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Football Lookahead: The Night the Lights Came on in Bowerston

October 10, 2013
By JIM ELLIOTT , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

BOWERSTON - They're not exactly rolling out the red carpets for the Paden City Wildcats this week, but they are turning on the lights.

The clubs will meet Saturday night under portable lights for the second night game in Conotton Valley history.

''It's something they're going to try to do every year,'' Conotton Valley coach Eric Schumacher said.

It's not Homecoming. It's not Senior Night. It's just something they want to do.

''There should be a good crowd with some decent weather,'' Schumacher said.

The best part, for both teams, is they think it's a winnable game.

Given that Conotton Valley is 1-5 and Paden City is 2-4, and one of these clubs is coming off a 54-point loss and both will play more freshmen than seniors, that's not always been the case.

In the case of the Wildcats, that record is deceiving, Coach Brent Croasmun says.

''We're 2-4, but we should be 4-2,'' he said. ''We've got it backwards. The fact that we don't have any seniors on our team, there's been some crucial times where some senior leadership could have gotten us over the edge a little bit.

"I'm really happy with the progress these kids have made. They continue to get better and that's what we're trying to do.''

Perhaps that would have helped last week in a last-minute 20-19 loss to Cameron, but looking back is for the end of the season.

The Wildcats are getting ready for the Rockets.

It's a game both coaches like because the sizes of the schools are similar - both tiny OVAC Class A schools - with a similar talent base from which to choose.

''I think it's going to be a real good ballgame,'' Croasmun said.

A point of emphasis for both coaches is the Paden City passing game, led by quarterback Zach Heasley, who has thrown for more than 800 yards without keying on one particular receiver.

Croasmun likes that a bunch.

''We've evolved into a pretty decent passing team,'' he said. ''We've used five different guys catching the football. I thought early in the season that might be a strength of ours, that we might be able to use the whole field.

''You can't really tee on one particular player on this team. That's what we look for in the course of a game is mismatches we can exploit.''

Schumacher knows all about it.

''Their quarterback is one of those that athletes that we have to keep in check,'' Schumacher said. ''He's got a good stature, good arm, his mechanics are good. We have to get pressure on him. We also have to be responsible because he can take off and run, too.''

Conotton Valley is coming off a 62-8 loss to a really good Steubenville Catholic team. They'll treat that the same way Paden City did with Cameron.

Forget it.

''It's in the past,'' he said. ''We're going to move on. We're looking ahead to Paden City. It's a game we should be able to compete for a win. We're not going to (drown) in our sorrows. We got that game out of our heads.''

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