It’s Indiana vs. Michigan. It’s inner city against rural. It’s Hornets vs. Hornets.
The Mendon football team, ranked No. 2 in Division 8, found a solution for its Week 4 void and hosts Gary Lew Wallace Academy (1-1) tonight at Schwartz Field. By Michigan standards, Lew Wallace would be considered a Class B school with roughly 750 students. The school beat Cassopolis last week 30-27 in Gary.
Mendon head coach John Schwartz said the deal, which filled out his program’s schedule to nine games, was done about three weeks ago, getting Wallace’s information from Cassopolis. Mendon trounced Cassopolis 53-7 on Sept. 6 and blew out Edgerton (Ohio) 41-6 last week.
Junior tailback Mitchell Coler was lost for the year after damaging ligaments in his right knee against Edgerton. Coler went to Kalamazoo for an MRI Wednesday, but the massive amount of swelling prevented doctors from seeing the full extent of the injury. It is believed that both the medial collateral and anterior cruciate ligaments were badly torn.
“They postponed the MRI until next Wednesday,” Schwartz said. “By looking at it and feeling it, they couldn’t feel his ACL. They think it’s completely gone. They think the MCL is also torn. It’s not one of those where he’s going to come back this year.”
Schwartz admitted he’s kind of puzzled as to which players will fill in for Coler. Junior Elijah Klepper is still dealing with a deep thigh bruise and only played half the game last week. He wasn’t available for most of this week’s practices.
“We tried to use him last week and he only lasted about a half before it tightened up on him,” Schwartz said. “We have [junior Brandon] Bray and [senior Danny] Cleveland, an one of our tight ends, Kaleb McCarroll (senior), and giving them reps back there. We’ll just have to figure something out.”
Scouting Lew Wallace
The team returns eight starters (four on offense, four on defense), including senior quarterback/receiver Darius Mahome, who had 624 receiving yards in 2012. He also led the team with seven interceptions at the free safety position and won the 400-meter sectional race this past spring. Running back/strong safety Larry Lee brings blazing speed and can break the game wide open on both sides of the ball.
“They run the spread,” Schwartz said. “They’re quick; they have a couple kids that seem to do most of their work offensively. They’ll be anywhere from the backfield to quarterback to receiver. They kind of move them around. We have to be aware of where those two kids are all the time. They’re fast; we won’t catch them.”
Schwartz really doesn’t know what to expect from Wallace, other than he anticipates a 50-50 split between the run and the pass.
“I don’t know. They played Cassopolis last week and won that game by three,” he said. “I don’t know. You watch techniques on the line and some of the things they’re doing and think you’re going to be all right. Then all of the sudden they break one for 60 [yards]. It’s a matter of us running our alleys and making tackles … pretty much gang tackling. I don’t see a lot of one-on-one tackling with these two kids running the ball. We just don’t know a lot about them.”
Big Boys & Defensive Speed
Schwartz credits the play of Mendon’s offensive line and the speed in which his defensive players are attacking for the program’s turbulence-free start this year.
“Our kids on defense are aggressive and running downhill,” he said. “They know what their assignments are. That’s pretty typical of Mendon. We work hard on offensive line blocking and defense.”
The goal still is to throw the ball more with junior quarterback Jordan Medich continuing to improve each week.
“I think we’ve been sacked once and there have been two hurries,” Schwartz added. “Not bad.”
Senior defensive end/outside linebacker Kyle Wiswell (6-foot, 190 pounds) has had a nose for the ball this season and is used in a variety of ways.
“We put him where [the opponent is] going to be,” Schwartz said. “We put him and [junior Logan] Slaughter together and force teams to do something else. Between those two guys, it can be some tough going. They’re pretty good.”
Wiswell has spent more time at outside linebacker this season with Klepper banged up. But depending on the defensive set, Wiswell is very comfortable quickly shifting back to defensive end.
“He’s a good athlete and smart,” Schwartz said of Wiswell, who transferred to Mendon last year from Ohio. “He’s a captain and can help other kids. He has really picked up the game.”