Football Column: The Friday Morning Back-Up Fullback

Here's what filled up Sports Editor Brian Smith's notebook during the week in preparation for Week 2 of the high school football season. Attached are rosters for this week's St. Marys-Kenton, Minster-Sidney Lehman and New Bremen-Fort Loramie games and a look at the St. Marys-Kenton football series through the years.

St. Marys at Kenton
The St. Marys Roughriders didn't have much time to celebrate a win last Friday that snapped a nine-game losing streak that dated to a year back and a record-setting rushing performance by D.J. Manning in a 41-21 win over Sidney.

St. Marys opens the WBL season at Kenton and will take on record-setting quarterback Maty Mauk.

When asked if it was possible to defend both the running and passing abilities of Mauk, Greg Phillips said his team would likely have to choose one or the other to limit.

“I think we have to choose what we want to take away,” Phillips said.  “We  need to be consistent and take one phase away. We’d like to take them in a one-dimensional way.”

Maty Mauk threw for six touchdowns and almost 400 yards in last year's 54-14 romp over the Roughriders. Kenton isn't as sharp or as experienced as last year's team was in Week 10, readying for the playoffs. St. Marys isn't in disarray, like it was in the final game of the 2010 season with a winless WBL season looming. Just how much Kenton has slipped and how much St. Marys improved will be interesting to watch on Friday night.

“We have a challenge,” Phillips said. “We’re facing a quarterback who is going to sign with a BCS conference school known for throwing the ball. They  didn’t offer him because they didn’t have to. So we have to look at it as an opportunity and I think the kids are excited to give it a shot.”

Mauk’s favorite target last Friday against Coldwater was Justin Sawmiller, who caught 11 passes for 87 yards. No other Kenton wideout had more than 48 yards receiving.

Coldwater chose to blanket coverage the Kenton wideouts and make Mauk beat them with his legs. He did, scoring a go-ahead touchdown with 3:07 left in the game, but the Cavaliers limited Mauk's numbers in the passing game and kept a Kenton team that averaged 54 points per game in 2010 to just three touchdowns and 24 points.

Coldwater is one of the premier programs in the state of Ohio, so what the Cavs can do isn't always a perfect blueprint for teams hoping to duplicate that success. But Coldwater's plan of making Mauk run the ball over 30 times to get 141 yards and two touchdowns on the ground isn't a bad place to start for a defense.

Phillips changed St. Marys' defense to a 3-4 this season to get more athletes on the field. He likely had weeks like this one in mind when he did that. St. Marys will be facing nothing but five-wide sets from Kenton and the four-man secondary can help put an umbrella around the inexperienced receivers Kenton will throw out there.

One thing that can't continue for the Riders from last week was the amount of missed tackles. Against Kenton, one slip of an arm tackle can mean a long touchdown off a short pass.

“We missed way too many tackles,” Phillips said.

Phillips’ staff counted 17 missed tackles in the Sidney game.

“Our goal is to have 10 or fewer missed tackles in a game,” Phillips said. “We think we can win a game with that. If we get 12 or more,  we think we’ll lose some games.”
St. Marys’ Mitch Fowler led the team with 12 tackles last week against Sidney.

Phillips said the key to the Riders  taking the next step as an offense is adding a proficient passing offense. St. Marys went 1-of-7 passing for 20 yards on a throw from quarterback T.J. Powell to wide receiver Tre Sherman. Powell finished the game 1-of-6 passing for 20 yards and an interception.

New Bremen at Fort Loramie

Rob Messick had strong words after his team lost 43-20 last Friday night to Covington. He said his squad had to get tougher. Playing Fort Loramie is always a good test of a team's toughness.

“Ft. Loramie is a physical team,” Messick told The Evening Leader's Randy Wilker this week. “We have to match that physicality. It is something that we have to do. We have to come after people and go full speed until the final whistle.”

Loramie got beat up in the second by Minster, but the Redskins' power running game will test the Cardinals again this week.

Covington ran the fullback up the middle ceaslessly last week.

“After last weeks game we were not pleased with our efforts,“ Cardinals head coach Rob Messick said. “We did things that are not going to win football games. We just did some things that didn’t look good.”

Four turnovers didn't help the Cardinals any, either.

“The biggest thing we need to do is eliminate the turnovers,” Messick said. “We had four turnovers and they took advantage of every one of them. Also we didn’t get any turnovers. The biggest improvement is usually between game one and two.”

Matt Burgbacher's Fort Loramie Redskins got manhandled by Minster's front lines in the second half of the 26-5 loss.

At one point the Redskins were within one point in a bizarre 6-5 game.

“The effort was there, now we just need to execute,” Fort Loramie head coach Matt Burgbacher said. “We need to take care of the opportunities that are given to us.”

Minster at Sidney Lehman

Minster head coach Nate Moore — a former offensive lineman himself at the University of Dayton — raved about his offensive line coming into the season. He said they were picking up adjustments and blitzes the first day of practice like a collegiate unit.

Moore left last Friday's dominating 26-5 performance against Fort Loramie no less pleased after the Wildcat's big, strong o-line opened the way for two 100-yard rushers in Troy Kauffman and Korey Schultz.

