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Rivalry night: Howland battles WGH

September 6, 2013
By MIKE McLAIN - Tribune Chronicle (mmclain@tribtoday.com) , Underthelights

The message was clear this week for the Warren G. Harding Raiders football team.

It was something that the Howland Tigers could also use as a reminder of what happens when turnovers get out of control.

The Raiders lost four fumbles and had one pass intercepted in a 48-0 loss to the Austintown Fitch Falcons last Friday. Raiders coach Steve Arnold spent much of this week making sure the same thing doesn't happen when the Tigers visit Mollenkopf Stadium tonight.

"You can't give a team five touchdowns and not make them earn it," Arnold said. "We didn't have any momentum. We didn't allow our players to feed off our crowd because we didn't do anything. We can't put our defense in those types of situations and give away five touchdowns."

One of the fumbles came on a high shotgun snap that sailed over the head of quarterback Lamar Carmichael and into the end zone. Another fumble was recovered by the Falcons at the Raiders' 3.

The run of turnovers resonated loud and clear about five miles down East Market Street in Howland. Tigers first-year coach Dominic Menendez made sure to tell his players about the importance of protecting the football.

"Not to take away anything from Fitch, but when you turn the ball over five times it's hard to win," Menendez said. "That team won't show up Friday night."

Arnold believes that Menendez is correct.

"I'm confident that my coaching staff, myself and the kids will respond Friday night," Arnold said.

The Tigers opened the season with a 16-0 win over Akron Kenmore. Running back Jaquore Marrs had a big day, rushing for 250 yards on 28 carries. He scored both of Howland's touchdowns, including a run of 95 yards.

"Kenmore is a good team. They will win some games," Menendez said. "We were fortunate Jaquore Marrs had a big night and broke some tackles. Hats off to him."

This will be the fourth straight meeting between the neighboring rivals. The Tigers won the first two games, with the Raiders winning 34-0 last season to give Arnold his first win as a head coach.

Although Menendez attended Ursuline High School, he's well aware of the importance the communities place on this game.

"We played Harding in the day and it's always been a rivalry for me personally," Menendez said. "Ursuline and Harding was a big game. Now I'm at Howland, and it's a big game. I know a lot about their storied tradition. They have one of the best programs in the state of Ohio."

Last season the Raiders lost to Fitch in the opener before reeling off nine straight wins in earning a Division I playoff berth. It's too early for Arnold to begin counting computer points to see if Harding can afford a second loss.

"This is a very important game," Arnold said. "We need to come out and play well and win this game. As a head coach that's why the last game was disturbing. The previous week we scrimmaged St. Ed's and played well. To come out seven days later and play like we did was a shock.

"I told the kids, 'Part of you has to leave that nasty taste in our mouths and part has to let it go and move on. The only way you can redeem yourself is to get back out on Friday night - and as a player you can't wait to get back out there.' "