EDON — The Edon football team started its season 1-3 after a murderers’ row of four straight road games. The three teams the Bombers lost to would go on to a combined 25-5 record on the year. Edon was on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, and the players knew they would have to run the table in order to reach Week 11.
They ran the table and then some, winning each of their last six games by an average of 39 points per game, nestling into the No. 7 seed in Division VII’s Region 26 heading into the playoffs, setting up a date with No. 2-seeded Norwalk St. Paul on Saturday night.
“We’ve conditioned ourselves throughout the year by playing tough opponents to prepare ourselves to go against teams like (St. Paul),” Edon coach Scott Staten said. “I think adversity and resiliency is the brand of our team this year. Our kids have faced so many different entities on the field and off the field. Our kids have been able to face all of those, and I think it says a lot about what we’re trying to do as a program.”
The Bombers’ offensive output has been an integral part of the team’s second-half resurgence. Edon has scored no less than 36 points in a game during its six-game winning streak, averaging 46.3 points per game over that stretch.
Sophomore quarterback Drew Gallehue has settled into his role leading the offense. During the Bombers’ six-game win streak, Gallehue has completed 63.9% of his passes for 1,002 yards and a 23-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He had at least four touchdown passes in all but one of those games.
While Gallehue is only a sophomore, the playoff matchup against St. Paul will be his 21st career start. Staten said that experience gives him an edge as a starting quarterback.
“If you think about the bigger schools, some of those kids don’t get to play until their junior year, so a junior at a bigger school might only have seven, eight, nine starts underneath his belt, whereas our guy, this will be his 21st,” Staten said. “It’s still a work in progress, but he’s a tremendous athlete. He’s a sponge, always wants to learn and get better. He’s got all the tools we need in a quarterback.”
St. Paul enters the tournament as the No. 2 seed following an 8-2 season. The Flyers breezed their way through their first seven games, winning all seven by a combined score of 276-26. But St. Paul stumbled across the finish line, losing two of its final three games — a 41-35 overtime loss to Division VI, Region 22 top seed Collins Western Reserve and a 13-0 shutout home loss to Monroeville, only the Eagles’ third win on the season.
Staten said he expects a playstyle similar to the one he saw during Edon’s Week 2 loss to Edgerton, where St. Paul will stack the box and try to control the line of scrimmage and the clock with its power running game led by seniors Justin Butler and Cam Caizzo.
St. Paul’s rocky finish, combined with what Edon senior Shane Zulch called “the best week of practice we’ve had in awhile,” has the Bombers liking their chances to pull off the upset.
“It’s been a while since any Edon team has been in this position,” Zulch said. “We have to carry on the tradition. The first four weeks are always the toughest for us. We faced a lot of adversity, but it seems like we always come out decent in the end.”
Edon will be without two key members, seniors Connor Skiles and Austin Kiess. The two seniors were ejected from last Friday’s 61-8 win over Stryker for allegedly throwing punches at an opposing player laying on the ground. Per OHSAA rules, Skiles and Kiess will both have to sit out the Week 11 game, but could come back should Edon advance further into the postseason. Skiles took to Twitter to deny punches were thrown, but the OHSAA does not have a formal appeal process.
“We’re standing behind those kids 100%,” Staten said. “They’re solid kids. They’re kids of good character. They’re a big part of our program. We’re looking to go out and get a win so those two seniors get another chance to play high school football. As a program, as human beings, we’re doing everything we can to make sure the last reps of those two young men’s careers aren’t at Stryker.”