It’s only Week 3.
It’s supposed to be too early for any talk of showdowns. It’s supposed to just be a non-conference tune-up with league play starting next week.
Just don’t tell the Elyria and Midview players Friday’s battle of unbeatens on the still-fresh Ross Field turf at Adelsberg Stadium doesn’t matter.
And it’s not just about bragging rights. The winner figures to pick up a bushel full of computer points.
“We’ve been preparing hard all week,” said Elyria senior defensive lineman Tracy Sprinkle, an Ohio State recruit who had six sacks and a forced fumble in last week’s 43-7 win over Elyria Catholic.
“We know Midview’s a good team and (quarterback Cody Callaway) can move around pretty good. I think we’re all looking forward to playing on the new turf against a good team. It should be exciting.”
The backyard neighbors are just 10 minutes apart — less than 6 miles — and the distance between playing fields is under 5 miles. This is 12th time the teams, former members of the short-lived Erie Shore Conference, have played, but the first since 2007 when the Middies came away with a 13-7 victory.
Elyria leads the series, 7-4.
Both have started the season with a bang. Besides the win over EC, Elyria owns a 63-28 win over Amherst. Midview defeated Lorain, 42-13, and Amherst, 21-13. The final scores of the common opponent — Amherst — may be misleading. The Comets led Elyria 21-20 at halftime and trailed just 35-28 going into the final quarter.
Against Midview, Amherst battled back from a 21-6 deficit and had the ball inside the Middies’ 20 with a chance for a possible tie in the closing minutes.
“We played with Elyria for three quarters,” said Amherst coach Chad DiFranco, “and we had our chances to win against Midview. We had the ball down close twice late in the game. We had more total yards. It’ll come down to who makes plays. It should be a great game for the fans.
“The difference might be that Callaway (a junior), has got to make plays for Midview to win. He’s very good at checking out of stuff and making the right play call. He understands the game and Lauer (Eric) is as good a receiver as I’ve seen.
“Elyria’s quarterback (sophomore Hunter Parsh) doesn’t have to win the game. He just can’t lose it. Elyria’s got the backs. I think it’ll be Elyria’s running backs against Midview’s passing and receivers. Elyria’s offensive line is very good.”
The Callaway-Lauer combination has been deadly for the Middies. They’ve hooked up for five touchdowns and nearly 200 yards. Callaway, who has been a starter since late in his freshman year, has completed 35 of 61 passes for 436 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions. The Middies have lost only one fumble.
“He’s the best quarterback we’ve seen,” Elyria coach Kevin Fell said. “He’s mobile. He’s a pretty good scrambler. He’s pretty good.”
“Cody’s a special player,” said veteran Midview coach Bill Albright, now in his 27th year. “He learns quickly. We’ve had a good start. I thought we played well in our scrimmages against some good competition.”
The key will be Callaway’s ability to avoid Elyria’s sack-happy defense. The Pioneers, led by Sprinkle, have piled up 15 sacks already with Sprinkle credited with eight.
If Calloway has time, Midview should be able to move the ball and score. The Pioneers have given up 444 yards and four touchdowns through the air but only 39 yards on the ground. Elyria’s defense has accounted for a touchdown, a safety and seven turnovers.
“I can’t wait,” Callaway said. “Elyria has a great defensive line but I trust my offensive line. I may have to scramble around a little more to buy some time. They’re a good team. It should be a great game.”
The irony is that Callaway is following in his father’s footsteps. Twenty-five years ago, Dwayne Callaway, a Midview Athletic Hall of Famer, led the Middies past Elyria 34-21 in the first meeting of the schools.
The Middies bounced back from a 14-8 halftime deficit. It was a much different Midview offense under Albright in those days. The Middies ran for 272 yards and threw for just 64 as Mike Carpenter and Jason Gendics both finished with more than 100 yards rushing.
“It was a different age, obviously,” said the elder Callaway, now an assistant on Midview’s staff. “We’d line up in the I-formation and use some play-action. Now it’s wide open. I couldn’t be more proud of what Cody’s accomplished. I feel very blessed.”
Elyria’s offense poses problems as well with tailbacks Jordan Connell, Keon Neely and Jumarr Lewis. Connell already has rushed for 283 yards and six touchdowns. Receivers Dan Ratliff, Donte Dukes, Ja’Jaun Glover and Darrin Terry are all dangerous. Parsh has actually thrown for more yards than Callaway.
“(Coach Fell) has a lot of weapons at his disposal,” Albright said. “Obviously Elyria has some great running backs. We run a lot of the same routes they do in the spread but with those backs, it makes it a little more challenging.”
- WHO: Elyria (2-0) vs. Midview (2-0)
- WHEN: Friday, 7 p.m.
- WHERE: Midview’s Ross Field at Adelsberg Stadium
- RADIO: WEOL 930-AM, WDLW 1380-AM
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or email@example.com.