By Rob Kiser
Call Sports Editor
Piqua is hoping to kick the high school football season off with a bang at 7 p.m. tonight.
Especially, given who will be watching when the Indians host Toledo St. John’s at Alexander Stadium/Purk Field.
Piqua’s five NFL legends — Craig Clemons, Matt Finkes, Dave Gallagher, Quinn Pitcock, Brandon Saine — are being honored at the game and will be in attendance.
“We have a lot going on this weekend,” Piqua football coach Bill Nees said. “It would be great to come out and get the season off to a great start.”
The Titans have a storied history — having made 11 playoff appearances and finishing as state runnerup in 2003.
And while St. John’s is coming off a 2-8 season — Piqua fans should not be fooled.
“This is a good football team,” Nees said. “There were a couple factors in their record last year. They played two playoff teams and Brother Rice (Mich.) non-conference — I am sure Piqua fans remember Brother Rice. And they played in a strong league (Three Rivers Conference) that included a lot of strong teams. Toledo Central Catholic and Lima Senior are in that league.”
The Titans will have a new look on offense.
“They have changed offenses throughout the years,” Nees said. “They will be running an option offense — out of a four wide receiver, pistol look.”
Nees expects that to present a challenge.
“The thing you have to deal with when you go against that offense is to not get sucked in on a fake and getting beat deep,” Nees said. “They have good balance with the run and the pass.”
Defensively, not much has changed for the Titans over the years.
“They have traditionally played a 4-3, cover-two defense,” Nees said. “They won’t blitz a whole lot. They are just real solid and come after you. They like to use press coverage, so that is going to be a challenge for our receivers to be able to get off the ball and into their routes.”
St. John’s played Sylvania Southview and Perrysburg in the pre-season.
“We have beefed up our scrimmage schedule and they (Toledo St. John’s) play a real strong scrimmage schedule.”
Piqua features a lot of weapons at the skill positions on offense — led by 2,000-yard rusher Trent Yeomans.
“On offense, we want to be consistent and avoid negative plays,” Nees said.
Defensively, it is about avoiding the big plays — which Piqua should be able to do owith more than half the starters returning on that side of the ball.
“Statistically, we have given up a lot of big plays the last couple years,” Nees said. “So, one of the things we have talked about is keeping the play in front of us. If someone is going to score on us, at least make them earn it.”
And if all goes well, kick off the season with a bang.