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Warren hosts another talented team tonight

Times Observer Photo by Scott Kindberg In this Sept. 26 file photo, Warren coach Mark Morelli confers with Dylan Maeder (24) during the Dragons’ game at Franklin.

In a season of ups and downs, Warren will try to get back up again at 6 p.m. Saturday at War Memorial Field.

Only Meadville is no slouch Homecoming opponent. The Bulldogs are 3-1 and coming off a 62-0 win over Franklin last week.

Warren’s (1-2) only win was 35-12 over Franklin two weeks ago. Then, the Dragons were run over by Oil City, 61-0.

“Practice has gone relatively well,” said Warren coach Mark Morelli. “Yes, we get an extra day. We reviewed some of the fundamental aspects of the game. Why did we make the mistakes we made last week? Oil City is a big, talented squad and contributed to our poor showing. But their first three touchdowns were all the result of our mental mistakes on defense. They did nothing we did not expect; we just did not react to the plays well.”

Morelli knows they are hosting another talented District 10 squad.

“We have been reviewing what Meadville likes to do and it really has not changed much with their Wing-T offense,” he said. “We played our best 20 minutes of football last year in the playoffs against them, so we have to get the squad to believe they can play with them for four quarters.”

They are not as big as Oil City, but make up for it with speed. We have to play our positions and recognize what Meadville likes to do, offensively.

“When we are on offense, we continue to plug in different combinations up front,” said Morelli. “When we struggle on the line, we struggle offensively. The Sheffield kids have been reinforcements for us. We have been rotating them in and out to see who can do what. Interestingly, for all the concerns about how this co-op is going and whether these kids get a fair shot, we very well may have two starters from Sheffield and a starter from Youngsville on our line. Again, our approach is if they are good enough to play, they will play regardless where they come from.”

Morelli isn’t looking ahead to Titusville, Corry, and Franklin.

“Tough games allow us to see what type of team we have, how we handle a loss and how we learn to get back up and correct ourselves,” he said. “Character building is what I call it. Losing is not fun, kids do not play to lose. Yet, that is why we play the game; there is always a winner and a loser.

“I’d say they realize they are playing one of the top teams in D-10 4A,” said Morelli of his Dragons. “It is not like Oil City has only beaten Warren and no one else. The Oil City game we were soundly beaten, but we have had some positive moments in the other two games we have played. Our coaches have maintained a positive approach, and our kids are still pushing themselves to get better.”

Morelli is always looking for players to step up.

“At times, our defense has been holding their own,” he said. “Alan McAlister has been solid up front for us all year long. This week, we need to get some consistency up front and get our offense going. That means we need to sustain and maintain our blocks, something we have not done well. Meadville vs. Warren always seems to be an interesting game, regardless of the records.”

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