CANAL WINCHESTER — Coach Mark Weber knew his Teays Valley squad faced a tough challenge Friday in its final game before opening Mid-State League Buckeye Division play.
Already hobbled by a plethora of injuries to key players sustained earlier in the season, the Vikings ran into a buzzsaw in the form of defending Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division champion Canal Winchester. The former MSL-Buckeye rival took advantage of five Teays Valley lost fumbles and cruised to a 66-7 home decision.
“They were way faster than us,” Weber said. “You can tell they played two OCC (non-divisional) games. You can just tell they were ready for that (style of game) and we hadn’t played quite the schedule.
“(The result) is what happens.”
The Indians (3-0) leaned on sophomore running back Stephan Byrd, who amassed 87 yards and four rushing touchdowns on 12 carries while also accounting for a receiving touchdown in the 35-point second quarter. The back was someone Weber knew was going to be a load entering the week.
“How do you simulate tackling him in practice,” Weber said, “especially when we’ve not seen a kid like (him)? You can’t.”
Tristan McDaniel put the Vikings (2-1) on the board early in the fourth quarter when his 3-yard dive into paydirt capped off a 5-play, 65-yard drive. He carried the ball 14 times for 61 yards, the team high in both categories.
Weber knows his team ran through the majority of its non-league slate against a number of schools similar in size. Teays Valley will welcome Logan Elm (1-2) into Ashville next Friday after the Braves fell 49-24 at Miami Trace.
For Weber, the message is simple.
“Turn the page and play,” Weber said.
What gives Weber a sense of optimism through the loss is how the team, despite its miscues, didn’t fold early and continued to show effort throughout the evening. It will be a trait needed in order to reclaim the league crown.