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It wasnât that long ago that a Wapakoneta/Elida matchup was considered an afterthought in the Western Buckeye League picture.
Not this year. And not this weekend.
After years of being also-rans, Wapak and Elida are now contenders.
The Redskins and the Bulldogs will square off at 7:30 tomorrow night in what is probably the biggest game in Week 1 of the WBL season.
When the question is asked â âCan anyone challenge Kenton this year?â â these are usually the first two names to enter the discussion.
And for good reason.
Gone are the days when Elida was the doormat of the WBL.
âMy last game in the regular season (at St. Marys) was against Elida and we pretty well handled them in that ballgame,â Wapak coach Doug Frye said. âI remember going across and talking to (Elida coach) Jason (Carpenter) and encouraging him to keep doing what he was doing.â
Carpenter has done just that.
Elida came into the 2011 season riding the wave of one of the best seasons in its history.
Led by senior quarterback Reggie McAdams, Carpenterâs Bulldogs appear poised for another playoff run.
âHeâs done a great job with their program,â Frye said.
McAdams (6-foot-6, 195 pounds) is headed to the University of Akron on a basketball scholarship. It could have just as easily been a football scholarship as a number of Division I schools drooled over his right arm.
âNo. 1 is his release. The ball just zings out of his hand,â Frye said. âThatâs something that, coaches can coach certain things. Thatâs something that coach Carpenter has bettered. But thatâs a natural release. It comes out of there quick and thereâs zip on it and the ball arrives quick.
âSecond of all is his intelligence on the field. You can tell heâs the leader of the football team. He gets the ball where it needs to go. He protects the football. He doesnât put his team in a bad situation.
âAnd third of all, just his size and athleticism. I didnât put that first. But I could have just as easily.â
McAdams opened the 2011 season with a 263-yard, five-touchdown performance in a 45-6 shellacking of the Detroit Henry Ford Trojans. He completed nearly 70 percent of his passes.
McAdams has no shortage of weapons at his disposal.
Austin Etzler caught five balls for 105 yards in Week 1. He had touchdown grabs of 39, 7 and 13 yards.
Brandon Stinson had six catches for 69 yards and a TD. Jeremy Newby had four catches for 60 yards.
âWe redesigned our defense to help with spread teams and make the adjustment into 2011,â Frye said. âWe threw with a lot of good football teams in 7-on-7âs during the summer. Weâve seen the spread in both scrimmages. We saw the spread in our opening game. So weâve seen the spread all summer.â
One of Fryeâs best weapons against the spread is the ability to eat up large chunks of clock by grinding it out on the ground.
His trio of running backs â Connor Pickens, Josh Windle and Jensen Merricle â combined for almost 300 yards in Week 1. Pickens had four TDs.
Spread teams typically present problems for running teams by scoring points in bunches and forcing them out of their typically methodical game plan.
But Wapak showed it is anything but a typical run-oriented team in its 48-0 win over Bellefontaine last week, scoring 21 points in a three-minute span with big plays on offense, defense and special teams.
âTime will tell. In the past, a lot of teams Iâve coached have had difficulty coming back,â Frye said. âBut we do have some kids who can put it in the end zone pretty quick now.â