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Hillsdale Falcons High School Athletics



Hillsdale Challenges Unbeaten Dalton

Hillsdale is at Dalton to face the unbeaten and Wayne County Athletic League leading Bulldogs on Friday night.

They trail Dalton by two games with two to play in the league standings, but this game may be more important when it comes to the playoffs. The Falcons (6-2,3-2) are currently seventh in their division six computer region. They must finish in the top eight. Dalton leads theirs in division seven and a win would mean a boatload of points.

Last week, Hillsdale survived (28-27) in beating Chippewa in a league game.

Coach Tom Williams says the defense saved their bacon. “We definitely hung on for dear life. We didn’t have the ball very much in the second half. It was tied 14-14 at halftime. In the second half we only got one first down. We had a couple of big plays. We threw a touchdown pass and we returned a punt for a touchdown for our two touchdowns. Our defense hung in there,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They had the ball on the march a little and we had a couple of tackles for loss and a couple of big plays defensively and were able to get an interception and get out of there.”

Williams says Dalton is a very consistent team. He says they just don’t make many mistakes. “That would be a good way to explain what Dalton is. They are very consistent. Week in and week out you know exactly what you are going to get, which is good line play, their backs take care of the ball, they run hard. Defensively, they are very sound. They know their gap assignment. They are not real fancy. They do their jobs very, very well,” he said.

Dalton (8-0,5-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the small school division, beat Smithville (33-22) last week. They lead Norwayne by a game in the league standings.

Williams says the Bulldogs want to pound it at you while they are going to need some chunk plays in order to be successful. “Dalton would definitely like this to be an old fashion football game. For us, we are going to need some big plays. That’s just not our style to be able to march it in five yards at a pop down the field. This year our thing has been some bigger plays and we are going to need some of those big plays if we are going to have success against these guys,” said Williams.

In this game Dalton is the favorite and Williams says they kind of like it that way. “For us you look forward to a game like this. It is also fun for us to be the underdog. Normally we are kind of usually even or we are kind of favorite in a lot of games here lately. To have a game where we are expected to be the underdog is kind of a neat thing for our kids and it is something we are kind of excited about,” he said.

Published 10/18/17

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Hillsdale With Must Win Games

Hillsdale, now two games back in the Wayne County Athletic League, with three games to play is going to need some help to win a piece of the league title, but they can help themselves in terms of the playoffs.

They are tenth in their division six region going into this week. They will need to finish in the top eight to qualify for the post season and that will likely require three more wins.

The Falcons (5-2,2-2) lost a tough one (28-21) to Norwayne last week in league play.

It was one of those games where both teams played well and you hate to see somebody have to lose and coach Tom Williams says unfortunately last week it was them. “Our guys played extremely hard in that game. I thought both teams played pretty well. Sometimes you play those close games and one of the teams is going to end up on the wrong end. For us last week that’s what happened,” he said.

They host Chippewa (3-4,2-2) this week in league play. Williams says it is pretty much a must win game for the Falcons. “We need to bounce back this week against Chippewa. They are a solid team. They have some good linemen and backs that run hard and all that kind of good stuff,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We just need to find way to get a “W” this week and it will come down to the last two weeks with Dalton and Smithville, some teams that we have had some battles with over the years. We are hoping that is exciting for us.”

Chippewa beat Smithville (24-21) last week in another good game in the competitive “WCAL” and Williams says they Chips have played really well in parts of their games this year. “I’ll tell you what when you watch them on film they are able to do some things offensively and defensively really well at times. They are probably looking for that consistency that probably most of us coaches are,” he said.

Published 10/10/17

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Hillsdale Must Rise to Physical Challenge

Hillsdale likely faces its most difficult test of the season this Friday as they travel to Norwayne to take on the Bobcats, the defending Wayne County Athletic League champs.

Both teams trail Dalton by a game in the league standings.

The Falcons (5-1,2-1) responded to their only loss of the season on week five to Northwestern (22-20) to hammer Rittman (48-14) last week.

