Tonight's Class C South matchup between Fredonia and Falconer is a tale of two programs heading in different directions.
Falconer, once a Western New York powerhouse, has struggled in recent years and is looking to rebound from a 2012 season that saw the Golden Falcons finish with a record of 1-7. Fredonia on the other hand has had one of the strongest teams in the area and was one win away from winning their second Class C title in three years last season.
Fredonia is coming off a strong start to the 2013 season by beating Silver Creek-Forestville 55-8 in Silver Creek. Falconer lost a tough game to Salamanca 12-0 in which Falconer had multiple redzone opportunities but were unable to put any points on the board. The biggest challenge for Fredonia head coach Mike Marshall may be keeping his team from taking Falconer too lightly.
Fredonia’s Matt McCarthy hopes to have another strong day on the ground when his Hillbillies battle Falconer.
"What I try to do is instill in them that we have to play to our level," Marshall said. "We've set the bar so high that we have to be able to perform consistently and not come down to the level of whoever we are competing against."
The Hillbilly defense was able to limit Silver Creek-Forestville to 180 total yards in Week 1 and kept running back Sherman Williams bottled up throughout the game.
"I didn't expect it to go that way," Marshall said. "They have a good running back in Williams. Anybody with his size is definitely a factor to deal with. I think we handled it well and I think conditioning had a little bit to do with the final score."
Conditioning is an advantage that Fredonia will be looking to bring to every game this season. The Hillbillies run an up-tempo, no-huddle offense that will be a major test for Falconer this evening.
"What we're trying to do is have the tempo of the game dictate the conditioning," Marshall said. "There's no specific conditioning drills that we do. What we do is run our offense time and time again and just that pace alone is what gives us our conditioning."
Fredonia brings a quick, tough defense into tonight's matchup. Falconer will have to contend with Fredonia's defensive speed and ferocity that knocked multiple Silver Creek-Forestville players out of the game in the first quarter of their contest.
"We came out hitting pretty well. Our boys have some pretty good technique and fundamentals that we stress throughout the week," Marshall said. "When they came out I think we were pretty hungry. We usually don't hit each other throughout the week. What we do is go through drills. I want to try to make it so that the boys are hungry and ready to hit come game night."
As far as gameplanning goes, Marshall plans on sticking with what works. Fredonia has built an identity as a fast-paced team that looks to challenge the conditioning and discipline of defenses while playing hard-nosed, fundamental defense themselves.
"(Our gameplan) is basically the same type of situation as last week," Marshall said. "What we want to do is run the no huddle. We want to run a fast pace and we want to be able to stop the run and make sure that we are covering the receivers. We have noticed that their left-handed quarterback likes to roll out quite a bit so we want to see how we can handle that as far as coverage is concerned. I'm hoping that our team speed can get to the point of attack quickly and I'm hoping that the way we hit can deter too much offense."
Weston Ley led the Hillbilly offense in Week 1 with 211 total yards and 4 touchdowns. Marshall expects more of the same from Ley against Falconer but is quick to point out that their offense is much more than one player.
"Weston Ley had a really great game but what makes him so dangerous is the people around him like Matt McCarthy, Cody Smith and John Piper," Marshall said. "You get people like that around him who he can get the ball to and they're just as dangerous in the open field and running up the middle as he can be."
Recent history and week one results will count for nothing once the two teams take the field tonight in Falconer. As both teams know, football games aren't won or lost based on reputation.