LOUDONVILLE — It’s not where John Battaglia wanted or expected to be after the first three weeks of the season, but Loudonville’s first-year coach isn’t ready to raise the white flag.
The Redbirds are still searching for their first victory as they open Principals Athletic Conference play at home Friday against Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (2-1), but Battaglia knows there is still plenty to play for.
“Sixteen teams (per region) make the playoffs now,” Battaglia said after last week’s 20-6 loss to backyard rival Hillsdale. “Every team we play the rest of the season is going to be a Division IV or a Division V school so we’ve still got a lot on the table to play for.”
The Division VI Redbirds are the smallest school in the PAC. CVCA, Triway, Fairless and Northwest are all Division IV schools. Manchester, Tuslaw and Orrville are in Division V.
Loudonville was 1-5 during last year’s pandemic-shortened regular season before catching fire in the postseason. The Redbirds won a pair of playoff games, including a 42-41 win over No. 2 seed Centerburg in the second round, before falling to Coal Grove in the Region 23 quarterfinals.
Loudonville has been competitive in all three games this fall. The Redbirds trailed Crestview 17-13 early in the second half in Week 1 before falling 45-25. Loudonville led Sharpsville (Pa.) in the fourth quarter before giving up a late touchdown in a 7-6 loss. Last week at Hillsdale, the Redbirds trailed 7-6 at the half.
“We’re definitely getting better. There’s still some stuff we’ve got to clean up, but we’ll keep climbing the mountain,” Battaglia said. “It’s easy to be happy when things are going good but the question is what are you going to do when things aren’t going your way? Are we going to rise to the challenge and keep battling?”
Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (2-1) at Loudonville (0-3): CVCA quarterback Joey Lehner torched Woodridge in last week’s 21-3 win. Lehner ran 78 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter and threw a pair of touchdown passes to Brennan Darr. Lehner completed 6 of 11 passes for 104 yards and rushed for 90 yards.
Loudonville quarterback Matt Sprang completed 16 of 24 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown in last weeks loss at Hillsdale. Connor Harper hauled in a 4 yard touchdown and had 50 receiving yards. Junior Peyton Regan is a rugged runner who had a team-high 20 yards on the ground last week.
Ashland (0-3) at Sandusky Perkins (2-1): The Arrows turned the ball over on downs twice in the final two minutes of last week’s 23-21 loss to Teays Valley. Running back Cayden Spotts rushed for 66 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries and threw a 60 yard TD pass to Grayson Steury. Landon McFrederick is one of the area’s top dual threat quarterbacks. Safety Kadin Schmitz had 10 tackles in the loss to Teays Valley, while defensive back Jonathan Metzger picked off a pass.
The Pirates intercepted four passes and blocked an extra point in the fourth quarter of a 21-20 win over previously unbeaten Port Clinton. Receiver Drake Venerucci caught four passes for 98 yards, including a couple of highlight reel TD grabs of 29 and 26 yards. Running back Collin Nemitz rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries, while freshman defensive back Weston Sturzinger intercepted a pair of passes.
Crestview (3-0) at Western Reserve (3-0): The Cougars boast one of north central Ohio’s most prolific offenses. Crestview is averaging 46.7 points a game after last week’s 41-21 win over previously unbeaten East Knox. Junior quarterback Hayden Kuhn has completed 17 of 27 passes for 432 yards and six touchdowns and has yet to throw an interception in his first year under center. Senior running back Connor Morse has rushed for 384 yards and a whopping nine touchdowns on 47 carries. Morse lead the defense with 31 tackles, including 13 solo stops. Owen Barker has four sacks, while Mason Ringler has three sacks. The Cougars have scored two defensive touchdowns on the season after Adison Reymer returned a fumble 52 yards for a touchdown against East Knox.
The Roughriders improved to 3-0 with a 14-0 win over Edison. Western Reserve has allowed just 22 points in three games and is 3-0 for the first time since 2010. Quarterback Jude Muenz completed 7 of 12 passes for 66 yards and tossed a 5 yard touchdown to Jacob Jarrett in the third quarter. Muenz also rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries.
Rittman (2-1) at Hillsdale (1-2): Rittman suffered its first loss of the season last week, falling 47-6 at Mapleton. Rittman had allowed only 21 points in its first two games of the season before running into trouble at Mapleton. Freshman running back Artie Sonego rushed for 87 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Rittman’s opener against Ashtabula St. John and added 84 yards 84 yards in a Week 2 win over Springfield.
The Falcons knocked off backyard rival Loudonville 20-6 for their first win of the season. Hillsdale employed a two-quarterback system and got good production from both Cole Sinnett and Jake Hoverstock. Sinnett threw for 113 yards and hooked up with Carter Brightbill on a 39 yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. Hoverstock helped orchestrate Hillsdale’s final scoring drive which culminated with a 2 yard Presley Lewis run. Sinnett has completed 14 of 32 passes for 223 yards and a pair of touchdowns while playing through a nagging injury. Hoverstock has rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns and thrown for a score. Receiver Justin Zeigler has battled injury early in the year but has a team-best nine catches for 137 yards. Fellow wideout Carter Brightbill has five catches for 113 yards and two TDs. Defensively, junior safety Max Vesper leads the way with 28 tackles and two interceptions. Linebackers Ethan Goodwin and Jax Rogers each have 25 tackles