Wapakoneta Redskins senior Zach Schmerge (22), crosses the goal line on his touchdown run Friday in a varsity football game against the St. Marys Roughriders at Harmon Field. (Staff photo/William Laney)
Sporting a replacement quarterback, the Wapakoneta Redskins landed three long touchdown passes to distance themselves on the scoreboard when Friday’s game was its closest.
Having seen the winless St. Marys Roughriders cut Wapak’s lead to 13-7 in the second quarter, the Redskins responded with three straight Aaron Huffman passes to Keaton Metz, one before halftime and two more to start the third quarter.
The third of the three aerials put Wapak in the lead at 35-7, as the Redskins’ recorded a 49-14 victory over St. Marys in Western Buckeye League varsity football action Friday.
The Redskins notched their sixth straight win, moving to 7-1 overall and 6-1 in the in the WBL.
The Roughriders, meanwhile, dropped to 0-8 overall and 0-7 in the league Friday.
The win gave Wapak its fourth straight win over St. Marys in the Auglaize County rivalry, while fourth-year Redskins varsity coach Doug Frye moved to 4-0 against St. Marys, his former school.
In this latest installment, Frye relied on Huffman, a sophomore, to replace Wapak’s usual starting quarterback, junior Kodi Morgan, who missed Friday’s game with an injury.
Huffman completed 6-of-11 passes for 160 yards Friday, with three TDs to Metz.
“I’m so proud of Aaron,” Frye said. “He played a JV game on Monday, and we thought Kodi was going to be ready to go but Tuesday we got the word he couldn’t go. All of the sudden he’s thrown to the wolves.
“There’s some things he knows he needs to get better on,” he said. “I was really impressed with his poise and the way he handled himself.”
Frye was uncertain how long Morgan would be sidelined.
Morgan’s hand and wrist is in a cast on his left arm.
“Our other quarterback Kodi will be back soon,” Frye said. “Aaron will be significantly better this week, too, because we concentrated on him getting the ball where it needed to be and letting our guys make plays.”
St. Marys’ defense attempted to load the box against the new starting quarterback and tried to force him to be successful through air instead of relying on the WBL’s leading rushing attack.
“We tried to load up in the box and stop the run, and he made a couple throws,” Phillips said. “I wouldn’t call them good throws or bad throws, but he got the job done. But what are you going to do? We’re not going to sit back and play the pass against the offensive line that they’ve got with a rookie quarterback under center.”
Metz’s three catches Friday all went for TDs totaling 138 yards. He also added 109 yards rushing in 13 attempts in three quarters of action.
Metz now has seven TDs in the last two games.
“If I could clone him I would,” Frye said. “That’s all I know.”
To start the game, the Redskins’ ground game and the offensive line’s protection gave Huffman plenty of time to relax, as Huffman settled into the position Friday.
Wapak posted two TDs on its first two possessions of the game.
Huffman opened Friday’s scoring with a 1-yard TD rush.
Senior running back Zach Schmerge managed a 62-yard rushing TD on Wapak’s second offensive series.
The Redskins were nearing what looked their third straight TD when Schmerge, on a 2nd-and-goal from the ‘Riders 1-yard line, fumbled the ball into St. Marys’ end zone, creating a touchback and giving St. Marys possession on its own 20.
The Roughriders converted the turnover into their first points, as they went 9 plays for 80 yards on a drive capped by a 7-yard TD run by senior running back Trent Wale.
Wapak led 13-7 after St. Marys’ first TD.
The Redskins answered with an important touchdown before halftime.
Huffman delivered a strike to Metz on a 44-yard TD pass five plays into Wapak’s next possession with 3:36 left in the second quarter, putting the Redskins ahead 21-7 after a successful 2-point conversion run by Metz.
“That’s what good teams do. They responded,” St. Marys varsity coach Greg Phillips said. “We went down and had a great drive, mixed the plays up and took it down and scored, and they turned around and responded.”
Frye said the halftime score was closer than he and the Redskins wished.
“I give a lot of credit to St. Marys, Greg Phillips and all of the Roughrider kids,” Frye said. “They’re struggling. Their kids played hard and with character. You can’t say enough good things about them.
“We felt we should have been farther ahead in the first half,” he said. “We continued to respond and not get negative.”
A punt and a turnover on downs by St. Marys set up 32- and a 62-yard passes from Huffman to Metz on Wapak’s first two second half possessions, increasing the Redskins lead to 35-7.
Cameron Lauck and Tyler Copeland each added rushing TDs for Wapak in the fourth quarter.
St. Marys quarterback Isaac Fitzgerald had a 1-yard TD rush for St. Marys between the Redskins’ two fourth quarter TDs.
The Redskins compiled 426 rushing yards Friday.
Schmerge led Wapak with 149 yards on 18 carries. He surpassed 100 yards with just over 9 minutes left in the second quarter and completed all of his carries 10 minutes into the second half.
Wapak’s defense forced St. Marys into six punts and one turnover Friday.
The Roughriders rushed for 245 yards, led by Trent Slife’s 110, and threw for 25.
Friday was the first time the Redskins faced a team which did not run a spread offense.
Frye said it was an adjustment for his defense.
“Overall, our defense was pretty good,” Frye said. “Like us, St. Marys creates a different challenge for you. We played spread teams the entire year. It’s an adjustment when you do that. We knew we’d have some difficulty with that.
“I thought overall our kids did a nice job,” he said.
Frye went 90-34 in 11 seasons as St. Marys coach from 1998-2008, including a state runner-up season in 2004.
“There were some special times for me in that community,” Frye said. “I still live there, and I love the community.”
Wapak will resume its schedule next Friday with road contest against the winless Van Wert Cougars (0-8) in WBL action.
St. Marys will search for its first win in Ottawa next Friday against the Ottawa-Glandorf Titans in league play.
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St. Marys: Trent Slife 14-110; Patrick Obringer 15-97; Trent Wale 10-31; Jared Knous 2-5; Isaac Fitzgerald 3-2; Randy Slife 1-0. Wapakoneta: Zach Schmerge 18-149; Keaton Metz 13-109; Jared Cockerell 5-53; Logan Martin 5-32; Dylan Kuehl 1-26; Cameron Lauck 2-23; Tyler Copeland 2-13; Aaron Huffman 4-13; Cort Merricle 1-8.
St. Marys: Fitzgerald 5-8 25. Wapakoneta: Huffman 6-11 160.
St. Marys: Trent Slife 1-14; Quinn Zaerr 1-12; Obringer 1-4; Knous 1-0; Wale 1-(-5). Wapakoneta: Metz 3-138; Schmerge 1-11; Quinn Lotridge 1-8; Martin 1-3.