Carson Smith weaves his way through the Fairfield Christian defense during Week 3 of the season. Smith will be an important tool for the Wildcats as they take on the MOAC defending champs Clear Fork this week.
The Wildcats are a team on a football mission. That mission is to knock off the defending Mid Ohio Athletic Conference champions Clear Fork.
With league play starting this week, the Cat’s will have that opportunity as they face the Colts on Friday.
North Union head coach Nick Hajjar realizes the challenge ahead, but has a fairly straightforward view of the battle to come.
“They (Clear Fork) are the defending champs until someone knocks them off,” he said.
The Wildcats will have their hands full with a team that also boasts a 3-0 record with victories over Jonathan Alder, Bellevue and Fredericktown.
“They are really good again this year, even though they graduated a lot of seniors,” said Hajjar. “They kind of reloaded and it’s not necessarily a rebuild. I know they play hard.
“They are big, fast and physical. It is going to be a tough challenge to go over there and get a win.”
That big, fast and physical play will be felt on both sides of the ball as the Colts will utilize a versatile offense that plays out of the shotgun and will use a lot of motion to catch NU on their heels, according to Hajjar.
“Almost every play is with an empty backfield or two and one-back stuff with a lot of jet play and motion,” he said. “They have a heavy balance with run and pass plays with that jet motion.”
The Colts will also use two quarterbacks, Jared Schaefer and Brennan South. Schaefer is the senior of the two and has had more success through the air, collecting more than 200 yards and four touchdowns.
Both QBs, however, bring a similar style of play to the field.
“Both can run and throw the ball,” Hajjar said. “They are not totally different when one versus the other is in the game.”
On the defensive side of the field, Clear Fork will bring the same formation as itdid last year with a variation of lineman and linebackers.
Hajjar believes his offense’s success will rest on its ability to “understand what we are seeing and execute the best way we can.”
Some of that success will rest on the shoulders of the stable of running backs Hajjar will call upon to carry the ball.
Trevor Moran currently leads the MOAC in rushing yards (461) and touchdowns (eight). He is backed up by Carson Smith, who is fourth on the list with 343 yards and seven TDs.
Not only will the Colts have to contend with North Union’s ground game, but also Hajjar’s effort to bring more balance to his offense.
Clear Fork will face the fourth best quarterback in the MOAC in Anthony Padovano. Padovano went only two-for-two last week, but threw for 80 yards and a touchdown.
He is completing more than 60 percent of his passes.
“Anthony is throwing the ball very well this year,” Hajjar said. “Guys are making catches, so we are going to continue to be who we are.”
Hajjar is calling this week the team’s biggest challenge to date, but believes the Wildcats’ focus is completely on the task at hand.
“I think they are ready to go,” he said. “On Saturdays we watched a little of our game from Friday night and were able to get into this week’s opponent and they were locked in in that film session.
“They know what is at stake,” he said. “They have worked hard and they want to be in these types of games.”
With a game of this magnitude, Hajjar understands that it will take his team four quarters of solid play to win.
“It is going to be a four-quarter affair,” he said. “It is going to be the most physical and fastest team that we have played all year. We just need to have a great week of practice and get ready to go.”
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