Paden City Wildcats Welcome Bridgeport Bulldogs
PADEN CITY–Someone is going to walk out of Berger Field on Friday night with their first win of the season as Paden City welcomes Bridgeport.
The Wildcats (0-2) have suffered losses to Symmes Valley and Tygarts Valley early in the campaign and have also been hit by the injury bug, but head coach Brent Croasmun is hoping to get some guys back this week and get in the win column.
“Our tailback, Marcus Allen, suffered a knee injury last Friday and we don’t know his status at this point,” Croasmun said. “Also, our offensive guard and defensive end, Drew Carpenter, missed Friday’s game but we may get him back for this week’s game. We are kind of banged up but if we can get Drew back it will be a tremendous boost to our line.
“Our kids were definitely frustrated last Friday because everything was going wrong, but they never quit playing and they want to win. They are working hard and they have been through a lot of adversity. Winning a game would really help with the rest of the season.”
As for the Bulldogs (0-3), they have fallen on the road to Southern Local and Toronto and last week at home to Madonna. However, head coach Gary Krol is ready to put it behind him and focus on the next game.
“I think it would be huge for us to get a win,” Krol said. “We need something good to happen to us so we can gain some confidence going forward.”
A new quarterback is also going to be lining up behind center this week for the Wildcats as Ethan Cross looks to take the snaps and Michael Shreves moves to the tailback position.
“One bright spot last week for us was Ethan Cross’ first game,” Croasmun said. “He came out late this year after suffering a bad injury last summer and having shoulder surgery.
“We are probably going to use him at quarterback and move Shreves to tailback. That will make Shreves more comfortable, too, but he still might take some snaps back there once in a while.”
A week ago, Madonna rushed for 394 yards on the Bulldogs defense and Paden City carried the ball for 182 yards against the Tygarts Valley defense, which could be an area the Wildcats could succeed on Friday.
Ryan Cross tallied 78 yards and a score on the ground, Rander Amos garnered 75 yards and Ethan Cross added 36 yards and a touchdown.
“We were going to try to run the ball since the beginning of the season,” Croasmun said. “That is our game plan and it is not going to change but we will throw some passes here and there.”
Defending the run, along with not turning the ball over are several keys to victory for the Bulldogs this week.
“We kind of got torched last week but we are putting a lot of effort in this week to stop the run,” Krol said. “When you get beat like that, you look for the next team you play to do those things, too. We will try to sure some things up and maybe move some kids around in practice.
“We have to do a better job of not turning the ball over at crucial times, as well.”
Bridgeport had several areas of success against the Blue Dons with quarterback Tino Kusic firing for 263 yards and a touchdown to Jeremiah Booker, who hauled in 81 yards.
“Kusic is a smart kid and he gets a grasp of what we are trying to do on offense,” Krol said. “He completes a pretty good percentage of passes but he has been under duress. We need to give him more time so he can do even more good things for us.”
“Booker is a good athlete. He has a good football I.Q. that we can work with. If he can sharpen up some of his routes and get him in space, we could find him a lot easier. He does a lot of good for us. He is a dynamic kid with good hands.”
If the Wildcats want to slow down the passing game of Bridgeport, getting pressure on the quarterback is where it all starts.
“One thing we didn’t do the other night was put pressure on the quarterback,” Croasmun said. “We have to put pressure on the quarterback if we want to improve.”
Mannix Doyle also delivered an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown for the Bulldogs last week, while the Wildcats surrendered a 70-yard return for a score by Tygarts Valley’s Dalton Grimes, making special teams something to watch for.
Bridgeport has had the edge over Paden City over the last three years, winning all three contests by less than eight points.