Last year at this time, the Canal Winchester High School football team was playing well. Owners of a 5-0 record, the Indians traveled to Fairfield Union and returned home with a 14-12 loss to the previously winless Falcons.

After beating Circleville 24-0 last Friday, Canal Winchester is in the same position as a year ago. The Indians are 5-0 and have a chance to make up for last year's loss, which cost them a chance at a perfect regular season, though coach Phil Mauro said the team is only focused on this year.

"We're not really looking at in a revengeful manner," Mauro said. "We just want to go out there and play well. Last year is last year. We've got to be focused on the job at hand. They're a different team than they were last year and we're a different team."

Fairfield Union had a slow start but has since started playing better. The Falcons lost to New Lexington 31-6, lost to Liberty Union 27-7 and lost to Watkins Memorial 28-20 before defeating Hamilton Township 33-7 and Teays Valley 34-32.

Part of the reason for the turnaround has been the decision by Falcons coach Tom McCurdy to move Pat Seesholtz from tight end to running back. Seesholtz (6-foot-3, 225 pounds), who weights 40 pounds more than previous-starter Blake Bowen (5-11, 175), has added a much more physical dimension to Fairfield Union's wing-T offense.

"They got some linemen back from last year and they're a really physical team. Moving Seesholtz to running back has also helped them become really efficient with the ground game," Mauro said.
While moving the ball hasn't been a problem for Canal Winchester, the Indians will continue to rely on their strong defense.

Led by linemen Ryan Huff, Travis Stevenson and Zack Hitchens and linebackers Tyler Steube, Harrison Rosch and Ryan Rose, the run defense has been strong, but now has been boosted by the addition of a strong pass defense.

In the win over Circleville, cornerback Mike Romanowski had two interceptions inside the Indians' 20-yard line. The team has picked off 14 passes this season.

The Falcons are hoping to continue to sustain long drives. Mauro said his team can't afford to let them settle into a good offensive rhythm.

"The biggest thing is they've got those long drives," Mauro said. "They might use a whole quarter with 12- to14-play drives and we'll have to work hard at stopping that. We want to try to make them punt. We need to address that and put them in situations where they have to punt."

Another concern for Canal Winchester will be stopping itself. The Indians have had trouble more than their share of holding penalties that have killed drives, or had touchdowns called back.
"Holding is such a subjective call," Mauro said. "We just need to keep harping on our technique and refining it. If the hands continue to slip outside the framework, then we'll need to pay more attention to that because those are the penalties that get us. The guys up front are young, but they're gaining experience and hopefully by game six it's something we won't have to deal with."