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Indian Creek to Host 1st Playoff Game

Photo by Joe Catullo Trevor Fante and Indian Creek will host their first playoff game Saturday as Hubbard makes the trip to Kettlewell Memorial Stadium.

WINTERSVILLE — Indian Creek has checked a lot of boxes and accomplished a lot of goals this season. The biggest on the list, though, is still in front of it — win a playoff game.

It has the chance to be the first Redskins team to do that on Saturday night, as the No. 3 seed Redskins host a playoff game for the first time against No. 6 seed Hubbard in the opening round of the Ohio Division IV, Region 13 playoffs.

“There have been a lot of accomplishments,” veteran Indian Creek coach Andrew Connor said. “We finished seventh in the state poll, which is our highest one. We were able to win the OVAC back-to-back years. We got a home playoff game, tied the school record for wins with nine, winning the Buckeye 8 again, those were all goals. The big goal that we had circled, though, that we talked about after the loss to Hubbard last year, was to get back and get a win — and we have put ourselves in that position. That is the focal point of our football program to follow through on that goal and get out first playoff win.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to be in the playoffs six out of the last eight years. I think that’s a big reason why we are where we’re at. For us, now we want to take that step forward. We shouldn’t just be happy to make Week 11.

“I think the kids see that and they want to make their mark on our program to be the ones to win that first playoff game. It’s something they set as a goal and now the goal is in front of us.”

Hubbard defeated Indian Creek in the opening round of last season’s playoffs, 51-21. The big difference being that game was plays on the Eagles’ home turf. This time, it’s in the friendly confines of Kettlewell Memorial Stadium.

“You can always go back and look at the things you did,” Connor said. “They have guys returning like we have guys returning. Hubbard has been so successful for so many years. They probably do a lot of the same stuff they do, we don’t really change a lot of the stuff we do, either. I think you can probably get a little bit of a feel from last year’s game. You have to go back and see what kids have developed. You can look at names and rosters. It’s always something good to fall back on, it’s very rare that you play a team in the playoffs and come right back and play them again the next year.”

The Eagles, who went 6-4 and lost three of their final four games, have faced some tough competition down the stretch. Connor expects Hubbard, who average 19.5 points per game, to run the ball.

“They like to run the football, there’s no question about that,” Connor said. “It’s their bread and butter and they run it well, they have a big offensive line and are a very physical football team. They play a very good schedule. If you look at who they’ve played, especially in the last couple weeks — South Range, Poland, Niles — they are used to big game. They have been tested.”

Likewise, he feels his Redskins have been tested, too.

“We played at St. C. and against Indian Valley early in the season, those games pushed us to our limits,” he said. “As we have gone down the stretch here, Martins Ferry was surging at the time we played them and they are a very good football team with a lot of tradition, we felt like Harrison Central was surging when we played and was a very good football team. We feel like we have been tested and we had to play some of our best football to get here. We feel like we have gotten better week by week.”

The Redskins have two things going that a team needs to be successful this time of the year — ground game and defense. Creek racked up 307.6 yards and 30.7 points per game during the regular season. Of those yards, an average of 248.4 of them came on the ground. Trevor Fante, the standout senior tailback, finished with 1,295 yards and 19 scores, while quarterback Sam Mazar added 405 yards and eight rushing touchdowns.

On defense, the Redskins are allowing just 188.6 yards and 7.3 points per game.

“I think the two things that make me happiest as a head football coach is we’re playing sound defense — we’re able to flip the field a lot, we’re able to push other teams behind the chains a lot – and you obviously want to be able to run the football this time of year, and our offensive line has been really found itself in the last three or four games,” Connor said.

When the teams take the field on Saturday night, and even in the time leading up to the game, Connor expects an incredible atmosphere.

“All day Saturday, people will be getting ready for the game and tailgating and everything else,” he said. “It is just going to make it special for the kids. A lot of people are coming, I’m sure Hubbard is going to bring a big crowd. It’s going to be a battle of two bands that are both going to be in excess of 170 kids, so the place is going to be loud. You want to enjoy moment, but not get caught up in the moment. That’s a very fine line. You want to enjoy the atmosphere and the fans, but you don’t want that moment to get too big. For us, we need to get off to a fast start and protect the football. I know those are cliche, but we don’t want to hurt ourselves with penalties or turnovers. We need to be sound in the way we play.

“It helps. This senior class has been in the playoffs three of four years. I think they remember their freshman year and they remember last year. It’s important.”

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