After suffering their first road loss in three years, the Fredonia Hillbillies will look to get back into the win column tonight when they host the Gowanda Panthers in a Class C high school football game at the Orange Bowl.
Though the Gowanda Panthers have yet to put any points on the board this season, Fredonia coach Bob Ball is not taking this game lightly as the Hillbillies have struggled against Gowanda in the past.
Two years ago, Fredonia and Gowanda were tied 0-0 at halftime, and just last year, Gowanda held a 28-12 halftime lead before the Hillbillies rallied for the victory. And though Gowanda is 0-3, they have not had an easy schedule.
The Fredonia Hillbillies will host the Gowanda Panthers tonight at the Orange Bowl at 7:30 p.m. in a Class C high school football game.?While that game is going on, the Dunkirk Marauders will be hosting the Eden?Raiders in a Class B?high school football showdown which could have major playoff implications.
"They have played tough teams," Ball said. "They have played Wilson, Eden and Cleveland Hill. I think they are better than what their record shows."
The biggest thing is they will be hungry for a win. When you're dealing with high school kids, they see Gowanda hasn't scored a point yet, so they might get over confident. We better not have that attitude. We are not in a position to do that."
In order for Fredonia to get back on the right track, it must clean up some areas - especially penalties and mental errors. Two weeks ago, Fredonia racked up 75 yards worth of penalties and followed that up with 85 yards worth of penalties last week.
"We can be very dangerous," Ball said. "We can be explosive and the kids know we have talent. We are not afraid to match up with anyone. We feel in our program, we can match up with anyone. But I don't care who you play, mental errors and penalties can kill you."
Ball noted he has had a good week of practice, but his team can't prepare for exact game situations.
"The practice has never been an issue," he said. "They show up for practice and do what they need to do to prepare. The problem was mental mistakes. You don't face that kind of stuff during practice. We have to control our emotions and be smart."
Ball isn't looking for one particular player to step up and have a big game, because there are multiple weapons he can go to, but also noted the passing game must be more effective.
"We run a system where the ball can be in different hands," Ball said. "Last week Zach Buckley went out with an injury. We had enough guys carry the load. There is not one guy who has to win the game for us. When guys are called upon, they have to produce. We dropped more passes the last three games than we did all last season. The receivers aren't getting open. We need to be much much stronger than we have been to walk away with a win.
"I'm looking forward to (tonight)," Ball concluded. "I want to get last week behind us and get a more positive mental frame of mind. If you're going to lose, get it in early in the season. We can draw positives from the loss and use it as motivation for the rest of the season."