St. Marys hosts Shawnee squad that now has Owen at the helm

The St. Marys football team opens the home and Western Buckeye League portion of its 2013 schedule against a Shawnee team that was tested by a defending state champion in Week 1.

New Shawnee head coach Steve Owen made his debut in a 42-7 loss to Marion Local as pilot of the Indians program after being the team’s offensive line coach under Dick West, who retired after the 2012 season.

Owens said much of the principles his team uses on both the offensive and defnesive sides of the ball are the same as Shawnee under West, but tweaked to make use of space.

Shawnee, which ran the Wing-T, now runs a spread form of it out of the pistol offense made famous by Nevada head coach Chris Ault in the early 2000s.

“On tape it looks different than what we ran under Coach West, but it’s actually pretty similar,” Owen said. “It adds the dimension of the slot.”

Sophomore Griffin Hites (6-0, 185) takes over the controls at quarterback. A week ago, he went 7-for-13 for 33 yards while running 17 times for 71 yards and a touchdown.

Junior running back Angelo Fox (6-2, 206) ran for 105 yards on 14 carries last week.

Owen would like to get the ball into the hands of senior Thad Vernon (6-4, 175). “He’s a playmaker and we’d like for him to touch the ball more than we got it to him last week,” Owen said.  Vernon had two catches for nine yards a week ago.

Another guy on the outside to keep an eye on is Conner Bianco (6-1, 166), who also does the kicking duties for the Indians.

Shawnee still runs the 4-3 defense and — no surprise — the Indians are again loaded at the linebacker position. Under West, Shawnee became a producer of quality linebacker after linebacker and this year’s group is no different.

They are led by linebackers Dylan Hefner (6-0, 175) and Zach Kaplan (5-9, 180).

“They really are the heart of this defense,” Owen said.

Owen also points to his two defensive tackles as strong points to the defense that held Marion Local standout running back Jacy Goettemoeller to 19 yards on seven carries in Week 1.

Jaylin Taylor (6-1, 220) and Janson McCormick (6-1, 270)  plug up the middle with size and speed.

St. Marys is trying to move past a heartbreaking 19-16 loss at Sidney in which the Riders came up three yards short from a go-ahead touchdown in the game’s closing minutes.

St. Marys made three trips inside the 10 yard line but only harvested three points from those trips.

But Shawnee head coach Steve  Owen said he saw on tape a St. Marys team that is physical up front.

“The thing that stood out to me is how hard they ran the ball,” Owen said.

St. Marys’ defense played well, but the Roughriders simply couldn’t get the defense off the field.

“Like I’ve said before, it’s that rollecoaster,” St. Marys head coach Greg Phillips said. “We’ll look really good for three or four plays and then take a play off. We’ll have ten guys block a play or execute an assignment and we’ll have one guy who misses it and that inconsistency is killing us right now.”

St. Marys gained 5.7 yards per play a week ago to Sidney’s 4.4 yards per play, but the Yellow

Jackets ran 15 more offensive plays than the Roughriders and converted on third and fourth downs in what Sidney head coach Adam Doenges jokingly called a “bend but don’t break offense” after the game. Sidney converted 8-of-18 third downs (44 percent) and converted 3-of-4 fourth downs. Sidney’s touchdown drive ate up 11 and 12 plays.

The Rider defense held Sidney quarterback Jordan Fox to under 50-percent passing at 14-of-30 for 208 yards and defensive back Jared Knous picked off Fox in the end zone for a key turnover that the Riders nearly turned into t he game-winning points.

On offense,  St. Marys ran the ball well, putting up 277 yards on the ground on 46 carries.

Trent Wale rushed for 97 yards, Patrick Obringer had 66 yards, Ryan Slife ran for 53 yards and quarterback Isaac Fitzgerald ran for 43 yards.

Shawnee has won the last four meetings against the Roughriders, including last year’s 13-7 victory in Week 10 that sent the Riders to their first-ever 10-loss season.