Canal Winchester: Indians expecting better performance against Franklin Heights
Opening-week losses have not deterred the Canal Winchester football team from overall success in recent years, but one of the first things on Indians coach Josh Stratton's mind as the focus turned to Week 2 was preventing big plays.
A 33-14 home loss to Worthington Kilbourne on Aug. 28 featured several such plays, most of which came from the Wolves.
"They had a lot of big plays and we didn't prevent them, and we didn't make any big plays ourselves," Stratton said. "Our first drive was 12 plays and 82 yards, but we stalled out because of penalties and missed a field goal. That kind of set the tone for the night."
Stephan Byrd rushed for 145 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries, giving the Indians their only lead at 7-6 in the second quarter.
Canal Winchester will try to rebound Friday, Sept. 4, when it continues OCC-Capital Division play against Franklin Heights at Grove City. The Falcons lost 17-0 to Westerville North in their opener Aug. 28.
The Indians committed three turnovers last week, two fumbles and an interception, in suffering just their second league loss in three years. The setback also snapped an 11-game home winning streak dating to the 2017 season.
Byrd accounted for just more than half of his teams 286 total yards. The Indians rushed for 243 yards and passed for 43, including an 18-yard touchdown from Reese Musick to Dakota Jolly with 3 minutes, 20 seconds left in the game.
Linebacker Blaine Riley's seven tackles, all solo, led the defense.
"We have some returning letterwinners but in terms of guys who have been every down-type guys or returning starters, we don't have a lot of them," Stratton said. "We had to replace something like 16 starters, and those guys have to gain Friday night experience. We'll go through some growing pains. We'll have to fight every week. Wins will not be easy to come by."
This week's game is being played at Grove City because of stadium capacity issues. Franklin Heights' stadium has only one set of stands, on the home side.
The Falcons' other two home games also are expected to be played at Grove City or one of South-Western City Schools' other high schools, Central Crossing or Westland.
Franklin Heights was shut out for the first time in 13 games, since a 45-0 loss to the Indians on Oct. 18, 2018, and lost its opener for the third time in four years.
Junior quarterback Jeffery Beverly, a third-year starter, completed 98 of 174 passes for 1,306 yards with 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last season and rushed for 230 yards and three touchdowns on 41 carries.
Junior Artrell Saunders is the Falcons' top returning receiver, with 32 receptions for 292 yards and four touchdowns last year.
North led 7-0 at halftime and pulled away with a touchdown in the third quarter and a field goal in the fourth to go ahead by three scores.
The Indians have won their past two games against Franklin Heights by a combined score of 93-6.
"They look much better defensively than they have," Stratton said. "They have a veteran at quarterback and they look like they've simplified what they want to do offensively. They have some skill guys who are hard to cover."
CANAL WINCHESTER vs. FRANKLIN HEIGHTS
*When: 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4
*Where: Grove City
*Last meeting: 2019, Canal Winchester 48-6
*Canal Winchester (0-1 overall, 0-1 in OCC-Capital) to date: Lost to Worthington Kilbourne 33-14
*Franklin Heights (0-1 overall, 0-1 in OCC-Capital) to date: Lost to Westerville North 17-0
*Top Indians: Stephan Byrd (RB), Jonathon Chandler (DL), Mason Fry (OL), Andre Heglar (WR), Korbin Martino (DB), Joey Moreno (OL), Reese Musick (QB), Blaine Riley (LB/P) and Luke Twiss (LB)
*Top Falcons: Jeffrey Beverly (QB), Adrian Bowers (RB/LB), Jacob Prince (OL/DL), Sam Rush (RB/DL), Artrell Saunders (WR/DB) and Bobby Watt (OL/DL)