LIMA — It is back to fundamentals, watching more film and regrouping for Lima Senior as the Spartans prepare for state-ranked Toledo Whitmer on Friday night after suffering its worst defeat of the season to another state-ranked team, Toledo Central Catholic, 37-6.
Against the Irish, Lima Senior was held to 96 total yards on offense while the Spartans amassed 336 yards of total offense.
Lima Senior head coach Andre Griffin took responsibility for the loss.
“The bottom line is we weren’t ready and that starts with me,” Griffin said. “Obviously I didn’t get them ready to play, and I put that on me and we have to regroup from that. It was very surprising. There is nothing really to go over in that game. We just have to come out this week ready to go.”
Putting Toledo Central Catholic behind it, Lima Senior must brace for another tough challenge against Whitmer, which comes into the game with a 4-0 mark and ranked sixth in the Division I poll.
Spearheading the Panther offense is quarterback Riley Keller. The sophomore signal-caller is 49 of 89 for 692 yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions.
“Their quarterback might be the best in the state,” Griffin said. “He can throw the ball. In the last two games on the first play he threw over the top.”
Keller has two receivers to throw the ball to with senior Jasean Rader leading the club with 20 receptions and 245 yards and four touchdowns and Patrick Mappe collecting 10 catches for 194 yards and one touchdown.
Kobe Myer, a junior, is the team’s top rusher with 314 yards and seven touchdowns.
“They are very balanced team offensively,” Griffin said. “We have to be ready to play.”
Defensively, the Panthers are giving up a little more than 11 points per game and are coming off a shutout of St. John’s Jesuit.
Griffin said they do not do as much blitzing as Toledo Central Catholic but they are big and strong up front and keep everything in front of them and speed defines the defensive secondary with Sam Stickels at safety. As a junior Stickels was a first team, all-Three Rivers Athletic Conference selection.
Getting back to basics and slowing down the practice to gain a better pace for the offense has been one of Griffin’s priorities this week as well as shoring up the special teams.
Spartan quarterback Adrine Mitchell, who was shaken up against the Irish, is expected to be back in the pocket.
Griffin is looking to get Jaleel King and Keaton Upshaw more touches this week.
“I put a couple more plays in to get to the big targets to get them the ball quicker,” Griffin said. “We want to use our athletic ability more. The timing has to be on point.”
The Spartan running game has been smothered the last two weeks, averaging just 18 yards in the last two games.
A loss to Whitmer would put the Spartans in a tough situation to win the TRAC and they would have to play nearly flawless football to make the playoffs. However, Griffin said this is not a make or break game because there is a lot of football to play.
“It is only week five in the season and week two in the TRAC so you still have six weeks left,” Griffin said. “We are back home and the next three are at home. We are a good football team and we have to get back to believing we are a good football team.”
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468 or at Twitter @JoseNogueras1