Coach Tom Williams says they executed very well on both sides of the ball last Friday. “We were able to execute offensively really well. We threw the ball around and our receivers made some plays in space, but usually to have that happen the line has to play well and the line did a really good job of protecting Trey last week,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “Defensively we got a lot of three and outs in that game and that is something we have really been trying stress, you know, getting off the field. We were having a little bit of trouble with that for a few games. It was nice to see us get some three and outs and get the offense back out on the field quickly.”

Quarterback Trey Williams, the son of the coach, accounted for six scores against Rittman. Coach Williams agrees that things are different coaching Trey and his younger son Ty. “It is different because usually if we disagree about something on the field that is something we are going to end up talking about once we get home, where as the other players don’t have to hear about it again and again. He is handling it pretty well and my younger one seems to be handling it okay. I think there is a little added pressure there when your dad is the head coach. Some of the people that get upset at me maybe they are also taking it out on the boys as well a little bit,” said coach Williams.

Norwayne (5-1,2-1) also lost week five to Dalton (27-21,) but came back last week to thrash previously unbeaten Smithville (31-6) in league play.

Williams says the Bobcats are physical and they have kids that make big plays. “They are big and physical. They have a lot of strong kids that play really hard, so they are able to run the football and stop the run. Their quarterback has made some plays running and he has made some really nice passes. They have some receivers that can make some big plays as well. They put a lot of pressure on you. I think they are one of the best lines we have seen to this point,” he said.

In order to have success Friday night, Williams says they have to be physical and not back down from the Bobcats. “Last year, they were a pretty senior laden team, so it was like you didn’t know what to expect. Their guys have worked really hard in the off season, you can tell, and they have gotten prepared and gotten ready to play. They are going to put some pressure on us and we need to make sure we are up to that challenge and that we don’t back down and we show up and get after them just like they are going to get after us,” said Williams.

Published 10/02/17

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Hillsdale Faces Rittman

With a loss last week, the Hillsdale Falcons have fallen a game behind the co-leaders in the tough and balanced Wayne County Athletic League.

They host Rittman this week in a conference game.

Last week, they lost at Northwestern (22-20) in game where coach Tom Williams thinks they just made a few too many mistakes. “I thought Northwestern kids played extremely hard as I knew they would. They played well. Both teams had some mistakes, but it seemed like ours cost us a little bit more maybe than theirs did,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We put the ball on the ground a little bit, which we hadn’t done the first four games and it came back to bite us a little bit. We just didn’t finish off some of our drives as well as we would have liked.”

Turnovers have not really been a problem overall for the Falcons and Williams says they have to get back to where they were before last week against Northwestern. “You have to really limit your turnovers, which we have. We have had only six turnovers on the season at this point. So, if you are only averaging one turnover a game, a little over, that’s pretty good. It just happened a few of them where all in one game and that came back to bite us,” he said.

Hillsdale (4-1,1-1) plays host to Rittman (2-3,0-2) this week. Williams expects the Indians to try and run the ball against them. “They are the same kind of thing they have a lot of tough kids. They are playing a lot of guys both ways, they don’t have a ton of depth. They have been able to run the ball with a little bit of success in the air. Defensively they are just pretty aggressive, so we will have to do a good job staying on blocks,” said Williams.

Published 9/26/17

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Hillsdale Takes on Northwestern

Hillsdale is one of four teams in the Wayne County Athletic League with unbeaten records through four weeks of the season. They play at Northwestern on Friday night in a league game.

Norwayne, Dalton, and Smithville are the other unbeatens.

Hillsdale (4-0,1-0) beat Waynedale (39-16) in the league opener last week.

Coach Tom Williams says they were able to make some big plays at the right times. “We played pretty well, we just had some breakdowns in the first half that just kept the game a little closer than it should have been. We let them convert a couple of fourth downs and a couple of third and longs that got us in a little bit of trouble. We played a little bit better in the second half and we were able to kind of pull away. Trace Stiltner had a big game for us with three touchdowns and he scored in three different ways, which is pretty cool,” he said.

Coaches talk about consistent execution, but many times high school football games are won by the team that can make the big plays. Williams says they have been able to do that. “We had a couple of crazy plays in that game. Trace had an 82-yard punt return. We go out and get a three and out stop at the beginning of the second half and they punt it to us and he runs in back 82 yards. In many ways that ended the game, so it was a big play,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “For him we had a little swing pass, he catches it, their guy has a chance to knock it down and he doesn’t and he is gone, 40 yards for a touchdown. That change of hey you are able to knock a pass down to hey we caught it and it is gone for a touchdown, what a big change in momentum.”

Northwestern (1-3,0-1) lost at Smithville (27-14) last week in their conference opener. They have also lost tough ones to Black River (21-13) and Columbia (26-21) in non-conference play. Their win comes over Loudonville (42-7) in their opener.

Williams says the Huskies are better than that record probably indicates at first glance. “They are a good football team. They have some tough kids and they used to winning games over there, so we will have our hands full. They just have a tough group of kids over there and we will have our hands full. They have one touchdown games against a couple really good football teams,” he said.

Published 9/20/17

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Hillsdale Concerned with Getting Better

Hillsdale has played three pretty good football games this year, but they might not have reached their potential yet.

Last week, they beat Loudonville (27-10) to improve to (3-0) on the season. They play at Waynedale (0-3) in the Wayne County League opener for both schools on Friday night.

Coach Tom Williams is most happy with the effort they have been getting from the players. “I am really happy with our guys. They are playing extremely hard. They are giving us everything they have each and every Friday night. They have been prepared for each game. The kids have shown up focused and ready to go. We are excited that that is what they are giving us. On the same token we have seen a lot of things we can do a little better. If we can find a way to keep getting better week after week we think we have a good opportunity to have a pretty good season,” said Williams.

Yes, unbeaten teams still have to get better. Williams wants better fundamental execution, especially on the offensive side of the ball. “For us we are still stressing the fundamentals. We still have some guys that are still stepping with the right foot or doing their assignment exactly how it’s been taught, so we are still working on some of those things. For us we missed some opportunities last week offensively that could have been some big plays. We are just not clicking perfect there. We are still trying to find some ways to get better on the offensive side of things,” he said.

Waynedale lost (41-14) to Wooster Triway last week. They were (1-9) last year and Williams says they are clearly improved. “Waynedale has more kids out this year and a new head coach. They are trying to build some excitement down there. They have some veteran kids that have played some football, a few on the line, a couple backs that are that are a couple of the better athletes in the league. We will have our hands full against those guys,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Traditionally we haven’t had a whole lot of success against Waynedale, so this is a game that we are focusing on and trying to make sure that at the end of the week we are still in first place.”

Williams adds the always want to play like they are the underdog in the game, rather if they are or not. “For our kids we just feel like we have the opportunity to be a pretty good football team and they just want to go out and prove that to people each and every week. So, as long as they keep that chip on their shoulder then I think we have a chance to do something pretty cool,” he said.

Published 9/13/17

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Hillsdale With Another Non-Conference Rivalry

Hillsdale meets another non-conference rival this week as they host Loudonville on Friday night.

The Falcons has opened the season playing well the first two weeks with wins over Mapleton (49-21) on week one and Crestview (22-14) last Friday.

Coach Tom Williams thought they put together a pretty good overall effort against the Cougars. “I thought overall we played a really good game. We still had a few breakdowns in all three phases that we still have to get ironed out, but overall saw some good improvement from week one to week two,” said Williams.

Despite two solid efforts, Williams says he told the kids on Monday not to be satisfied and their goal should be to get better every day. “We talked (Monday) about ways to continue to find ways to get better every day. Each player on our team, each coach on our staff gets a little bit better then the whole team gets better,” he said.

Loudonville (0-2) has lost to Northwestern (42-7) in game one and Chippewa (31-28) on game two.

