After a 7-4 season in 2014 and a trip to the postseason, the West Senators had high expectations entering the 2015 campaign. However, after a 1-3 start, including a 46-6 loss to Wellston a week ago, the Senators are left searching for answers.
After the 40-point loss, second-year head coach Ben Johnson has taken the opportunity to teach his kids how to overcome adversity.
“The main theme is to have perseverance, just keep playing hard no matter what the circumstances are; no matter how bad things get, just keep playing hard,” Johnson said. “If you put your head down, if you drop your effort a little bit, it only gets worse.”
The Senators will have to quickly put last week behind them as West will have to travel to Raceland (Ky.) Friday to play the Rams, who reached the State Semifinals last year.
“They’re an outstanding program and outstanding tradition,” Johnson said. “They’re well-balanced. They do a great job in all phases. We’re going to have to be solid in all phases as well.”
Raceland is coming off a 28-22 loss against Valley on Friday but quarterback Nathaniel Davidson gave Ram fans plenty to cheer about. He ran for 105 yards and threw for 113 yards while adding three rushing touchdowns.
If West wants to pull off a road victory, containing Davidson is a top priority.
“We’re going to try to keep as many guys in the box as we can while still having sound coverage,” Johnson said. “We’re going to play a little bit more man coverage and keep an extra linebacker in the box to try to keep him contained a little bit.”
Offensively, the Senators have only scored 14 points over their last two games. Johnson admitted his team needs to get better in all phases when West has the ball — blocking, rushing and passing.
“We’re just trying to focus on the fundamentals,” Johnson said. “We’ve moved the ball. Our yardage production hasn’t been that bad, we’ve just struggled to score. We’re just focusing a lot on red zone and short yardage, just finishing drives.”
As far as the keys to the game, Johnson’s first key goes back to his overall message of dealing with adversity.
“The first key is to play hard no matter what the circumstances are, just play hard every snap no matter if things are going good or if things are going bad.”
The other focus for West doesn’t change — play solid defense and special teams, which has been inconsistent so far this year.
“We want to play great defense and great special teams, and not turn the ball over,” Johnson said. “Our offense has been doing a good job of not turning the ball over, but our defense and special teams have let us down a few times. And that’s what we want to rely on, so we’ve got to improve in those areas.”
Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.
Reach Chris Slone at 740-353-3101, ext 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.