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 8-29-2020     The Colt Corral

Week 1 Football

LUCAS vs CLEAR FORK   

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Lucas claims first-ever football win against Clear Fork, 18-15

By Carl Hunnel of Richland Source

Click the link to see Carl's article: https://www.richlandsource.com/sports/lucas-claims-first-ever-football-win-against-clear-fork-18-15/article_264ec1ae-e9b3-11ea-b48d-23d3aaed0f91.html

BELLVILLE -- Aiden Culler wasn't even born the last time Lucas played Clear Fork in football. Neither were any of the other current Cubs, since the most recent meeting came in 1992.

But the 5-11, 150-pound freshman nailed a 24-yard, fourth-quarter field goal Friday night to hand Lucas its first ever win in football over the Colts, 18-15, ending a 10-game losing streak to their valley hosts.

The game was halted after the first quarter due to lightning, a suspension that lasted almost two hours before play resumed.

"He's a great kid, a 4.0 student with a great family. He has been a travel soccer player. Obviously, we don't have soccer at Lucas, but we convinced him to come out (for football)," Lucas coach Scott Spitler said.

"He plays, quarterback, plays outside linebacker, just a tough kid. He had a little jitters early, but it doesn't get bigger than that, a winning field goal right there to cap off what the defense did for us tonight."

"He does everything right. And it doesn't surprise me that it wasn't too big a moment for him," said Spitler, whose team played in the state's Division VII state title game a year ago.

NEW START: The Cubs return six offensive and six defensive starters from a year ago for Spitler, in his 11th season. Lucas has six straight playoff appearances in the smallest-school division.

When the OHSAA announced a shortened , six-game season in 2020 due to COVID-19, the independent Cubs were suddenly looking for games. Clear Fork and the rest of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference stepped up to fill the void, meaning Lucas will play all Division IV and V teams before all schools qualify for the postseason.

Clear Fork coach Dave Carroll, whose perennial power team narrowly missed another playoff berth last season, said it's not the same Lucas program the Colts played almost three decades ago.

"This isn't your grandfather's Lucas. It's not your father's Lucas. We haven't played in more than 20 years and Lucas wasn't very good back then. But Lucas is a state powerhouse now," Carroll said.

DEFENSE, DEFENSE: The ground-and-pound Lucas offense gets a lot of attention. But it was the Cubs' defense that stood out Friday night, limiting Clear Fork to 137 yards of offense and shutting out the Colts in the second half.

"Two years ago, we challenged our kids to start matching what we did on offense on the defensive side of the ball," Spitler said.

"Our defensive coaches, led by coach (Jim) Sweat, made it a point of emphasis to get the defense to match the physicality, the attitude, everything we want to be, what we call Lucas football. And the last two years we've seen that."

Clear Fork quarterback Brady Tedrow, who missed last season due to injury, was held to 85 yards on 23 carries and completed just four of 10 passes for 16 yards. Wide receiver Ashton Lyon, an All-Ohio selection last year, was held to one reception for five yards.

"We just wanted to eliminate the big plays. Tedrow is a heck of an athlete ... the all-Ohio receiver, Lyons. We were just trying to keep everything in front of us and make the tackle," Spitler said.

Carroll praised the entire Lucas team, including a Cubs' offense that rushed for 253 yards on 46 carries, led by senior Ethan Sauder's 105 yards and a TD on 14 attempts.

"They are good really in all aspects of the game there. They remind me of (Midwest Athletic Conference) schools, the Minsters and Annas and Marion Locals and Versailles and all those guys that have been so good through the years," Carroll said.

"They're just very disciplined. They're very relentless. Coach Spitler has done just an unbelievable job. One of the toughest things in today's world of high school football is getting kids to understand that if you go hard and give everything you got every play, you can be pretty good,  even if you don't have big time athletes," Carroll said.

FAST START: Clear Fork dominated the first quarter, taking an 8-0 lead with five seconds left in the period on a 3-yard run by Tryston Robinson, who finished with 36 yards on 10 carries. Kaleb Hollar ran in the two-point conversion.

During the lightning delay, Spitler challenged his team to become more aggressive.

The Cubs did just that. Sauder tied the game with 8:32 left in the second quarter on an explosive 33-yard TD run and also ran in the conversion.

Lucas took a 15-8 lead just over four minutes later on a 27-yard TD run by Grant Barrett, who finished with 45 yards on 10 attempts. Culler added the PAT kick. 

Tedrow raced 70 yards with the ensuing kickoff, tackled at the Lucas 15-yard line. He scored on a 4-yard run with 2:47 left in the second quarter with Luke Labaki kicking the PAT to tie the score at the 10-minute intermission.

The game-winning drive was classic Lucas football. The Cubs began at their own 20-yard line with 7:12 left in the third quarter and drove down the field, eating almost eight minutes off the clock before Culler nailed his FG with 11:22 left in the game.

All that remained was for the Lucas defense to hold the line, including a crucial stop after Clear Fork's Jack Harris picked up a Cubs' fumble and returned it to the visitors' 27-yard line with just over five minutes left to play.

COACHES PLEASED: Both coaches said they were pleased with the efforts of their teams.

"Being without three starters tonight, and being able to do that, I'll take it," Spitler said.

"This was for all the past Lucas teams (that lost to the Colts.) I couldn't be more proud of our kids. We didn't have practice Wednesday. We lost three starters. Tuesday, we didn't get any individual practice time as far as skill positions because of the weather.

"And then to come out, we looked rough, especially offensively. Our timing was not where it needed to be. But the kids gutted it out and I couldn't be more proud of them handling diversity this week," he said.

"Teams are supposed to make the biggest jump improvement wise from week one to week two. We got a lot of work to do. Hopefully, we get a chance to get back to work this week and Mother Nature and other things let us."

Carroll said his team was much improved since a scrimmage last week against Madison.

"I can't fault our kids. We had great effort tonight and our kids showed a lot of toughness. We weren't real sure what we were going to get tonight because last week and sometimes in our practices, we weren't getting that kind of effort," Carroll said.

"I thought we did a lot of great things that we can build on for the rest of the season," he said.

UP NEXT: Lucas travels to meet Division IV Ontario next Friday, a second stop on the MOAC tour. The Warriors season-opener Friday night against Shelby was postponed until Saturday at 5 p.m. due to lightning.

On that same night, Clear Fork hosts MOAC foe River Valley, a Division III team that shocked Galion, 20-19, in the season opener on Friday night.

on downs with 3:14 remaining.

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