Demons hope to maintain momentum as they head toward the playoffs
Washington has already clinched the second seed in Class 3A’s District 7 and will host a first-round playoff game next Wednesday, but that doesn’t mean the Demons don’t want to win Friday’s game against visiting Centerville.
“We need to win,” Washington head coach Randy Schrader said. “I think we need that momentum going into the playoffs. I don’t’ think there’s any doubt about that. We don’t want our heads down going into the playoffs going, ‘What if? What if? What if?’ We just want to go out and try to win a football game.”
The Demons (5-3, 4-1 District 7) will be taking on a Centerville squad that Schrader said is much better than its 1-7 record shows.
“I think they’re kind of a sleeper, and we understand — and our kids should understand — that this is their playoff game,” Schrader said.
The Big Reds picked up their first win of the season last Friday night, upsetting Fairfield 26-23.
“I think we finally executed,” Centerville head coach Chuck Evans said. “We had some opportunities [in seven-point losses to] Mt. Pleasant and Fort Madison, but didn’t execute some things. It was dropped passes, to be honest with you. Against Fairfield we caught some key passes to convert third downs and move the football.”
Centerville quarterback Michael Starcevich had a big game against the Trojans, completing 14 of his 31 passes for 235 yards and three touchdowns. On the season, the junior signal caller has thrown for 1,085 yards, seven touchdowns and six interceptions.
“Everything goes through the quarterback,” Evans said. “In the game against Fairfield, he threw to six different receivers, so that shows he’s seeing the field well and spreading the ball around.”
Starcevich’s main target was senior wingback Levi Sebolt, who caught five passes for 81 yards and a touchdown against the Trojans. Sebolt is also the Big Reds’ leading receiver on the season with 21 catches for 320 yards and three touchdowns.
Washington has typically played well against teams that like to throw the football this season, as that plays into the hands of the Demons. Many of Washington’s speedy skill players are in the defensive backfield. But that speed may be a disadvantage this week.
“You want to get pressure on their quarterback, but they screen so well,” Schrader said. “They have a really good screen pass, not only with their tunnel screens, but also with their running back screens. Our speed sometimes could be a disadvantage in the screen game if we don’t retrace what we need to do. We need to play smart football and assignment football.”
Evans, on the other hand, is scared about what Washington’s quick players could do on offense. Speedy fullback Alex Coker has rushed for 470 yards and six touchdowns in the last two games, wins over Mt. Pleasant and Fort Madison.
“I’ve watched them on film, and they’re an outstanding football team with great speed,” Evans said. “When Washington has the ball, they have so many weapons and they’re so quick. The film doesn’t do them justice, because the coaches I’ve talked to said they’re so quick and make you miss. So if we get an opportunity to tackle, we have to wrap them up. Otherwise, they’ll make you pay for it.”
Evans said that Mother Nature might give his defense a hand on Friday night. Rain is in the forecast today, tonight and tomorrow, and a muddy playing field may help the Big Reds slow down the Demons.
“The weather might help us the most if it keeps raining,” Evans said. “It slows down the track. They’ve posted 120 points in the last two games, so their offense is really rolling. They’re probably looking at our game as a tune-up for the playoffs, so we’re going to have our work cut out for us when we get there on Friday.”
Even though it might just be a tune-up for the Demons, Schrader doesn’t want his players to approach it that way. He wants his team to come out focused and get a victory.
“We need to make sure that we don’t play down to a 1-7 team’s level,” Schrader said. “We just want to maintain our poise and focus. If we do that, we should be OK.”
Washington’s seniors should be focused. This Friday is Senior Night, and it will be the final regular-season home game for 12 seniors.
“We’re going to recognize our seniors who have been in this program for four years and have done everything we’ve asked them to do,” Schrader said. “So, yeah, there should be some extra incentive.”
Schrader wants to get a win on Friday night, but he also wants to come away from the game healthy.
“That’s probably the No. 1 thing, outside of the win,” he said.