East side rivalry game all about revenge, atmosphere

J. Patrick Eaken

If you have been to the annual Oil Barrel Trophy game between Clay and Waite, you know that it is a great Friday night atmosphere where the stands are filled at either Mollenkopf Stadium or Clay Memorial Stadium.
        This Friday, it will be played on Clay’s Ted Federici Field.
        “Obviously, being bordering schools basically — it’s a big deal. There are a lot of people who went to Waite who have moved into Oregon, so you have that connection. My dad went to Waite and he coached at Waite and I obviously went to Clay and played in the game and I’ve coached in the game. It certainly means a lot,” Clay coach John Galyas said.
        “There are only a couple games a year we play for a trophy and this is one of them. The rivalry is great for the east side — great for Oregon and great for East Toledo. It’s something that we look forward to every year.”
        Waite coach Brian Lee said, “To me, I can go 10-0, but if I don’t beat Clay, it doesn’t matter. I tell my kids we can’t overlook Clay. Clay has improved since last year and they have a really good young running back.
        “But, other than that, I feel like we return everybody and there is no reason that we shouldn’t go to our ‘home stadium’ over there because that is still the east side. We’re going to treat it like it is a home game and play it to the best of our ability. To me, it’s like Ohio State and Michigan, Toledo versus BG — people really take seriously Clay versus Waite and I do, too.”
        For Clay, it’s about avenging the 30-28 loss to Waite last year at Mollenkopf Stadium.
        “Last year things didn’t go our way so we’re definitely looking forward to it this year, trying to get that Barrel back here. To lose in the last play of the game, I think it won’t take a whole lot to get our guys motivated — that’s for sure. They’ll be pretty focused,” Galyas promises.
        Waite coach Brian Lee says his team has other reasons to be focused, but they also have to do with last year’s game.
        “That game should not have been close like that,” Lee said. “We have to learn how to finish teams and finish drives. There was too many times where we gave Clay big plays. If you look at the game, Clay didn’t really move the ball down the field — they just had really big chunk plays. So, let’s eliminate that.
        “So, with us being at Clay, and we’ve (current players) never beaten Clay at Clay. They got embarrassed the last time we played at Clay, so out kids are going to take that challenge on. And, we’re angry that the game came down to that. We wanted to impress the east side and let them know that we are the big brother.”
        For both teams, it will about containing quarterbacks — senior Javon Pratt at Waite and junior Logan Heintschel at Clay. Both now have one year of experience behind them.
        “It starts with their quarterback — he’s tough,” Galyas said. “We’ve got to contain him, for sure. We know that they are always a tough, hard-nosed team and they going to play really hard, especially in a rivalry game. They are going to be aggressive and we’ve got to be ready to play. We know what we are getting into. It’s going to be a dogfight, but it starts with their quarterback. He’s a good player.”
        As a sophomore, Heintschel completed 54 percent of his passes for 1,639 yards and 15 touchdowns.
         “The main thing Clay has is they return their quarterback and he is phenomenal. He makes all the good throws. Their running back is speedy and that’s always a concern, but they had a great running back (tailback Adam Hummel) last year now at the University of Toledo,” Lee said.
        “I feel like their inexperience with their receiver corps I can be more aggressive and bring more pressure to their quarterback because they only return one lineman. We are returning 19 starters so I feel like with us having the experience and motivation. This is the first time we’ve beat Clay in four years, so let’s beat them two times in a row. We don’t know when the last time was that happened.
        “They are young up front, but one thing about John is he always gets his kids motivated. He’s a phenomenal guy, a phenomenal mentor and as far as coaching, you can’t find a better head coach. John is a good guy, but as far as my kids over here, we’re ready to take that next step. We’re tired of being compared to smaller schools and smaller teams where we should be the juggernaut. We should be the big school.”
        Both coaches have responded to how their team did in their first game. Clay whipped Maumee 49-7 and Waite lost to Sylvania Northview, 22-6. Because of the loss, Lee is making his kids take hour longer practices this week.
        “We lost last week so they have to work,” Lee said. “We are going from 5-8:30 (Wednesday) — normally our practices are from 5-7:30. I let them get home, get some rest, but we lost so we have to do some extra work.”
        Heintschel ran for two touchdowns and passed for another in the Eagles’ blowout win at Kazmaier Stadium.
        “We were turnover free, so Logan is making really good decisions being his second year in the offense,” Galyas said. “He is much more comfortable, he has much better command of it for sure. His decision making has been great — it’s been good all summer so that’s something that is really nice to see. We definitely took our lumps (last year), but it’s paying off this year. The game has slowed down for him and it’s been great to see.
        “Our defense played really well. Offensively, we played well and our special teams — we scored on all three phases of the game. Our defense created turnovers, we put pressure on the quarterback, stopped the run. We were able to run the ball so it’s the best performance we’ve had all around in a while,” Galyas continued.
        “Defensively, we played really tough through our scrimmages and obviously, through the Maumee game. Our guys are flying to the football and you do that on defense, you are going to be alright.”
        One thing both coaches have done well is improve roster numbers. Galyas is a teacher at Clay High, so being in the building gives him access to the hallways, while Lee is a teacher at another TPS building, but he is also involved in the Waite building.
        “We’ve always recruited the hallways and we spend a lot of time at our junior high trying to get guys out. Our sophomore class is really big and we’re excited about our sophomore class. But, you know, this is the most seniors I’ve had since I’ve taken over,” Galyas said.
        “We did get three seniors to come out who haven’t played since junior high — they are really helping us. Last week Derek Bolander caught a touchdown pass, Drew Collins had two real nice catches and long runs — those guys are athletes. Skylar Mays is another guy who hadn’t played, so we have three guys who are really helping us. That’s been awesome. That’s something we are going to continue to do — recruit the hallways.”
        Waite has 85 to 90 players in the high school program this year, and Lee says he just got 10 more freshmen to join the program.
        “The main thing I did was I shut my doors to other kids from other schools. I only lost three kids —one to Northwood, one to Cardinal Stritch and one to Clay, and I got two transfers from Clay. I worked out a back-up quarterback (transfer) — he came and tried out for me and threw the first day, and he said, ‘We’ve never worked this hard.’ I said, ‘Because we want to be state champs,’” Lee said.
        “When you have the numbers, like he (Galyas) has good numbers, it’s great for the program. It’s great for the tradition. We both did not win our leagues, and we both finished about the same, and you want to get over the hump and the first thing you want to do with that is have a good number of kids. So, I want to let you know that the kids believe in me and in John because we do good things with our programs. Over here on the east side, I’m trying to make sure we win.”
        A “Battle for the Barrel” smoker to celebrate the upcoming Oil Barrel Trophy rivalry football game between Waite and Clay will be held Wednesday, Sept. 11 at 7:30 p.m. at Bayside Boardwalk, 2759 Seaman Road, Oregon. Remarks will be made by Clay and Waite head coaches and athletic directors.

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