FOOTBALL: Wapak braces for smash-mouth matchup at Bath
Making the trip to Bath High School on Friday?
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You might want to pack your mouth guard.
Between Connor Pickens and Aaron Smith, some fillings are going to get rattled.
Wapakonetaâ€™s Pickens and Bathâ€™s Smith will take center stage as the feature backs when the Redskins and the Wildcats square off at 7:30 in a Western Buckeye League football game.
In Week 2 wins, Pickens and Smith combined for 550 rushing yards and six touchdowns.
Pickens totalled 267 yards on 33 carries with two touchdowns in a 29-18 win over Elida.
And Smith carried the ball 24 times for 283 yards and five touchdowns in Bathâ€™s 49-35 win at Defiance.
The strategy with both runners is simple â€” square up with the line and run over people.
â€śTheyâ€™re a typical Bath football team where theyâ€™re physical in the trenches,â€ť Wapak coach Doug Frye said. â€śThey have a very good linebacker corp and match up with our run game. So itâ€™s definitely going to be a stark contrast from previous weeksâ€™ ballgames. Itâ€™s going to be two very physical teams going after it.â€ť
Smith presents a new problem for Wapak in terms of the 2011 season. In two games the Redskins have squared off against two pass-happy spread offenses.
Bellefontaineâ€™s leading rusher was 5-foot-9, 157-
pound Dorion Hughes, who ran for 27 yards on seven carries in Week 1.
Elidaâ€™s Colin Blymyer (5-7, 165) gained 86 yards on 11 carries.
Hughes and Blymyer are Mini Coopers to Smithâ€™s M1-A1 Abrams tank.
The Bath senior checks in at 5-10 and 230. He was the WBL wrestling runner-up in the heavyweight division as a junior.
â€śWe havenâ€™t even really scrimmaged a team that just came after us,â€ť Frye said. â€śOur defense gets a lot of that in practice from us. But throughout the scrimmage season and the game season, we have not faced a team that comes after us like that. So thatâ€™s going to be a challenge.â€ť
Smith missed Week 1 with an injury. But in his absence, 6-0, 195-pound sophomore Keanu James racked up 152 yards and four TDs in a 40-6 win over Allen East.
â€śHeâ€™s big, but not as big as Smith,â€ť Frye said. â€śI donâ€™t know of a running back that really is. Heâ€™s very similar. Just a younger version of Smith, basically.â€ť
Experienced senior Brad Davis (6-0, 165) quarterbacks the Wildcats offense.
â€śHeâ€™s a kid that can make some plays too,â€ť Frye said. â€śItâ€™s not just Smith. ... Theyâ€™re big in the trenches. Theyâ€™re physical on both sides. I really believe this is the best Bath team theyâ€™ve had in many, many years.â€ť
The Redskinsâ€™ trench play hasnâ€™t been anything to sneeze at. Wapakâ€™s offensive line took over the game in the second half of the win over line, opening huge holes for Pickens.
â€śWe took a big step in the right direction,â€ť Frye said.
Wapak also faces the challenge of refocusing after last weekâ€™s emotional win over the Bulldogs.
â€śEvery message weâ€™ve sent all year has been level of consistency,â€ť Frye said. â€śNo matter if things are good or bad, weâ€™re going to come back the same way and work the same way.â€ť