Doug Frye can be counted as one who is surprised the St. Marys Roughriders are still winless this season.
The fourth-year Wapakoneta Redskins varsity football coach says his former team is much better this season than last season’s 0-10 St. Marys squad.
“This is a good football team,” Frye said of St. Marys. “Easily this team could have three or four wins at this point in the season.
“I think they’re much improved from last season,” he said. “That’s not coach-speak. That’s an honest opinion. They’re much better than a year ago.”
Defiance Bulldogs varsity coach Jerry Buti, after the Bulldogs recorded a 27-23 come-from-behind win last Friday over St. Marys, said he was stunned St. Marys was still winless as well.
“They are unexplainable how they’re 0-7,” Buti said last Friday. “You turn on the tape and you don’t think St. Marys is 0-7. I give them all the credit in the world and their coaches all the credit in the world for getting them to play that hard. It’s amazing.”
St. Marys varsity coach Greg Phillips has a hard time explaining how his team is 0-7.
The Roughriders had legitimate — or even probable in a few cases — chances to win in five of their seven losses.
“I’ve been doing this almost 30 years and I don’t have an explanation,” Phillips said. “Our kids play hard. We have a good game plan.
“I’ve talked to some guys who have been doing this longer than me and asked what we’re doing wrong and don’t get a good answer,” he said. “It’s my job to figure it out.”
Wapak and St. Marys will meet Friday in a Western Buckeye League contest in the two Auglaize County rivals’ annual game.
This will be Frye’s 15th game in the rivalry.
He was 9-2 with St. Marys and is 3-0 with Wapakoneta.
The Redskins (6-1) will seek their sixth straight win in order to continue their pursuit of a playoff berth.
Wapak was first overall in Division III, Region 10, in the computer ratings Tuesday, needing a top-eight finish in the region to qualify for the playoffs.
St. Marys is looking for its first win of the season and first since Week 9 of the 2011 season.
The Roughriders have lost four games by a total of 14 points this season.
The Week 7 loss to Defiance was perhaps the most painful. St. Marys led by 17 points late into the third quarter, only to watch Defiance score three touchdowns in the game’s final 14 minutes to stun the Riders 27-23 on Friday night at Skip Baughman Stadium.
St. Marys was a catch in the end zone in the final minute away from winning its opener at Sidney.
The Riders then lost to Shawnee by one point. St. Marys outgained both Bath and Celina in total yards in Weeks 5 and 6, only to have turnovers undermine the strong offensive efforts.
Wapak and St. Marys each run the wing-T offense.
Frye observed that the Roughriders aim to push the ball to the outside in some of their offensive sets.
“They’re a wing-T team, very similar to us,” Frye said. “They run a lot more one-back wing-T and try to utilize their speed to the perimeter. That’s probably the biggest difference than what we do.”
Wapakoneta typically exhibits at least two running backs in the offensive backfield in its wing-T formations.
The Roughriders have nearly all one-way starters.
“They’re two platoon, which has allowed them to improve immensely,” Frye said.
The exception is senior running back and safety Jared Knous (5-foot-9, 155 pounds).
“Knous is the best football player on the team,” Frye said. “You’ll see him on both sides of the ball. He returns kickoffs and returns punts. They’ll try to get the ball in his hands a great deal.”
Knous ran for 119 yards last Friday and has 298 yards rushing this season.
Knous leads the Roughriders with 47 tackles, five interceptions and seven pass break-ups.
Trent Wale (6-0, 220) leads the way on the ground with 521 yards rushing with four touchdowns.
“Wale, their fullback, is a good player,” Frye said. “Their lines, both ways, do a great job for them.”
The Evening Leader Sports Editor Brian Smith contributed to this story.