SALEM - If you walked into Reilly Stadium late last Friday night, you missed plenty of excitement.
Two fumbles, a touchdown and a field goal put Salem up 10-0 over the top ranked team in Ohio Div. III, Region 11 after one quarter of play.
For the next three quarters, it was all Dukes as Marlington eventually overpowered a younger, smaller Salem club en route to a 41-10 victory.
The gauntlet continues for the Quakers as they hit the road for the first time since week two to square off against another quality NBC opponent in Canton South.
The Quakers won last year's game 17-10.
"They're playing very, very well," Salem head coach Ron Johnson said. "They had a nice comeback win last week. They had another come-from-behind win against Northwest."
Canton South is trying to keep pace with those same Dukes that churned out 41 unanswered against Salem last Friday. The Wildcats have just one loss on their record, coming in NBC play, and have a marquee match-up with Marlington in week eight.
This week the Quakers will get to play a bit of a spoiler role when step onto the field at Clyde Brechbuler Stadium.
"We're not thinking about that," Johnson said. We just want to be 1-0 this week and win."
For South, sandwiched between Salem and Marlington is West Branch in week seven. While the necessity to focus one week at a time is on the Wildcats, there is still an importance in preparation for Salem.
"Good football teams don't overlook teams," Johnson said. "I don't think they're going to overlook anyone. It's their homecoming, it's a big game for them. I think we're going to get their best shot."
Last week the Wildcats escaped a scare with the Alliance Aviators and pulled out a 33-27 win.
That comeback was keyed by a running game featuring Josh Kenny, and a passing attack highlighting Josh Lyons to seal the deal.
On the season, Lyons has thrown for over 800 yards and nine touchdowns. It's a change of pace from the high powered ground attacks that Salem has gotten accustomed to over the past few weeks.
"It's really the first true passing offense that we've seen so it is a little different," Johnson said. "He's a true passer."
Defensively, Salem is preparing for an in-your-face attack that features plenty of pressure. A short passing game, displayed early on last week, will be key to developing timing and rhythm.
The speed that occupies the Quakers backfield and receiver positions will also undoubtedly need to be a factor.
"They're vulnerable to some fast guys," Johnson said. "Alliance had some fast guys and made some big-time plays. We've got some fast guys, but they're a high-pressure defense, and we're going to have our hands full.
The developing offense will continue to grow, and likely bring new wrinkles added to what was seen last week to optimize space.
"As we continue to get more reps, we'll get better at it," Johnson said. "We'll continue to expand the package and then we'll have more answers for what we can do on offense."
With rain all week, the forecast for Friday night in Canton is expected to be relatively dry - a contrast from the three rain-soaked affairs that have taken place at Reilly Stadium in recent weeks.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.