AMBOY – It’s Week 9 of high school football’s regular season.
With an 8-man Football playoff spot already locked in, there is one more thing the Amboy-LaMoille-Ohio football team wants to do during the last week of the season, stay undefeated.
To do so, the Clippers (8-0) have to play Polo (7-1) at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20 in Amboy.
“Without a doubt Polo is a rivalry game. We’ve had some good games against Polo since we joined 8-man football,” A-L-O coach Scott Payne said. “They’re only 26 miles away from Amboy. It’s definitely a rivalry game because all the kids from Polo and Amboy know each other. It’s a big game Friday night.
“It’s going to be a very good game and we’re going to have a good atmosphere; it’s Senior Night in Amboy. There is going to be a lot going on.”
The Marcos have scored 341 points this season, while allowing 140. The Clippers have scored 385 and have allowed 90.
Polo’s only loss of the season came in Week 3 against Milledgeville, 58-22, while A-L-O defeated Milledgeville 32-20 in Week 6.
Payne and the Clippers know what they have to do against Polo. Defensively, it’s highly important that the defensive line plugs the holes and doesn’t give the Marco’s star player any room to run.
“Offensively, they have a very good quarterback/running back in senior Brock Soltow as he plays both positions. He’s what I call a triple threat on offense because he can throw, catch, and run,” said Payne on Soltow, who has recorded passing, rushing, and receiving touchdowns in the same game this season. “That’s a tough thing to defend when a player can do all three. He was area player of the year last year and he’s having an even better season this year. We’re going to have to find ways to shut him down.
“They’re very good at throwing the ball, too. Senior Carter Merdian is their quarterback when Soltow isn’t and he’s an accurate passer. We’re really going to have to defend the run and the pass this week.”
The Clippers can say they’re still undefeated after defeating Orangeville 72-12 on Friday, October 13.
Defensively, Amboy-LaMoille-Ohio stayed focused on the Broncos’ star running back Blake Folgate.
“Coming into our game, Orangeville was on a three-game winning streak and scored over 60 points in each of those games,” said Payne. “They had a lot of momentum going. They have a very good running back in Blake Folgate. He’s leading 8-man Football in rushing. We knew we had our challenges ahead of us to stop their run game. Our defense did a great job of slowing him down.
“We put a couple different blitzes in our game plan to shut down a few of the plays they like to use with Folgate. Other than that, we stuck with what we know best and kept it nice and simple for the kids so they could just go out, play, react, and have fun.”
In their first home game since Week 1 of the season, the Clippers showcased what they’ve been demonstrating at away stadiums all fall, their running game.
“We came out and ran the ball very well in the first half,” Payne said. “Landon Whelchel had three touchdown and 167 yards. Quinn Leffelman had three touchdowns and 81 yards. Blaine had an 18-yard touchdown run. All those rushing plays set up our play-action pass. Eddie Jones was 6-of-6 for 123 yards and had a 28-yard touchdown pass to Blaine.
“When we come out and establish our run game, it sets up our play-action pass so much better.”
The offensive and defensive line did their part like they’ve done in every game.
The special team’s unit recovered an onside kick and didn’t allow any big kickoff returns.
And every player in a Clippers jersey did what coach preaches before every game, have fun.
“They’re having a blast. In my pregame speech, I always end it with the same speech, ‘Go out there and have fun. That’s all you have to do, go play the game and have fun. You don’t have to worry about winning and losing. That’s the coach’s job. Just have fun and play the game,’” Payne said. “They’re 17 years old, they just need to play the game and have fun. They’re having a good time. The starters were up cheering on the second- and third-string guys in the second half. They all get along with each other and enjoy playing football together. It’s a great thing to see.”