VAN WERT â€” It wasnâ€™t the greatest of starts.
Fortunately for the Wapakoneta Redskins, the Van Wert Cougars arenâ€™t the greatest of football teams.
Wapak fumbled the ball away on two if its first three plays but bounced back and dominated in a 77-12 shellacking of the Cougars in a Western Buckeye League game Friday night at Eggerss Stadium in Van Wert.
The Redskinsâ€™ 77 points eclipsed the previous single-game scoring record of 62 points set in a win over Perry in 1967.
The Redskins remained unbeaten on the season at 8-0 overall and 7-0 in the WBL. Van Wert is 0-8, 0-7.
â€śI feel for Van Wert tonight,â€ť Wapak coach Doug Frye said. â€śI think [coach] Bob Priest is doing a very good job with them. Itâ€™s just the circumstances right now.â€ť
Wapakâ€™s 646 total yards of offense was also a record, breaking the previous mark of 593, also set in the 1967 win over Perry.
The Redskins gained 518 of those on the ground to break the single-game record of 486 set in a 1965 win over Dayton-Kiser.
But the two fumbles, as well as nine penalties for 80 yards, left a bit of a bad taste in Fryeâ€™s mouth.
â€śWe need to get better quickly if weâ€™re going to continue to win, is the way I evaluate tonight, from a focus standpoint and an effort standpoint,â€ť Frye said. â€śItâ€™s funny you say that in a 77-point game. But I was not pleased with our first half of football.â€ť
Even the Redskinsâ€™ first touchdown came on a broken play. Junior quarterback Kyle Gibson scooped up a fumbled shotgun snap, rolled to his right and found an open Johnny Crawford, who made a diving catch at the goal line for the score.
After a Van Wert fumble, senior running back Connor Pickens capped a six-play, 41-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown run.
â€śI was so impressed with their offensive line,â€ť Priest said. â€śThey come off the ball and, my land, they come off the ball hard. ... They certainly controlled the line of scrimmage.â€ť
Wapak led 14-0 after one quarter and 35-0 at the half.
The defense held Van Wert to just 69 yards in the first half, allowing no more than 19 yards on any one Cougarsâ€™ possession in that span.
The Redskins added four more touchdowns in the third to take a 63-0 lead before Van Wert finally scored against the second-team defense late in the third quarter.
â€śIt was nice in the third quarter,â€ť Frye said. â€śBut it takes four quarters to win a championship. So weâ€™re going to send that message loud and clear.â€ť
The Wapak coaching staff began rotating the starters out midway through the third quarter.
The junior varsity offense got plenty of reps. Junior quarterback Brandon Erb played more than a quarter but didnâ€™t attempt a pass as Wapak was content to run out the clock.
Sophomore running back Zerrick Brannan ran for touchdowns of 30, 14 and 4 yards.
Sophomore Kaleb Huffman added a 5-yard touchdown run.
Even Brazilian exchange student Igor Pontes â€” who had never even seen an American football game before arriving in Wapakoneta less than two weeks before the start of the football season â€” got to play in the win.
â€śItâ€™s immensely important [to get the junior varsity players varsity playing time] and I thought those kids did a wonderful job tonight,â€ť Frye said. â€śThese are opportunities for them to get under the lights. They work awful hard and I was proud of the way they played tonight.â€ť
Wapak will travel to Shawnee next Friday to take on the Indians (4-4 overall, 3-4 WBL).