Eagles travel to Findlay to face the Trojans

Yaneek Smith

Press Sports Editor

In this young season, Clay has managed to eke out a 33-32 victory over Sandusky and defeated Northview on the road, holding off the Wildcats to win, 42-35.
But the test the Eagles face in week four when they travel to Findlay to face the Trojans could be its toughest to date.
In the win over Northview, Clay quarterback Mason Heintschel had a stellar performance, completing 22-of-32 of passes for 273 yards and four touchdowns (8, 35, 17, 24). He also rushed 14 times for 123 yards, scoring on runs of eight and 42 yards, respectively, the last of which came on fourth down. In all, three of Clay’s six touchdowns came on fourth downs.
Eagles wide receiver Troy Hazuda caught three touchdowns passes.
The lead fluctuated between seven and 14 points for much of the game as the Wildcats were turned away whenever a big play was made.
“To Northview’s credit, they played well. It was their home opener – we got their best shot, and I was really happy and proud of our guys for how they played and kept battling. It’s not the easiest place to play,” said Clay coach John Galyas. “We knew they would be ready for us; we beat them pretty good last year. The quarterback (Cameron Vargas) got hurt in the first quarter of the first game, so we didn’t have much film on him. He’s pretty good — great at extending plays with his feet, more than anything, and we didn’t know if he was going to play, so it was tough to prepare.”
For the second week in a row, the Eagles put up their fair share of points.
“We have played pretty well. It starts with Mason. He does a great job of spreading the ball around,” said Galyas. “Hudson Byers is leading our team in receiving; he’s done a great job at tight end. Troy Hazuda is right behind him; he’s done a great job. Our offensive line is improving. We lost (running back) Grady Spears for the season. Ivan Burkey and Jake Titgemeyer have to step up.”
The defense has struggled at times, having given up five touchdowns in each game.
“Defensively, we need to be more consistent for sure. We see glimpses of it. We got some stops when we needed it — the first series of the second half, they had all of the momentum and we forced them to go three-and-out and punt,” said Galyas. “We were able to score, to go back up by 14 was big for us. We have some things on special teams that we have to shore up.”
Findlay, which is 1-1, lost to Central Catholic, 47-14, in the opener and rebounded to rout Lima Senior, 43-0, in week two.
In the win over the Spartans, Reese Little caught a 25-yard pass from Ryan Montgomery, giving the Trojans the lead for good at 6-0. Findlay scored three more touchdowns in the first half, one coming on a 70-yard punt return by C.J. Reid-Tisdale, another on a 7-yard run by Matthew Guthrie and one coming on a 45-yard pass from Montgomery to Javonte Hill.
Hill caught a 49-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter and Austin Hasselbach closed out the scoring with a 12-yard touchdown catch.
In 11 meetings as members of the old Three Rivers Athletic Conference, the Trojans won every game, dominating and winning only one by just one possession. Last year, Findlay defeated Clay, 35-14, racing out to a 21-0 lead before the Eagles cut the deficit to seven points behind touchdown runs from Heintschel and Kale Wilkins, only to see the Trojans finish the game on a 14-0 spurt.
Findlay jumped out to a 6-0 lead after the first quarter on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Montgomery to Brady Allen. Dallas DeLaCruz scored on a 5-yard touchdown run, and the lead was pushed to 14 points when Little caught the conversion pass from Montgomery. DeLaCruz, who finished with 21 carries for 262 yards, scored on an 80-yard run to open the second half, and he closed out the scoring with a 10-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
It was something of a sloppy game as both teams combined for 28 penalties, worth a total of nearly 350 yards. Galyas talked about the Findlay program.
They’re going to be good. With them, it starts with their quarterback. He makes plays, he can make all the throws, he’s great at extending the play, kind of like our guy can. He doesn’t have all those (collegiate) FBS offers for nothing,” Galyas said. “They have a couple of good receivers; one guy made an incredible catch on TV. In week one against Central, one guy made a one-handed catch and went up and got it. I know defensively, they’ve got a defensive end that’s got some Division I offers. Going down there is never easy, either – it’s a tough environment, a tough game for us.”
Both teams are now in the NLL, which is home to 11 schools, with the Trojans in the Buckeye Division and the Eagles in the Cardinal Division. (The Buckeye Division has the six largest schools in the league.)


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