Rossford and Springfield march into the third week of nonconference play with plenty to ponder.
The Bulldogs (1-1) wonder if they're on the brink of experiencing a breakout season in their second year competing in the Northern Buckeye Conference.
The Blue Devils (0-2) are in the mist of a feeling-out period with a new coach and a new playbook in what appears to be a rebuilding year for the Northern Lakes League participant.
When Rossford and Springfield meet today at Blue Devils Stadium, both teams will have an opportunity to address some of their concerns one final time before commencing with the league portion of their seasons.
"Just watching them (on videotape), there are some athletes over there," said Rossford coach Todd Drusback, referring to the Blue Devils. "We're definitely concerned with matching up with guys and not giving up the big plays because they have big-play potential.
"We can not let Springfield's playmakers make big plays."
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Nonetheless, Springfield hasn't gotten off to the kind of start Blue Devils first-year coach Pat Gucciardo had hoped for.
The Blue Devils were pummeled 66-14 in their season-opener by a top-notch Central Catholic team. Bowsher then spoiled Springfield's home opener by scoring a 28-13 road victory.
"The first game we were simply outmatched and outgunned by Central Catholic," Gucciardo said. "They're an excellent football team.
"The Bowsher game, I was extremely disappointed and definitely embarrassed with how we played. I thought we didn't get it done on both sides of the football."
Furthermore, Gucciardo went into the first two weeks without six players who are expected to be significant contributors this season. Three of those players missed the first two games with injuries, and another three were serving a two-game suspension for violating team rules.
Gucciardo was named the Blue Devils' coach in the spring, and the former Start coach came over looking to employ his wide-open spread attack.
The Spartans were known for amassing yards and scoring points. It's what he expects to eventually come together with the Blue Devils, who finished 2-8 overall last season.
"You want to get your team rolling right away," he said. "You feel you can change things immediately, but you have to be realistic.
"It takes a little extra time in an offensive and defensive system like this. It's a really complex system."
Springfield's Elijah Todd has shown himself as an early-season bright spot for a team still attempting to find its identity. The junior tailback gained 143 yards rushing and scored two touchdowns on 15 carries against the Rebels.
"He's doing some good things," Gucciardo said, of Todd, a 5-foot-9, 179-pounder. "He's electrifying and he's got a bright future."
Senior QB Clay Fink (6-0, 175) and junior linebacker Ross Lonsway (5-10, 184) have also earned praise from Gucciardo for their effort through two games.
As far as dealing with Rossford -- a team that believes it's on the right track under Drusback -- the Blue Devils anticipate a third straight tough opponent standing in their way of their first win.
"It's a huge challenge," Gucciardo said, of facing Rossford. "They do a great job. It used to be that you'd have Rossford on the schedule and you would put that down as a win.
"I think Todd (Drusback) is doing a great job over there. They're not coming over here to be competitive. They're coming over here to win."
The Bulldogs, who were 1-9 last season, opened the season with an impressive 34-12 triumph against Bowling Green and lost to Maumee 40-23 a week ago. Rossford walked away from the latter contest between former NLL rivals believing it had chances to win that game.
For Drusback, that indicates the Bulldogs' attitudes are pointed in the right direction during his third season.
"I think our kids truly believe they can win," Drusback said. "They may have just talked it in the past.
"The opportunity to be in a game against Maumee, compared to in the past, was encouraging."
Sean McCormack, a 6-foot, 175-pounder, has been stellar during the first two weeks of the season. He came up with two interceptions, returning one for a touchdown, against Bowling Green and recorded another interception in the loss to Maumee.
Quarterback Ryan Clay (6-0, 160) has also been a productive leader for the Bulldogs, passing for 200 yards and rushing for another 80 in the loss to Maumee. Ian Stolar provided an offensive spark, rushing for 250 yards and a touchdown against BG.
They've been exemplary players who have bought into Drusback's system.
"We've worked hard in the offseason than in past seasons," Drusback said. "We've seen strength and speed improvements."
And just like the rebuilding Blue Devils, the Bulldogs are hoping to see improvements in the win column this season.
Contact Donald Emmons at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade.