On the surface, it sounds so simple. Yet it’s something the state-ranked St. Paul football team had to take to heart this week.
The Flyers (8-2) — ranked No. 9 in the final Division VII Associated Press state poll — ended the regular season with a 13-0 loss at home to Firelands Conference rival Monroeville (3-7). It was the first loss to the Eagles in 10 games, and the first home FC shutout loss in 27 years.
But St. Paul coach John Livengood and his team weren’t turning in equipment on Monday. Instead, the Flyers are the No. 2 seed in Region 26 and host Edon (7-3) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Whitney Field.
“It’s important for our kids to bounce back,” Livengood said. “I think the greatest lessons you can learn in your life are when you have failures. When you don’t do things well, and don’t fail — you don’t really learn from it. Most often you can learn good lessons, and I think we’re in that type of situation. Your mindset and how you approach things is so important in whatever you do, but especially a game night and practice.”
Saturday’s game is St. Paul’s 15th home playoff game in 21 seasons since the OHSAA expanded and allowed for the higher seed to host in the first round. The Flyers are 12-2 in Week 11 games at Whitney Field.
The Flyers are also 40-19 all-time in the playoffs, which was also a talking point for Livengood: The playoffs is not something to take for granted, no matter how frequently it comes.
“We did a lot of talking on Monday,” Livengood said. “It was a really good experience for us. There were a lot of factors that played into last week, but we talked about how you handle situations when things don’t go your way. Practice was very good to start the week, and I anticipate and hope that will continue and carry over to our game on Saturday.”
While the Flyers haven’t missed the playoffs since the current senior class was in the fourth grade, the Bombers are making their fifth appearance — all since 1999 — and the first in six years.
Edon opened with losses to powerful playoff programs at Newark Catholic (35-29) and Edgerton (44-12). It beat Hicksville convincingly in Week 3, then suffered a blowout loss to unbeaten and Toledo Area Athletic Conference champion Northwood, 52-12, on Sept. 20.
But the Bombers haven’t lost since in winning six straight games — none of which have been closer than 30 points. They are an experienced team, as Edon returned 10 starters on offense and nine on defense from another 7-3 team in 2018 for 10th-year head coach Scott Staten.
“They remind me a lot of Tiffin Calvert with their style of play,” Livengood said of the Bombers. “They have athletic kids and size-wise are very similar to us, which is something we’re not used to seeing.”
Edon runs the spread offense, with sophomore quarterback Drew Gallehue (6-foot-4, 215) leading the way. He was 5-of-6 passing for 138 yards and 4 TDs in last week’s blowout win over winless Stryker.
Halfback Austin Kiess (6-0, 215) is a key two-way player for the Bombers, while senior receiver Chase Reed (5-8, 155) is their main downfield threat. The offensive line weighs in at 180-to-190 pounds minus sophomore left tackle Cassius Holbert (6-3, 265).
“Kiess is their H-back and the guy they use quite a bit, including some fullback and tight end looks for key blocks of attack,” Livengood said. “He also runs really well and has good hands. Reed is their biggest playmaker in terms of explosiveness, and reminds me of Walker Elliott (Plymouth quarterback).
“He’s not a super big kid, but he is explosive and plays hard and physical,” he added. “They do a lot of things with him offensively to try and free him up and create situations where he makes big plays, with Gallehue as a big QB who spreads you out the whole time.”
Edon runs a 4-4 on defense, but will shift around a little bit depending on the style of play it faces game-to-game. Kiess and Reed were the TAAC Defensive and Special Teams players of the year in 2018, while Shane Zulch (6-1, 180) is the top lineman at defensive end.
“They are quick and physical and are attacking on defense,” Livengood said. “From what we can gather, you want to avoid third-and-long situations, as they will always outnumber you because of stunts. They will bring pressure depending on down and distance. They are very aggressive and attacking.”
The Flyers enter the game averaging 35.3 points and 326.7 yards per game on offense. They allow 155.7 yards and 8.6 points per game on defense.
Cam Caizzo (1,059 yards, 12 TDs) and Justin Butler (679 yards, 13 TDs) anchor the backfield for the Flyers. Myron Stoll is 49-of-81 passing for 687 yards and 8 TDs.
On defense, linebacker Will Stieber has 98 tackles, three sacks and four fumble recoveries, and Ben Meyer adds 48 tackles and eight sacks. Safety Lars Livengood adds 41 tackles, six interceptions, four pass breakups and a fumble recovery. Kicker Tyler Perkins is 48-of-50 on extra points and has a field goal.
St. Paul team stats
— Yards for: 3,267 (326.7)
— Points for: 353 (35.3)
— Points allowed: 86 (8.6)
— Yards allowed: 1,557 (155.7)
St. Paul leaders
— Cam Caizzo: 162 att., 1,059 yards, 12 TDs
— Justin Butler: 91 att., 679 yards, 13 TDs
— Myron Stoll: 49-of-81, 687 yards, 8 TDs
— Will Stieber: 98 tackles, 3 sacks, 4 fumble recoveries
— Ben Meyer: 48 tackles, 8 sacks
Edon (7-3) results
Aug. 31: vs. Newark Catholic, Lost 35-29
Sept. 6: at Edgerton, Lost 44-12
Sept. 13: at Hicksville, Won 55-12
Sept. 20: at Northwood, Lost 52-12
Sept. 28: vs. Montpelier, Won 41-0
Oct. 4: vs. Ottawa Hills, Won 49-14
Oct. 11: at Hilltop, Won 48-0
Oct. 18: vs. Cardinal Stritch, Won 42-8
Oct. 25: at Defiance Ayersville, Won 36-6
Nov. 1: at Stryker, Won 62-19
St. Paul (8-2) results
Aug. 31: vs. Northgate, Pa., Won 55-0
Sept. 6: at Fremont SJCC, Won 49-0
Sept. 14: at Tiffin Calvert, Won 21-0
Sept. 21: vs. Plymouth, Won 34-8
Sept. 27: at Crestview, Won 14-6
Oct. 4: at Mapleton, Won 54-6
Oct. 12: vs. South Central, Won 49-6
Oct. 19: vs. W. Reserve, Lost 41-35 OT
Oct. 25: at New London, Won 42-6
Nov. 2: vs. Monroeville, Lost 13-0