“Anytime you can run the ball you will be in a position to win,” Moore told The Evening Leader's Mike Burkholder this week. “It says a lot about our offensive line. We had two back go for over 100 yards and we’ve got some good depth on the line. We had an offensive line paving the way and they were confident in the front and it showed.”

Minster had a few things to clean up, namely quarterback decision making. Adam Niemeyer started his first game since his freshman season and struggled early, throwing three interceptions.

Moore thinks his big-armed junior will bounce back against a Sidney Lehman team that beat Minster twice last season.

“Adam is going to be a very good quarterback,” Moore said. “He was mostly just trying to do too much and force the issue a bit and win the game on every play. We just need to play within our offense and take what the defense is giving us and be content with that. Adam is going to have a good year and he learned a lot Friday night.”

Sidney Lehman is not the same team that beat Minster in a regional semifinal playoff game last November 27-14. A loss of a large senior class showed last Friday night in a 61-14 trouncing at the hands of the Anna Rockets.

If Minster doesn't turn the ball over, Nate Moore appears to be building quite a team down in Minster.

Elida at Wapakoneta

What a difference three seasons can make.

Elida and Wapakoneta facing off on Friday will probably go a long ways towards deciding who the biggest threat to Kenton's run of WBL titles.

Just  three seasons ago the teams combined for a 3-17 record.

Doug Frye said he remembered talking to Elida head coach Jason Carpenter at the lowest point of his stay at Elida, after finishing off a second consecutive 10-loss regular season. St. Marys steamrolled Elida 68-20 and clinched a share of the WBL title with that win.

“My last game in the regular season (at St. Marys) was against Elida and we pretty well handled them in that ballgame,” Wapak coach Doug Frye told John S. Hullinger of the Wapakoneta Daily News this week.  “I remember going across and talking to Jasonand encouraging him to keep doing what he was doing.”

Add Reggie McAdams and alot of perseverence and the Bulldogs are now among the WBL's best.

Wapakoneta looks like it will again be a strong player in the WBL.

Wapak showed it still has plenty of power in the backfield with Conner Pickens going over 150 yards rushing last week behind the powerful offensive line Doug Frye has doing the heavy lifting up front.

O-G at Celina

Logistically, the way Celina lost last week seemed impossible. And yet the Bulldogs gave up about 60 yards in field position in the game's final 30 seconds and lost in heartbreaking fashion, on a game-winning 39 yard field goal to Versailles.

The bright spot from the tough loss for Celina was Braden Billger, the junior quarterback who picked up right where he left off in 2010. Billger went 23-of-45 for 298 yards and three touchdowns against Versailles.

Now Celina opens the WBL season against  the always-solid O-G Titans. O-G blanked Fostoria 32-0 last week to extend the Red Men’s losing streak to 16 straight over the past three seasons. Caleb Siefker had a solid debut at quarterback for the Titans, going 11 of 15 for 93 yards for O-G, with a pair of touchdown tosses thrown in.

Celina hasn't beaten Ottawa-Glandorf since 2003.

Mt Carmel, Canada at Marion Local

It will be interesting to see what Marion Local does at the quarterback position this week against Mount Carmel, a team out of Canada.

Marion Local sophomore quarterback Adam Bertke was intercepted three times and Flyer head coach Tim Goodwin went to senior Alex Rosenbeck in the second half of the Flyers' 13-7 overtime loss to Shawnee.

In 2009, Marion Local topped Our Lady of Mount Carmel, 61-7.

Coldwater at Hicksville
Coldwater looks to bounce back from a 24-17 last-minute loss to Kenton.

Coldwater looked good despite the loss. The Cavaliers' defense proved sturdy, holding Kenton quarterback Maty Mauk to 215 yards passing and one touchdown.

Coldwater quarterback Austin Bruns was 21 of 39 for 254 yards and two touchdowns to nine different receivers. Kenton intercepted two of Bruns’ passes.

Hicksville plays in the Green Meadows Conference.

Playoff Glance:

Yes, it's too early to even utter the word playoffs. But here are a few notes anyways.

St. Marys is tied for third in Division III's Region 10 after a win over a Division II school. Elida is tied for first after beating up on big-school Henry Ford High School from Michigan. Just 14 of the 30 teams in Region 10 won games last week.

Minster is in a seven-way tie for fourth in Division VI's Region 24 after its win over Fort Loramie. Only 10 of the 31 teams in Region 24 won a game last week.

Marion Local, New Bremen, Coldwater, and St. Henry all remain without points after opening week losses.

Wapakoneta is in a seven-team tie for seventh in Division II, Region 8 after an opening week victory over Bellefontaine. Seventeen teams in Region 8 won first week games.


Week 2 Schedule
Friday, September 2

St. Marys at Kenton

Bath at Defiance

Ottawa-Glandorf at Celina

Elida at Wapakoneta

Coldwater at Hicksville

Ft. Recovery at Waynesfield-Goshen

Minster at Sidney Lehman

New Bremen at Fort Loramie

Parkway at Tinora

St. Henry at Eaton

Versailles at Graham Local

Spencerville at Ada

Columbus Grove at Allen East

Bluffton at Carey

Lima Central Catholic at Crestview

Delphos Jefferson at Paulding

Marion Harding at Lima Senior

Lima Perry at Wayne Trace