No one would ever call Kenton’s offense an afterthought, but while the Wildcats’ five-wide no-hold’s barred passing attack is still one of the country’s most prolific it’s the defense that has perhaps been most impressive through two weeks of the 2013 season.
Kenton’s defense held defending Division V state champion Coldwater to two points in the season opener. A week later, they shut out Wapakoneta for three quarters before giving up two fourth-quarter touchdowns when the game was already decided in a 52-16 rout.
It's that hornet's nest the St. Marys football team walks into on Friday when the Roughriders travel to Kenton for a Week 3 match-up.
Kenton is led on defense by University of Michigan commit Noah Furbush, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound outside linebacker who has a team-high 25 tackles to go with a pair of sacks and eight tackles for loss.
Fellow linebacker Tristan Reichelderfer, a 6-foot-3, 195 pounder, has made 24 tackles — including 16 last week against Wapakoneta.
Junior defensive back Trevor Downing has 21 tackles, an interception and half a sack through two weeks of the season.
Kenton is giving up an average of just nine points and 237 yards per game after a pair of games against Coldwater and Wapakoneta teams that both averaged more than 28 points per game in 2012.
Oh, and the Kenton offense can put some points on the board, too.
Quarterback Grant Sherman, who threw seven first-half touchdowns against the Roughriders last year before sitting out the second half, completed 25-of-44 pass for 256 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in Week 1 against Coldwater. He followed that up with a 29-for-45 for 404 yards, six touchdowns and one interception last week in Kenton’s 52-16 win over Wapakoneta.
In his second season as the starter after taking over following Maty Mauk’s graduation, he has thrown for 5,647 yards, 64 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in his career.
Eight different Wildcats have caught passes in the first two weeks, led by senior Justin Sawmiller’s 21 catches and 258 yards and two touchdowns.
Junior Kollin Stollar has 13 catches for 225 yards and three touchdowns. Matt Bahr has just three catches, but all three have gone for touchdowns.
St. Marys lost in Week 2 in heartbreaking fashion once again. After losing 19-16 in the season opener, the Roughriders fell to Shawnee 14-13.
St. Marys’ offense sputtered much of the game before getting a big play on a 60-yard Trent Wale touchdown run late in the third quarter. The Riders ran for 163 yards on 34 carries — good for 4.8 yards per carry.
“It was a 48 minute-game and we probably played 30 minutes of it pretty well,” St. Marys head coach Greg Phillips said. “It’s a young team. That’s no excuse. But we just have to stay together and keep working."
Fullback Trent Wale has been the Riders' big play running back so far. He's sprung two long touchdown runs in two games. He has rushed for 182 yards on 22 carries (8.3 yards per carry) and those two scores. St. Marys has spread the wealth in the offensive backfield, with five rushers with more than 49 yards on the ground.
The St. Marys defense has played well the first two weeks of the season. The Riders held Shawnee to 269 yards of offense, and 67 of those yards came on one play when Angelo Fox popped out of the center of the line for a third-quarter touchdown for Shawnee.
“We made some adjustments, we got that fixed up. But we didn’t look great on two or three plays. If we could just get some consistency,” Phillips said.
St. Marys' Jared Knous has been everywhere on the defensive side of the ball from the secondary. He leads the Riders with 21 tackles, three pass break-ups and a WBL-best two interceptions.
Linebacker Matt Alexander has two sacks and 15 tackles.
Kenton has won five straight games against the Roughriders dating back to 2008. St. Marys last won at Kenton in 2007 by a 28-14 score.