Williams says they have some tough kids that can make some plays on both sides of the ball. He says they will have to be warry of the blitz. “They are just a tough team. Being a rivalry game that always adds some intrigue to it. They have an athletic quarterback that cam make plays both running and passing. They have a couple of receivers that can hurt you in the open space,” he told Swankonsports.com on Labor Day, “Defensively they have a lot of tough kids. They blitz a lot and cause some havoc in the backfield, so we have to make sure we do a good job picking up the blitz.”

When the other team tries to blitz you it is going to be a big play either way. Williams says they want to take advantage of their opportunities to make big gainers. “For us the blitz is an opportunity for a big play for us offensively, but they have to make sure everybody is doing their job and that is what we really have to work on this week,” said Williams

Published 9/05/17

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Hillsdale Faces Physical Opponent

Hillsdale scored four times in the fourth quarter last week to beat Mapleton and now they travel to Crestview to take on the physical Cougars on week two of the season.

Tied going to the fourth quarter, the Falcons exploded to pound Mapleton (49-21) in their first game of the season.

Coach Tom Williams says they were able to take advantage of some things. “It was a great game. We went back and forth for the first three quarters. We were able to get a turnover right before the end of the third quarter and we capitalized on that and we were able to get a few more turnovers in the fourth quarter and kind of pull away,” home said.

It was (21-14) Hillsdale after the first quarter last week and Williams says on defense they must find some ways to be more focused. “The biggest thing for us defensively we didn’t do a very good job reading our keys. So, we have got to a better job getting our eyes in the right place,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “If you get caught looking in the backfield a lot those quarterbacks and running backs are usually pretty good at carrying out their fakes. So, it is important for us to read the guys we are supposed to be reading and getting to the football.”

Crestview lost a tough one on week one when Northmor’s Demetrius Johnson scored all three touchdowns for the Golden Knights and they beat Crestview (21-14) last week.

However, Williams says the Cougars are very good and have a lot of experience in their lineup. “They have a veteran team. They have a lot of guys with varsity experience. A lot of seniors, so it will be a great test for us. They are a pretty physical team with big kids. So, we will find out how physical we can be,” he said.

He says Crestview wants to run it, but they do it in a variety of ways and they are a good play action team. “They run it at you. They run some option. The quarterback does a pretty good job with that. Then they try to lull you to sleep and try and get the big play through the air. So, it is important for us to be disciplined in our assignments,” said Williams.

Published 8/30/17

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Hillsdale Starts With Mapleton

Ashland County rivals Hillsdale and Mapleton meet in non-conference play at Hillsdale on Friday night in the season opener for both schools.

The Falcons have done some good things in the preseason, but coach Tom Williams says you never really have a test until they turn the lights on and somebody wins and somebody loses. “You just never know what your team is going to be yet. You have seen them in practice, you have seen a couple of scrimmages, you feel like you have a pretty good idea, but boy I have had years where ended up having a completely different identity than I thought we would going into the season,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “So, getting out there and playing that first game kind of starts to set that identity and especially after the first couple of weeks you are who you are at least to some degree.”

As much as you may want to Williams says there are never any good gauges for what that first Friday night is going to be like. He says the kids just have to go through it. “It is a learning process and it and he can’t get experience without actually playing the games. So, no matter how much we work on it in practice, no matter how much we work on it in a scrimmage, it is still not game speed, it still not Friday night under the lights with everybody there, so until you have done it on a Friday night and run through a tunnel and band has played the fight song and all of that kind of stuff it is still not the same,” said Williams.

Logan Pharmer is now in his third year as the Mapleton quarterback and Williams says he can put up some big numbers with players he has around him. The Hillsdale coach says it will be a test for their defense. “Their quarterback is fantastic. He is a three year starter and he is only going into to his junior year. They have some guys that can run and catch it and make plays in the open field. They return a lot of their linemen, so they are a good test here early on to kind of find out where we are at. I know our guys are pretty excited about it,” he said.

Published 8/25/17

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