FOOTBALL: 'Skins have their eyes on Celina QB
Time to shift gears.
Last week it was Bath’s bruising back Aaron Smith.
Friday night it will be Celina Bulldogs quarterback Braden Billger and his arsenal of weapons.
The spread offense is coming back to Harmon Field when the 3-0 Wapakoneta Redskins host 0-3 Celina in a Week 4 Western Buckeye League matchup.
And the Redskins defense could have its hands full with Billger.
The junior quarterback has thrown for 820 yards on 70 of 124 (56.5 percent) with seven touchdowns and three interceptions already this season.
He has thrown scoring strikes to four different receivers.
“Their offense is all over the place, probably more so than Elida,” Wapak coach Doug Frye said. “They’re going to throw it more than Elida and maybe not run with their quarterback quite so much. ... The ball is going to be in the air probably 5 to 10 more times than we saw with Elida.”
Don’t let Celina’s 0-3 record fool you. All three losses have been by a touchdown or less.
In Week 1, it took a last-second field goal by Versailles’ Chad Winner to upend the Bulldogs, 31-28.
Then Celina took the undefeated Ottawa-Glandorf Titans down to the wire before a late Craig Reiman touchdown preserved the 34-28 O-G win.
Last week, the Bulldogs jumped out to a 20-0 lead on Defiance before the other Bulldogs scored 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to pull out a 42-34 win.
“What jumps at you is that they’ve been way ahead of teams and are just snake-bit to be 0-3 right now,” Frye said.
A year ago the Bulldogs handed Wapak a 22-13 defeat in Celina. Billger threw for 287 yards as the Bulldogs outgained the Redskins 368-234.
Because of that, there is — or at least should be — little chance the Redskins will overlook the winless Bulldogs despite having Defiance, Ottawa-Glandorf and rival St. Marys on the docket over the next three weeks.
“I’m hoping that our kids realize that this is a one-game-at-a-time season,” Frye said. “Because this Western Buckeye League is a gauntlet.”
One area Wapak will definitely need to address is turnovers.
Last week the Redskins gave the ball away four times. Senior running back Connor Pickens, coming off his record-setting performance in Week 2, fumbled the ball four times and lost three. And quarterback Kyle Gibson threw an interception.
In spite of that, the Redskins pulled out the 14-13 win.
“It says a lot about your kids’ character,” Frye said. “And it also says a lot about the potential of our team. ... But we’ve got to clean that up.”
A year ago Wapak had a plus-19 turnover ratio.
So far this year that number is almost even.
Pickens has been the centerpiece of the Wapak offense so far this year. He has rushed for 566 yards and six touchdowns.
Kevin Kraft has provided the spark in the “fling” part of the Wing-and-Fling offense, hauling in a 66-yard touchdown pass from Gibson against Bath.
Look for Frye to try to utilize Kraft even more in Week 4.
“We need to make sure get our skill athletes an opportunity to make plays,” Frye said. “We need to make plays in the passing game and become basically a two-headed monster. I believe we’re getting close to that. ....
“We’re going to continue to work in some more athletes on the offense side of the ball.”
Frye says there is also room for improvement at the offensive line.
“I don’t think we consistently blocked well on the O-line,” Frye said. “Not that it was a poor performance. But it wasn’t where I want us to be at yet.
“Some of the credit has to go to Bath. I’m also hesitant and realize that your opponent has something to do with that. And I think front-wise, Bath was the best front that we had faced the entire year.”
Celina and Wapak will kick off at 7:30.