WOODSFIELD - Both Monroe Central's Jay Circosta and Shadyside's Mark Holenka are hopeful that their squads buy into the idea that teams make their biggest improvement from weeks one to two.
Both also know it won't be easy as the Seminoles and Tigers square off against one another in a meeting that's become a staple of the week two slate over the course of several years.
The rivalry gets renewed Friday at 7 p.m. in Woodsfield.
Monroe Central is coming off a tough 14-13 setback at the hands of Union Local last week. It was a game in which Circosta found himself having to do multiple doubletakes because he didn't recognize his team.
"We didn't play like a typical Monroe Central team," Circosta said. "I didn't see the spirit, desire or enthusiasm that we usually have. We had too many penalties, we shot ourselves in the foot and we didn't execute offensively. We just seemed to have forgotten everything we knew."
The Seminoles' reward is a date with a Tigers' squad that hasn't lost a regular season game since Oct. 7 of 2011 and has now won 14 straight games in the regular season.
"We'd better wake up soon because there's no doubt in my mind we're playing the best team on our schedule this week," Circosta continued. "I guarantee if we play like we did last week, it won't be a one-point game."
Shadyside is coming off a hard-earned 22-20 victory against Meadowbrook last Friday in Byesville. For a stint, it appeared as if the Tigers were going to run away and hide from the Colts, but then needed a strong defensive stand to preserve the victory.
"I didn't need a chance to evaluate our film because I knew from the game that we had a lot of areas where we need to fine tune and get better," Holenka said. "We have big work to do this week to get the kinks worked out and, at the same time, prepare for the next team."
Holenka fully expects the Seminoles to have fully stepped up their game this weekend.
"We're playing a team that's going to be foaming at the mouth and when you've got players in that mindset, it makes it that much tougher," Holenka said. "Having (Monroe) coming off a loss certainly isn't beneficial for us."
Monroe Central is preparing for the Tigers' rugged ground game that features a three-headed backfield monster of junior quarterback Austin Dorris, junior tailback Eric Howell and senior fullback Chris Littell. All of whom were reliable weapons against the Colts.
"Shadyside lost some good players, but with the tradition they have and as well coached as they are, they always find enough pieces to put together another outstanding team," Circosta said. "They're backs might not have break-away speed, but they're down-hill runners who are workhorses."
Dorris, who ran for two touchdowns, a two-point conversion and threw a touchdown, passed for only 45 yards last week.
"Monroe Central is always sound defensively," Holenka said. "We'll have to be solid on offense and do what we do well to have success."
Monroe Central's offense, meanwhile, mustered just 226 yards of offense and 92 of those came on one touchdown run by Levi Brown.
"We dressed 27 kids and we had seven go down at one point or another with cramps," Circosta said. "It's hard to do the things you want to do on both sides of the ball and get people in the right positions when you're that many kids down."
Brown ran for 108 yards and the score on four totes. Zach Jorris, the Seminoles' quarterback, was 5-of-12 for 64 yards through the air. Senior Curtis Nixon, who was making his return to the lineup after missing 2012 with a knee injury, ran for 50 yards.
"Monroe has two real go-to-guys that we must find a way to neutralize," Holenka said. "We can't be star gazing and worrying about formations. We have to find and recognize where Brown and Nixon are."