MOUNDSVILLE - There will be a lot of anxious players on both sides of Bellaire's visit to John Marshall this weekend.
When the teams lock horns Friday at 7:30 p.m., the Big Reds will be looking to erase the memories of their week one setback to Steubenville Catholic, while the Monarchs are just beginning their season after enjoying their bye week.
"Our kids are excited, ready to play and have that itch to get out there," said John Marshall head coach Rick Goodrich. "We're behind the 8-ball a little bit having a bye week already, but we tried our best to take advantage of the extra week of practice to iron our some wrinkles and shore up some areas."
The Monarchs haven't seen live competition since a scrimmage against Marietta late last month.
"We're light years ahead of where we were last year at this time," Goodrich said. "I am not sure that transfers to a bunch of wins or not, but we're much better than we were."
Bellaire, meanwhile, is looking to break into the victory column after falling victim to the turnover bug against the Crusaders during a 55-35 loss last Saturday at Nelson Field.
"It was obviously a little somber (earlier this week), but we have to live, learn and move on," said Bellaire head coach Jose Davis. "Last week was such an emotional roller coaster throughout the entire game, but we can't dwell on it. We got back to work and we're focusing on John Marshall."
Outside of cutting down on their turnovers and mental errors, Davis wants his Big Reds to control the things they can control.
"We have to finish plays and drives," Davis said. "A lot of that just relies on us taking care of the ball. We must correct and avoid unforced errors. We have to be more consistent for four quarters on both sides of the ball."
The Big Reds' offense was once again potent when it was clicking. Senior quarterback Spencer Badia threw for 192 yards, while Tyler West and Hunter Westlake were impressive on the ground.
Nick Patrone, Kenny Hess and Brendan Ross all proved to be solid options at wide receiver.
"They're good and they're going to score points," Goodrich said. "We're not going to stop them, but we hope to slow them down and make them earn what they get. We have to limit their big plays. Tackling in space is what concerns me because their receivers are skilled, so if you miss a tackle, they're off to the races."
The Monarchs' offensive game plan will be slightly different than Bellaire's spread, no huddle, air raid. John Marshall will look to grind things out behind a solid offensive line and with senior running back Trevor Hardesty, who is a transfer from Cambridge.
Aaron Bishop will serve as the Monarchs' quarterback.
"Hardesty is a leader on both sides of the ball for us," Goodrich said. "He's fit in really well with the other kids and they've responded well to him. Aaron has done a nice job (at quarterback) and we're looking for him to be a leader. We want him to manage the game and keep everyone together."
The Big Reds' defense was touched up for more than 400 yards of offense by the Crusaders, but the challenge that JM presents is much different than Steubenville Central.
"We saw them scrimmage and we know they're big, physical and fast," Davis said. "They run downhill at you, so we'd better line up and be ready to play physical to stop the run. If we can't do that, it's going to be a struggle for us. When you're talking about Goody's teams, there are no secrets about what they want to do, so we have to prepare for that."
Staskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org