AMBOY – The 8-man football playoff bracket was already a destination for the Amboy-LaMoille-Ohio football team.
A top seed in the playoffs is definite.
Although postseason goals are already wrapped up, the Clippers still want to play their brand of football throughout the rest of the season.
The Clippers undefeated brand of football stood tall once again in a 66-0 Week 7 non-conference victory against Ashton-Franklin Center.
“To get another win, a seventh win, to increase our playoff seeding, that’s always good. The kids are getting better every single week and that’s want you want at this time of the season, for them to improve week in and week out,” said A-L-O coach Scott Payne, who led his team to its second shutout of the season with the first coming in Week 1. “The defense was excited about the shutout. Anytime you can get a shutout, the kids that play defense get excited. Actually, in the second half when second and third string players came in, everyone was happy that they were able to complete the shutout, too.
“They were excited to see their teammates play well.”
The Clippers had a 46-0 lead at halftime and scored 20 more in the second half after the starters were on the sideline.
The offense came from some familiar suspects as junior running back Quinn Leffelman had two touchdowns and 72 yards on three carries, senior running back Landon Whelchel took four carries for 62 yards and two touchdowns, junior quarterback Eddie Jones passed for a touchdown and ran in a score, and senior tight end Brennan Blaine had four receptions for 82 yards and a score.
Senior Geo Gatza also found paydirt as he had five carries and 45 yards for a TD.
Although Blaine hasn’t been the headline of every game like he was last year, his impact hasn’t changed as he scores a receiving touchdown in every contest and has collected rushing yards.
“We’re a running football team and we love to throw the play-action pass. We’re able to have two kids like Quinn Leffleman and Landon Whelchel and give them the football,” Payne said. “We pound on the defense six, seven, eight plays in a roll with the run to set up the play-action pass to get the ball deep to Blaine. That’s what we look for and that’s what we want to do.
“Brennan has some great hands. Against AFC, Eddie Jones threw about a 25-yard pass to Blaine and he made a great catch where he had to drag his toes on the sideline. That was one of the best catches I’ve seen a high school kid make. Those are the things I’m used to when watching Blaine. We’ve been watching for three years now. He’s an exciting player to watch.”
On defense, Blaine accounted for seven tackles (four solo) and two quarterback sacks against AFC. Leffelman accounted for nine (five solo) and two QB sacks.
However, they weren’t the only players accredited for the shutout.
“A lot of those quarterback sacks are because of pressure brought up the middle with Landon Montavon and Austin Heath,” Payne said. “They push their guys and force the quarterback to roll out one way or the other, and most of the time they roll out to Brennan or Quinn. I told those guys, ‘A few of those sacks, you should be thanking Heath and Montavon.’”
Through seven weeks of football, the Clippers had one home game, Week 1, and a scrimmage against the junior varsity squad in Week 4.
Instead of being the road warriors they’ve been all season, the last two games of the season are at home as they host Orangeville at 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14 and Polo at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20.
“We had practice Monday morning and I was telling my assistants, ‘You have no idea how good it feels to know we’re at home this week. It feels like we haven’t had a home game in two months,’” said Payne. “It’s nice to end the year with two home games. I think the kids are excited to be at home and play in front of our fans, especially against Orangeville.
“The kids will be able to wear the home jerseys for the first time in three weeks (wore them in a Homecoming scrimmage against the Clippers’ junior varsity team).”
Orangeville was 1-8 last year but have improved to 4-3 this season.
Payne and company know what, or who, to focus on this week in practice.
“Orangeville is a good football team. They have a good running back in Blake Folgate. A couple of weeks ago, he had over 400 rushing yards and five touchdowns in a game,” Payne said. “They look to get him the ball a lot with an inside trap game and sweeps to the outside.
“I told the kids, ‘Our run defense has to be real good this week because if we give him one little seam, he’s gone. He’s the focal point for us this week. We want to stop the run, get them out of their comfort zone with going to the air, and do our best to stop Folgate.”