Around the WBL: Action outside of St. Marys
Friday, September 16
Bath at St. Marys
Celina at Wapakoneta
Defiance at Ottawa-Glandorf
Van Wert at Elida
Shawnee at Kenton
Elida 42, St. Marys 23
Wapakoneta 14, Bath13
Defiance 42, Celina 34
Kenton 66, Van Wert 13
O-G 27, Shawnee 24
Celina at Wapakoneta
Last Season: Celina 22, Wapakoneta 13
Notes: The Bulldogs beat Wapak 23-13 as part of Celina’s five-game winning streak in the middle of the 2010 season. That loss was one of big ones that kept Wapakoneta from the postseason a season ago.
Wapakoneta is off to a 3-0 start, powered by the offensive muscle of its running game and offensive line. The Redskins are running for 290 yards per game this season.
Conner Pickens rushed for 140 yards last week, as well, as the Redskins stuffed Aaron Smith on a two-point conversion to move to 2-0 in the WBL.
But the Redskins also mixed in the pass last week in their 14-13 thrilling win over Bath, with quarterback Kyle Gibson hitting wide receiver Kevin Kraft on a 66-yard first half touchdown pass.
Celina has lost three close games and will be looking to play spoiler on Friday. The latest heartbreak for the Bulldogs came via a 20-point fourth quarter by Defiance that rallied Defiance from a 34-22 fourth quarter deficit.
Celina quarterback Braden Billger threw for 322 yards and two touchdowns for the Bulldogs in a losing effort.
Celina is averaging 285 yards of passing through the season’s first three weeks.
Storyline: Time to shift gears. Again.
Last week it was Bath’s bruising back Aaron Smith.
Friday night it will be Celina Bulldogs quarterback Braden Billger and his arsenal of weapons.
The spread offense is coming back to Harmon Field when the 3-0 Wapakoneta Redskins host 0-3 Celina in a Week 4 Western Buckeye League matchup.
And the Redskins defense could have its hands full with Billger.
The junior quarterback has thrown for 820 yards on 70 of 124 (56.5 percent) with seven touchdowns and three interceptions already this season.
He has thrown scoring strikes to four different receivers.
“Their offense is all over the place, probably more so than Elida,” Wapak coach Doug Frye said. “They’re going to throw it more than Elida and maybe not run with their quarterback quite so much. ... The ball is going to be in the air probably 5 to 10 more times than we saw with Elida.”
Don’t let Celina’s 0-3 record fool you. All three losses have been by a touchdown or less.
In Week 1, it took a last-second field goal by Versailles’ Chad Winner to upend the Bulldogs, 31-28.
Then Celina took the undefeated Ottawa-Glandorf Titans down to the wire before a late Craig Reiman touchdown preserved the 34-28 O-G win.
Last week, the Bulldogs jumped out to a 20-0 lead on Defiance before the other Bulldogs scored 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to pull out a 42-34 win.
“What jumps at you is that they’ve been way ahead of teams and are just snake-bit to be 0-3 right now,” Frye said.
A year ago the Bulldogs handed Wapak a 22-13 defeat in Celina. Billger threw for 287 yards as the Bulldogs outgained the Redskins 368-234.
Because of that, there is — or at least should be — little chance the Redskins will overlook the winless Bulldogs despite having Defiance, Ottawa-Glandorf and rival St. Marys on the docket over the next three weeks.
“I’m hoping that our kids realize that this is a one-game-at-a-time season,” Frye said. “Because this Western Buckeye League is a gauntlet.”
One area Wapak will definitely need to address is turnovers.
Last week the Redskins gave the ball away four times. Senior running back Connor Pickens, coming off his record-setting performance in Week 2, fumbled the ball four times and lost three. And quarterback Kyle Gibson threw an interception.
In spite of that, the Redskins pulled out the 14-13 win.
“It says a lot about your kids’ character,” Frye said. “And it also says a lot about the potential of our team. ... But we’ve got to clean that up.”
A year ago Wapak had a plus-19 turnover ratio.
So far this year that number is almost even.
Pickens has been the centerpiece of the Wapak offense so far this year. He has rushed for 566 yards and six touchdowns.
Kevin Kraft has provided the spark in the “fling” part of the Wing-and-Fling offense, hauling in a 66-yard touchdown pass from Gibson against Bath.
Look for Frye to try to utilize Kraft even more in Week 4.
“We need to make sure get our skill athletes an opportunity to make plays,” Frye said. “We need to make plays in the passing game and become basically a two-headed monster. I believe we’re getting close to that. ....
“We’re going to continue to work in some more athletes on the offense side of the ball.”
Frye says there is also room for improvement at the offensive line.
“I don’t think we consistently blocked well on the O-line,” Frye said. “Not that it was a poor performance. But it wasn’t where I want us to be at yet.
“Some of the credit has to go to Bath. I’m also hesitant and realize that your opponent has something to do with that. And I think front-wise, Bath was the best front that we had faced the entire year.”
Celina and Wapak will kick off at 7:30. — John S. Hullinger
Shawnee at Kenton
Last Season: Kenton 54, Shawnee 14
Notes: Kenton’s offense found its footing in Week 3, posting 66 points in a blowout win over Van Wert.
Now the Wildcats will face a tough defense in Shawnee. The Indians are giving up just 16 points per game through the season’s first three weeks — third-best in the conference.
Shawnee’s pass defense has intercepted five passes in 53 attempts against and opposing quarterbacks are completing just 43 percent of their passes against the Indians.
Kenton’s defense gives up the fewest yards per game in the WBL while also gaining the most yardage per game (525.7).
Maty Mauk has 1,009 yards passing with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions this season.
Defiance at O-G
Last Season: O-G 26, Defiance 7
Notes: Ottawa-Glandorf is one of three unbeaten teams remaining in the Western Buckeye League after a narrow 27-24 win over Shawnee last week.
Tristan Parker (293 yards rushing, 5.0 ypc) and quarterback Caleb Siefker (229 yards rushing, 6.2 ypc, 203 yards passing, 3 TD, INT) form a solid offensive backfield for the Titans, who are rushing for 278 yards per game.
Van Wert at Elida
Last Season: Van Wert 41, Elida 37
Notes: Elida's Reggie McAdams and the Bulldogs escaped Skip Baughman Stadium despite a second-half scare from the Riders in a 42-23 win.
McAdams is having a superb senior season with over 830 yards passing, 11 touchdowns and just three interceptions through three weeks of the season.
Austin Etzler exploded for 10 catches, over 250 yards and three touchdowns for the Bulldogs against the Roughriders.
Van Wert is struggling, 0-3 after being slugged 66-13 by Kenton last week. Things likely won't get any better with McAdams and company in town.