FOOTBALL: Wapak heads into hornets' nest
Sometimes a matchup just screams “epic.”
Friday night’s Western Buckeye League matchup between Wapakoneta and Ottawa-Glandorf certainly appears to be one of those.
The Redskins are 5-0 overall, 4-0 in the WBL and ranked 12th in the latest AP Division II state poll.
O-G is 4-1 and 3-1, and is ranked 10th in Division IV.
Wapak, by all appearances, is walking into the proverbial hornets’ nest.
The Titans are coming off a tough 36-20 loss to the No. 1 ranked Kenton Wildcats, a game they were still in until the final minutes.
And O-G is looking to avenge a 42-21 loss to the Redskins a year ago on a week that was filled with turmoil for the Titan program.
Oh, and it’s Homecoming weekend in Ottawa.
“This is a very, very good football team,” Wapak coach Doug Frye said. “They’re big. They’re getting healthy now. They’ve had a number of players out with injuries and they’re all back now.
“They’ll be a matchup for us that is very difficult. It’ll be another road game at a difficult place to play, a team is a physical football team.”
Offensively the Titans are led by junior running back Tristan Parker (6-foot-1, 192 pounds). Parker has rushed for 654 yards on 97 carries (6.7 per carry) with three touchdowns.
Senior running back Brandon Kuhlman (5-10, 185) is back after coming off an ACL injury. He rushed for 1,000 yards as a sophomore.
And big fullback Craig Rieman (5-10, 245) gives the Titans a power threat in short yardage situations.
Junior quarterback Caleb Siefker has thrown for five touchdowns and rushed for five more scores. But he has shown he is vulnerable to interceptions, though. He threw three last week against Kenton to bring his season total to five.
O-G is a more run-focused team. But it has the ability to throw the ball as well and is more of a balanced attack than any team the Redskins have faced so far.
“The level of play just jumped up two notches,” Frye said. “What we have been doing is not going to be good enough to be successful.”
Wapak is improving in stopping the run. After giving up 284 yards to Bath Wildcats running back Aaron Smith in Week 3, the Redskins stymied Defiance’s Nick Lopez last week and held him to just 64 yards rushing.
“The challenge (against O-G) is a little bit different than with Aaron Smith and Lopez because they have other weapons to go with those kids,” Frye said.
Defensively the Titans are big and solid. They were third in the WBL in points allowed before the high-powered Kenton attack scored 36 points on them last week.
“I think sticking it at them every single play is going to be difficult to do,” Frye said. “We’re going have to execute better in the run game and at least be efficient in the passing game. They’re very good defensively. They’re very balanced defensively.”
Frye said his biggest concern with the Redskins has been a lack of consistent effort.
“I have not yet seen our team play with 48 minutes of passion and heart,” he said. “I’ve seen us play 24 or 36. I’ve seen seven of 11 guys do what’s needed, eight of 11.
“But in this game, to be a championship football team, you need all 11 on the field to play with heart and passion at all times.”
Frye admits he is a tough guy to please. But having run top-tier football programs and having raised two sons who used to break couches running tackling drills in the basement has gotten him used to having high-motor players around.
And that’s what he’s looking for.
“[That] is what I’ve lived with my entire life. This is just the way I’m programmed in. And there isn’t any other program that goes with it. ...
“We’ve seen flashes of what this team is capable of doing. But we’ve only seen flashes. What we need to do is get more consistent.”