff is really stepping up for me with preseason paperwork, bus schedules, things like that.

“It’s just been doubling up practices. Understanding it’s preseason, we don’t even have everyone because of football kids. I’m not pretending its not hard, but we’ll make it work. Every other year I’m chomping at the bit to get my kids in the gym, wondering when am I going to get them and if we are moving any games around because of the football playoffs … this year I was told I got no one to blame but myself.”

 

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John Harville

Ryan Carter was a senior on the 1995 Fliers championship team and junior on the '94 runnerup squad and played as a sophomore on the '93 undefeated Fliers team.