WAYNESFIELD — If the first week is any implications of what is to come in week two, the Waynesfield-Goshen Tigers could be in for another game of offensive highlight reels against Fort Recovery.
The Tigers have taken deep steps with their football program, winning 51 games in the last seven years. However, an often less-than-impressive schedule often left them untested. As a result, the school’s first playoff win in their history has still eluded them despite their regular season success.
About three years ago, the coaching staff began to formulate a plan to take care of that problem.
“We knew upping our schedule was something we had to do,” coach Gary Spencer said. “The league just has been so top and bottom heavy. The better the teams you start playing, the better you get.”
In addition to adding Fort Loramie and Sidney Lehman to the league slate for next year, the Tigers have also began to line up games with teams from the powerful Midwest Athletic Conference. This year, they have lined up Fort Recovery, a team that was explosive offensively in week one. Two priorities for the Tigers will be stopping Aaron Vagedes, one of the league’s top scorers a year ago, and Kenny Wenning. The pair combined for five touchdowns in week one. However, Spencer said the team plans to address that by taking care of their own rather than focusing on individual players.
“We try not to focus on opponents as much as we focus on ourselves,” Spencer said. “One of our keys will be to stop the big play. We had a lot of third-and-longs defensively last week that turned into first downs.
“We had 24 first downs last week, and any time you have that many you should be winning a football game.”
While Fort Recovery ran amuck up and down the field with solid totals in both rushing (310) and passing (118) yards, the Tigers turned in an impressive offensive day on their own. They tallied 221 yards on the ground and 126 through the air.
The one big hole in the Indians first week performance was that they were susceptible through the air, allowing 194 yards through the air defensively. That could bode well for Tiger signal-caller Garrett Miller, who was impressive in his first varsity start at times.
“He was everything we thought he would be,” Spencer said. “He was not afraid to put the shoulder down, and he has a tremendous arm.”
While passing for 126 yards, Miller also led the team on the ground with 83 rushing yards.
Another key focus will be injuries, as the Tigers first week game was stopped several times due to injured or cramping players. To add to the problem, linebacker Gabe Wilcox suffered a broken wrist in practice this week although he was given the okay to play.
“We don’t have a lot of depth this year,” Spencer said. “It will be key to stay healthy. Probably the biggest thing in this game will be which team will be able to withstand the heat and stay healthy.”
Spencer said the defense will need to stay focused as the Indians run a single-back offense that runs and passes at about a 50/50 split.
“Its nothing fancy,” he said. “They just try to do it better than you.”
The team kicking game was also a focus this week as several shanked punts led to Triad getting great field position on a number of occasions.
“That just comes with confidence and understanding,” Spencer said. “We use a rugby-type punt and we have a sophomore who is trying to learn. We will get bigger and better things as the season progresses.”