Boys Varsity Football · Rangers look forward to rivalry game


James Walker

Nearly all football coaches use a ‘Next man in’ philosophy when it comes to dealing with injuries.

However, there isn’t much of a blueprint for dealing with the loss of a team’s starting quarterback, running back, wide receiver and one of its best offensive linemen, but that soon could change thanks to the situation the North Rangers are facing following several key injuries.

“No excuses,” said North coach Shawn Dodd following a 53-20 loss to Kenston on Friday. “Next man up. We’ve just got to get ready for the next one.”

That next one is a big one considering the Rangers will host rival Willoughby South on Friday.

North played at Kenston without starting quarterback Jimmy Arnold, starting running back Brett Payne, starting wide receiver Justin Fair and top lineman Ethan Spoth.

The Rangers will line up against South with either Corey Smith or Dylan Froelich at quarterback in place of Arnold, who was lost for the year with his injury.

Smith and Froelich combined at Kenston to complete 5-of-6 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown and also ran for 71 yards on 15 carries with two scores.

“We worked them both in,” Dodd said. “That was part of the game plan going in. They both worked hard all summer and they were part of a three-man competition for the job. We thought we could take a look at different things. They both have different strengths and are two different styles of players but I don’t know who it’s going to be (against South).”

Dodd isn’t a fan of rotating quarterbacks.

“I’m kind of old school on that,” he said.

James Walker replaced Payne and ran for 111 yards on 19 carries. He again could see the bulk of the carries if Payne isn’t ready to go on Friday.

“That’s just a special football player,” Dodd said of Walker. “He’d play a bigger role if we didn’t have Brett Payne in the program. James Walker is a talented kid and we have him for a couple more years. I was very impressed with how he ran the football. To get 100 yards against that team is saying a lot.”

For North, the starting lineup may look a bit different than it was supposed to heading into rivalry week, but the goal remains to knock off the Rebels for the first time since 2003.

“That’s a big one,” Dodd said. “Rivalries are fun. I expect there to be a ridiculous amount of people there. It’s just a great, fun rivalry. Obviously, we want to win and they want to win. I look forward to the challenge.”