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Testing their mettle: Kennedy Eagles ready for tough matchup with Mogadore

Staff photo / Brian Yauger Kennedy quarterback Caleb Hadley runs against the Garfield G-Men during their matchup earlier this season.

WARREN — The Kennedy Eagles haven’t played a Friday night lights matchup in 13 days.

But they’ve been using their time wisely.

After topping Conneaut Area (PA) 66-0 on Sept. 10, the Eagles’ matchup last week against Fairport Harding got canceled due to COVID-19 within the Fairport Harding program. But the Eagles didn’t sit back and relax, they just got back to work.

“We used that bye week to go back to the basics and get back to the fundamentals of the game again,” Kennedy coach Dom Prologo said. “It obviously helped us get a little healthier as well. I certainly would have rather played a game but the fact that we had a week off, we used it and got back to where we were the first week of doubles. You work on the blocking, the tackling, taking the correct steps, the correct hand placement. Just all the little things that you might not get a chance to address during a regular game week.”

It couldn’t have come at a better time for the Eagles either.

They started off the season with a 48-6 victory over Champion and then topped Western Reserve 44-28 after taking a 26-0 halftime lead. The Eagles then dropped their only contest of the season, a 28-14 loss to Garfield before their win over Conneaut.

Their loss to Garfield taught them a lot and Prologo was able to take things away from that game and apply them to practice over the past week as well.

“I didn’t like the way that we handled the adversity against Garrettsville (Garfield).” Prologo said. “We put our kids in some real tough situations last week and tried to talk to them about how they are supposed to handle those adverse situations. I think that was really good for us. We have good leadership and we were able to see the little things that we were able to perfect. We just didn’t handle adversity well in that game.”

Now, the Eagles turn their attention to one of their biggest matchups of the season, a battle with a storied program in Mogadore that hasn’t missed the playoffs since 1999.

“We know all about their program, we know the storied history of it and we know they are one of the best Division 6 programs in the state year in and year out,” Prologo said. “This year is no different. So for our kids this is a barometer game as far as I’m concerned, as far as where we are right now. Are we a team that can make a run in the playoffs?”

The Wildcats lost their only game of the season to Akron Manchester on Sept. 3 but have played well otherwise. They opened the season with a shutout victory over Field, then topped Byesville Meadowbrook before suffering their only loss.

They handled Lyndhurst Brush 23-9 on Sept. 10 and then are coming into Friday’s matchup after beating Louisville Aquinas 41-6 last Friday.

The Wildcats have averaged 31 points per game this season but when it comes to their matchup, Prologo believes it will come down to one thing.

“That’s the line of scrimmage,” Prologo said. “Whoever wins the line of scrimmage. That’s what I’ve been preaching to our kids all week and our coaches. This is a line of scrimmage ball game and we’re going to win this game up front or we’re going to lose this game up front. When you play games like this, when there’s a little more attached to it than a Week 6 game, turnovers become a huge factor as well.”

Winning the line of scrimmage is something that the Eagles have always taken pride in. Their offensive and defensive lines are the heart of their team and they take pride in matchups like this.

Despite having guys like Patrick Valent (6’4, 280 pounds), Sammi Hindi (6’2 285 pounds) and Will Toth (6’1, 245) across the offensive line, the Eagles are the smaller team on occasion and Prologo said this will be a great test to prove what they are made of.

“I’m a big guy on challenging guys and that’s the challenge for them,” Prologo said. “It’s ‘Hey, if you are who you think you are, and who I think you are then you need to control the game.’ Fortunately, that’s where our leadership comes from, our offensive and defensive lines, so I’m excited about the challenge that tomorrow (Friday) night poses. Our kids are excited, I’m excited. I think it’s going to be a great atmosphere and I think it’s going to be a heck of a ball game I hope.”

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