FREMONT – Fremont Ross and Sandusky will meet on the football field for the 114th meeting all-time Friday night at Don Paul Stadium.
But it will be the first time many of the Little Giants will be experiencing the rivalry first-hand.
“We’ve been talking a lot about it to the kids, about what this game means – not just for Fremont football but for the town,” head coach Chad Long said. “They hear it enough back home, from uncles, parents, grandparents. It’s a no-brainer, everybody has a lot of dislike for Sandusky.”
They also have a dislike for the Blue Streaks’ three-straight wins in the series, including last year’s 14-6 victory over the Little Giants.
“We’re talking about pride and playing with heart and representing not only for Fremont football but the entire town,” Long said.
The Little Giants (1-1) enter Friday night coming off their first win of the season last week against Toledo Start. The Little Giants employed a two-tight end formation to aid the offensive line in running the ball, which resulted in 232 rushing yards.
Ross plans to continue keeping the ball on the ground.
“We can run the ball,” Long said. “I think our kids are very, very confident in being able to run the ball. Against Sandusky, it will be tough, but we will run the ball and that will allow Kaden (Holmes) to do his passing out of it. Kaden is gaining a lot of confidence at the quarterback position. We, as coaches, are gaining a lot of confidence in (running backs) Andrew Born and Daniel Rusher, and you may see a two-back set and have them both in the backfield. If I’m an opposing team, I really don’t want to see them both in the backfield.”
If Ross can keep the ball on the ground, sustain long drives and control time of possession, it will limit opportunities for Sandusky’s offense, led by running back Terion Stewart and quarterback Shonsai Aaron.
Stewart has been a nightmare for the Little Giants. As a freshman, he ripped off a 96-yard touchdown. Last year, he totaled 225 yards on 38 carries, with two touchdowns, including am 89-yarder. His “low-point” against Ross came as a sophomore when Ross held him to 89 yards on 20 carries.
But Stewart isn’t Sandusky’s only weapon. Senior quarterback Shonsai Aaron ran for 245 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries in the Blue Streaks’ 55-27 win last week over Springfield. Stewart, who sprained his ankle in the preseason, totaled 116 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown, in limited action, carrying the ball just seven times.
Sandusky (2-0) presents a difficult task for the Little Giant defense which, despite totaling seven sacks last week against Start, Long said needs a much-improved performance.
“We didn’t play very well up front. We didn’t tackle very well,” Long said. “We could have had at least seven more sacks. We could have had way more, we missed a lot of them.
“With that being said, I think this is the best defensive line Sandusky is going to see. It comes down to being able to play our keys. Read what we’re supposed to read: Back-side end always has the cross-read, make sure the quarterback ain’t puling the ball. They’re running with the quarterback a lot more than they ever have.”
While Long and the coaches have been reiterating to their players the deep local interest in Friday’s game, with such attention can also come pressure. With the vast majority of Ross’ starters playing Sandusky for the first time, how big a factor will nerves play?
“I don’t think they’re nervous at all,” Long said. “I think we have an excellent gameplan, both offensively and defensively. I think their offense gives us a lot of keys on what they do, based on formation. We just have to stop it. It’s no secret for Sandusky. They think they’re going to beat you because they’re more athletic.”