TRAVERSE CITY — With the season just two weeks old, Traverse City Central coach Tom Passinault is still trying to get a read on his football team.
Let alone Traverse City West, Friday’s opponent at Thirlby Field.
The Week 3 Crosstown Showdown date is the earliest in the 17-year history of the rivalry. For 14 years, it was the last game of the regular season. It was then moved to Week 6 the last two seasons.
“Traditionally, with this game being later in the year, we pretty much had an understanding of ourselves and were just scouting the opponent,” Passinault said. “In kind of an awkward way this year, we’re kind of scouting ourselves still. We’re not really sure what our identity is. I would guess Tim (Titans coach Tim Wooer) feels the same way on the West side. We’re still feeling things out and in the meantime we have to prepare for a big football game.
“We’re really, believe it or not, only focusing on our team this week. We’re hardly even talking about the rivalry because we need to improve and get better ourselves.”
The teams will bring identical 1-1 records in the Big North Conference battle. Central is the defending league champion, but West made a statement last Friday with an impressive 21-8 road win at Ogemaw Heights.
The Trojans opened with a 31-23 loss at Marquette, but came back to beat Escanaba 28-7 last Friday.
Asked what he learned about his team in the last two weeks, Passinault responded: “Our kids are resilient. The Marquette loss was tough, but they came back and worked hard.”
Offensively, Central started gaining traction in the second half at Marquette — scoring all 23 points after the break — and had its moments in beating Escanaba.
Junior running back Ethan Campbell has provided explosiveness, rushing for more than 200 yards with five touchdowns. He’s had scoring jaunts of 68 and 36 yards. Junior quarterback Sean Williams threw the ball effectively last week, completing 12 of 15 passes for 120 yards and a score.