Tigers begin NCC play at Upper Sandusky
By JON KLEINKNECHT
Inquirer Sports Editor
North Central Conference play begins Friday with the Tigers making a road trip to long-time foe Upper Sandusky.
Galion is fresh off convincing 46–28 drubbing of Keystone last week, while the Rams spanked Mohawk 38–13. The Orange-and-Blue and Upper Sandusky both went 2–1 in the non-conference portion of their schedules.
In what has been a back-and-forth series as far as domination is concerned, the Tigers have beaten the Rams 37 times, lost 33 and tied with them once. Galion has won the last three meetings, including last year’s in Tigertown by a 47–14 margin. Upper Sandusky rattled off eight wins in a row against the Orange-and-Blue from 2001-08.
“He’s their best football player, period,” said Galion head coach Chris Hawkins when asked about Upper Sandusky quarterback Tylor Pritchard. “He’s a big, thick kid with good speed. He’s the person we need to stop.”
He sure is.
The Rams enter Friday night’s battle averaging 27 points a game and yielding a norm of 20. Pritchard has provided the majority of their offense. The standout has completed 41-of-68 passes (60.3$) for 443 yards, 3 touchdowns and has been intercepted 3 times.
When running the ball, Pritchard has amassed 280 yards on 49 carries, an average of 5.7 yards per attempt. He’s scored 6 touchdowns and a 2-point conversion.
“They are running a lot of our stuff,” Hawkins mentioned. “They are a true spread team. In his (Pritchard’s) case, we want him to give the ball all the time. We’re gonna try to limit his rushes as much as possible.”
Other key performer in the first three weeks for Upper Sandusky have been runningback Donald Barth and wide receiver Tristan Reichelderfer. Barth has 137 yards rushing on just 15 carries, a norm of 9.1 stripes per try. He’s also caught 12 passes for a team-best 150 yards and a six-pointer.
Reichelderfer also has a dozen pass receptions that total 126 yards.
When it comes to defense, the Rams won’t be doing anything the Tigers haven’t seen plenty of so far.
“They’re the fourth 4–3 team we have focused,” stated Hawkins. “They will have a hodgepodge of coverages.”
Although the Tigers are averaging 38.3 points a game — just 5 per outing behind last year’s highest scoring squad in school history — Hawkins said there is plenty of room for improvement.
“We’re not as good offensively in week 4 as we were last year,” the sixth-year Galion head coach mentioned. “We need to get better. I told the guys we’re under-achieving on that side of the ball. We’re making too many mistakes.”
The Orange-and-Blue were slapped with more than 100 yards in penalties in last week’s victory.
“Some penalties you can live with,” Hawkins said. “The silly penalties away from the ball, that’s what we have to get rid of. We’ve gotta be more consistent. You typically only run 50–55 plays a game and you can’t afford having penalties 20–25 percent of the time. Not only do you lose the penalty yards, you also lose yards gained.”
Defensively, Galion yields 16.3 points a Friday night. That number is deceiving. Twenty of the 28 points the Orange-and-Blue gave up to Keystone last week were scored against the Tiger reserves.
“We need to create more turnovers,” Hawkins matter-of-factly said. “I believe we’re an average offense that can be great, and I believe we’re an above-average defense that can be great.”
Kickoff is at 7 p.m.