A St. Marys football team looking to get healthy and back on the winning track will seemingly find the right opponent in the Van Wert Cougars to accomplish those goals.
St. Marys could use some home cooking after two weeks away from Skip Baughman Stadium.
The Riders’ losing streak reached three last week after the wheels fell off in the second half of a 35-7 loss to Ottawa-Glandorf. The Titans scored 28 unanswered second-half points to drop St. Marys to 3-5 and 2-5 in the Western Buckeye League.
Afterwards, St. Marys head coach Greg Phillips talked about his team still dwelling on a loss to Defiance two weeks before.
Phillips said his team was forced to “sit down and figure some things out.”
“Whether it’s adjusting scheme or changing people, we have to do what we have to do,” Phillips added.
Still winless and coming off an historic 77-12 loss last week to Wapakoneta (the 77 points were the most scored by the Redskins in school history), Van Wert limps into St. Marys on Hall of Fame Night.
Van Wert has won two straight games in a historically meaningful series between the Roughriders and Cougars that dates back to 1913, but this isn’t the same Van Wert team that was 5-5 a season ago with one of the league’s best quarterbacks in Corey Clifton.
Clifton and all-league running back Connor Massillo are long gone and Van Wert has only four seniors on its roster this fall (36 players on its roster total).
That means for two-platoon action for the Cougars and a tired team that has given up more points than any other team in the league.
They don’t put many points on the board either.
Van Wert has the worst scoring offense (9.6 points per game) and worst scoring defense (43.5 points per game given up) in the Western Buckeye League.
St. Marys has the eighth-ranked scoring offense (23.5 points per game) and eight scoring defense (30.8 points per game given up).
Neither team throws the ball well, with the teams being the bottom two passing offenses in the WBL.
The Roughriders were without WBL leading rusher D.J. Manning almost all of last week. Manning left in the first quarter after a nagging leg injury flared up after a sharp cut on the wet turf at Titan Stadium.
After the game Phillips said Manning’s injury was actually in better shape than it was at the end of the game against Wapakoneta the previous week.
“He’s a gamer,” Phillips said. “We’ll gear him back up to be ready to play against Van Wert.”
St. Marys senior Tre Sherman moved from wide receiver to tailback and filled in nicely against O-G with 94 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown.
St. Marys’ usually-sturdy run defense gave up 257 yards on the ground to the powerful O-G offense — including 184 yards and two touchdowns by Titan running back Tristan Parker.
That run defense’s biggest test this week will come from running back Lucas Sullivan, who leads the Cougars in rushing with 570 yards rushing and six touchdowns.
Sullivan scored on a 15-yard touchdown run against the Redskins last week.
Van Wert sophomore quarterback Tyler Williams has been learning on the job while taking the starting position from Clifton. Williams entered last week’s game 16-for-46 for 156 yards passing with two touchdowns and nine interceptions.
St. Marys’ defense couldn’t get off the field, allowing O-G to convert seven of nine on third downs.
Van Wert is 0-8 and hasn’t played to within single digits of another team this season. The Cougars’ closest losses are by 10 points to Celina and in the season opener against Bryan.
Elida at Celina
Last Season: Elida 65, Celina 21
Notes: Elida snapped a two-game losing streak and brightened considerably its playoff hopes with a thrilling 31-28 win over Lima Bath last Friday night.
Elida is now fourth in Division III’s Region 10 and with a win would take another step towards a first round home game in the playoffs.
Celina has lost two straight games and is 1-7, 1-6 in the WBL.
Celina’s quarterback Braden Billger had a big night statistically last week in Celina’s 70-33 loss to Kenton, going 36 of 52 for 348 yards and five passing touchdowns.
Wapakoneta at Shawnee
Last Season: Wapak 17, Shawnee 0
Notes: Wapakoneta is now seventh in the latest Associated Press Division II poll and garnered a first-place vote after steamrolling Van Wert, 77-12, last Friday night to go to 8-0.
Those 77 points set a new school record, eclipsing the old mark of 62 points from 1967.
Wapakoneta ran for another school record with 518 yards on the ground.
The Redskins need to keep winning to get a first round home playoff game in an intensely competitive Division II Region 8. Wapak is fourth in the region behind three other 8-0 teams in Trotwood-Madison, Kings Mills Kings and Tipp City Tippecanoe.
With a showdown in Week 10 looming against Kenton (8-0), the Redskins first have to take care of a Lim Shawnee squade that has won two straight games to improve to 4-4 with a suddenly powerful offense.
Shawnee has scored 96 points in its last two games against Celina and Shawnee.
Bath at O-G
Last Season: O-G 35, Bath 28
Notes: Lima Bath’s playoff hopes crashed with a last-minute 31-28 loss to Elida last Friday night. Now Bath is in 14th in Region 14.
O-G is very much in the playoff chase after an impressive second-half performance by the Titans, who turned a tied 7-7 game against St. Marys at the half into a 35-7 runaway victory.
The Titans dominated on the ground, rushing for 257 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
Defiance at Kenton
Last Season: Kenton 58, Defiance 6
Notes: Kenton stayed atop the state’s AP Poll rankings with a 70-33 win over Celina last week.
Maty Mauk extended his push for the Mr. Football award with eight passing touchdowns and two rushing scores in the blowout over the Bulldogs.
Defiance slumped to 16th in Region 10 with the 33-7 loss to Shawnee last Friday night.