The Western Buckeye League’s leading rushing team had virtually no issues against the league’s worst run defense Friday, as the Wapakoneta Redskins gained 473 yards on the ground against the winless Van Wert Cougars in their 61-20 win in varsity football action at Eggerss Stadium in Van Wert, on a night when the temperature slowly descended toward freezing.
Friday’s win was Wapakoneta’s seventh consecutive, moving the Redskins to 8-1 overall and 7-1 in the WBL.
Van Wert, meanwhile, remained winless for the 2013 season, dropping to 0-9 overall and 0-8 in the league.
Despite scoring a season-high 61 points on offense, the Redskins were, however, vulnerable at times on defense against the Cougars, as Van Wert’s offense compiled 300 yards Friday.
Wapak still managed to keep a safe distance in the lead on the scoreboard throughout the game, with the help of four turnovers and the dominating rushing attack.
“I’d like to compliment Coach Recker. He’s kept his kids’ spirits up,” Wapak varsity coach Doug Frye said. “His kids played awful hard tonight.
“I don’t think this was our best effort by any means,” he said. “The kids were disappointed tonight, not in the score, but just the overall effort and our improvement. We’ll go back and work on the little things.”
The Cougars’ spread offense ran a variety of jet sweeps, zone reads and shovel option passes Friday.
Van Wert sophomore quarterback Colin Smith threw for 161 yards and three TDs and also ran for 68 yards.
Two of Smith’s TDs went to senior Michael Smelser, who had three catches for 82 yards Friday.
Cougars senior receiver Terrence Branson tallied 117 yards total offense on 11 touches.
Smith, Smelser and Branson each ran through the Wapak defense in spurts Friday.
“Schematically, I think we were all set,” Frye said about his defense. “We didn’t execute, play hard enough and do the little things like we should have.”
On the offensive side of the ball, the Redskins had two rushers exceed 100 yards Friday, including senior fullback Zach Schmerge, who eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark on the season and approached 200 yards rushing Friday in limited offensive action.
Schmerge gained 180 yards rushing on just 11 carries Friday.
Wapak junior halfback Keaton Metz tallied 107 yards and three rushing touchdowns, adding a 28-yard TD reception.
“Keaton did a nice job,” Frye said. “But, overall, we had a lot of sparks, offensively.”
Wapak had 11 different ball carriers Friday.
The Redskins also used an ember on defense to get the team going.
Smith threw an interception to Schmerge on the third play from scrimmage Friday.
The Redskins converted the turnover into their first points four plays later on an 18-yard run by Metz on a fourth down.
Van Wert punted on its next two series, setting up two more Wapak’s TDs in the first quarter.
A 22-yard run by Schmerge down to the Van Wert 4-yard line set up a 1-yard TD run by sophomore Aaron Huffman on a quarterback sneak.
Schmerge broke off a 34-yard run to set Wapak up with a 1st-and-goal at the Van Wert 5-yard line. Metz scored the next play to put the Redskins up 21-0.
Van Wert scored for the first time on its next possession, with Smith completed a 29-yard pass to Smelser.
The Redskins responded with a 5-play drive ending in Metz’s third rushing TD of the game, a 29-yarder.
The two teams exchanged punts before a Cougars fumble set up Wapak’s final TD of the first half.
Huffman found Metz along the left hash for a 28-yard TD connection inside 2 minutes remaining in the second quarter, giving Wapak a 34-6 lead.
On the first play of the second half, Schmerge pulled off a 61-yard TD run.
Van Wert answered with Smith’s second TD pass to Smelser.
Redskins senior Logan Martin then notched a 1-yard TD run with 26 seconds left in the third quarter to put Wapak up 47-13.
Smith added his third passing TD of the game on Van Wert’s next series, a 25-yard pass to Nicholas Krugh, as Van Wert kept antagonizing the Redskins.
The Redskins’ second-teamers played the entire fourth quarter.
Sophomore running backs Jared Cockerell and Cort Merricle rushed for one TD each in the final period for Wapak.
Casey Stauffer, Garrett Hale and Nate Elsass each recovered one fumble Friday for the Redskins.
Huffman started at quarterback for the second straight game, as junior Kodi Morgan sat out Friday with an injury to his non-throwing arm which kept him out of last Friday’s game against St. Marys.
Huffman went 2-for-2 passing with 38 yards and one TD.
“Aaron Huffman has done a great, great job filling in for Kodi,” Frye said. “Kodi is back now, so we have two good quarterbacks.”
Morgan dressed in uniform Friday but did not play.
“The good news is we’re getting healthy,” Frye said Friday.
Morgan, although he didn’t play Friday, has been cleared to return and will play next Friday against Shawnee, Frye said.
Schmerge was banged up earlier in the week.
He sat for Wapak’s first offensive series and rested the entire fourth quarter.
“Zach Schmerge was banged up during the week,” Frye said. “He came out and gave a gutsy effort.”
Wapak senior tight end Jared Smith will return to action next week as well.
Smith sat out the last two games with an injury.
Wapak will face Shawnee next Friday in the final regular season game.
Shawnee enters the game with a 2-7 record and a 2-6 mark in the WBL after a 21-14 loss Friday.
Kenton (9-0, 8-0), after its 28-14 win Friday over Celina, clinched at least a share of the WBL title.
Celina (7-2, 6-2) fell out of a tie for second place in the league with Wapak, whose lone WBL loss is to Kenton.
Van Wert will play winless St. Marys next Friday in a matchup that will give the victor its first win of the season in the 2013 finale.
Wapakoneta: Zach Schmerge 11-180; Keaton Metz 14-107; Jared Cockerell 6-50; Cameron Lauck 2-30; Logan Martin 3-27; Cort Merricle 2-21; Tyler Copeland 7-21; Dylan Kuehl 5-16; Ethan Good 2-13; Aaron Huffman 5-7; Jon Eaton 1-1. Van Wert: Colin Smith 18-68; Terrence Branson 7-65; Chandler Adams 3-8; Justice Tussing 4-0; Mason Carr 3-(-2).
Wapakoneta: Huffman 2-2 38. Van Wert: Smith 11-20 161.
Wapakoneta: Metz 1-28; Nate Posada 1-10. Van Wert: Michael Smelser 3-82; Branson 4-52; Nicholas Krugh 2-21; Ryan Stoller 1-5; Tussing 1-1.