FOOTBALL: Wapak braces for smash-mouth matchup at Bath
Making the trip to Bath High School on Friday?
You might want to pack your mouth guard.
Between Connor Pickens and Aaron Smith, some fillings are going to get rattled.
Wapakoneta’s Pickens and Bath’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 Bath’s 49-35 win at Defiance.
The strategy with both runners is simple — square up with the line and run over people.
“They’re a typical Bath football team where they’re physical in the trenches,” Wapak coach Doug Frye said. “They have a very good linebacker corp and match up with our run game. So it’s definitely going to be a stark contrast from previous weeks’ ballgames. It’s going to be two very physical teams going after it.”
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.
Bellefontaine’s leading rusher was 5-foot-9, 157-
pound Dorion Hughes, who ran for 27 yards on seven carries in Week 1.
Elida’s Colin Blymyer (5-7, 165) gained 86 yards on 11 carries.
Hughes and Blymyer are Mini Coopers to Smith’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.
“We haven’t even really scrimmaged a team that just came after us,” Frye said. “Our 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 that’s going to be a challenge.”
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.
“He’s big, but not as big as Smith,” Frye said. “I don’t know of a running back that really is. He’s very similar. Just a younger version of Smith, basically.”
Experienced senior Brad Davis (6-0, 165) quarterbacks the Wildcats offense.
“He’s a kid that can make some plays too,” Frye said. “It’s not just Smith. ... They’re big in the trenches. They’re physical on both sides. I really believe this is the best Bath team they’ve had in many, many years.”
The Redskins’ trench play hasn’t been anything to sneeze at. Wapak’s offensive line took over the game in the second half of the win over line, opening huge holes for Pickens.
“We took a big step in the right direction,” Frye said.
Wapak also faces the challenge of refocusing after last week’s emotional win over the Bulldogs.
“Every message we’ve sent all year has been level of consistency,” Frye said. “No matter if things are good or bad, we’re going to come back the same way and work the same way.”