Take a moment to familiarize yourself with Nick Lopez’s name.
You’re going to hear a lot of it Friday night when the Wapakoneta Redskins travel to Defiance to take on the Bulldogs in a Western Buckeye League varsity football matchup.
He runs the ball, he catches the ball, he defends, he plays special teams.
“I read one of [Defiance] Coach [Jerry] Buti’s comments a few weeks ago and he said the No. 1 thing they do when they go to an away game is make sure Nick Lopez is on the bus before they pull out,” Wapak coach Doug Frye said. “So in this case they’ll probably make sure Nick Lopez is in the lockerroom early enough and he’s ready to go. And he has a legitimate point because that young man is very talented.”
Lopez has rushed for 577 yards (144.3 per game) with eight touchdowns this season. The 5-foot-8, 160-pound senior has eight receptions for 130 yards.
He is second on the team in tackles with 35. And he has returned three kickoffs for 77 yards.
No stats were available on how much popcorn he sells at halftime.
“Nick Lopez is going to get the ball at least 75 percent of the time and maybe 80 percent of the time, whether it’s run or pass,” Frye said. “The No. 1 thing we’d better do defensively is at least hold Lopez down. I have a lot of respect watching him play. ...
“[He is] an exceptional player and we’ll have our hands full stopping him.”
Defiance is coming off an uncharacteristic down season. The Bulldogs were 1-9 overall and 1-8 in the WBL a year ago.
They are currently 2-2 and 1-2, with wins over Napoleon and Celina and losses to Bath and Ottawa-Glandorf.
Last week O-G’s Tristan Parker rushed for 244 yards on 23 carries as the Titans crushed Defiance 42-7.
While that might bode well for Wapak’s Wing-T trio of Connor Pickens, Josh Windle and Kevin Kraft, don’t expect Defiance to roll over defensively.
“We had some classic matchups when I coached next door [at St. Marys],” Frye said. “It’s never easy to attack Coach Buti’s defense because they’re going to blitz you and come upfield. And if you allow them to dictate the tempo of the game, then you’re in for a long night.
“We’re a little bigger than them in the trenches as we have been for the most part this season. But we have to be able to handle their speed and their blitzing and their athleticism.”
If Frye and offensive coordinator Mark Law are planning on implementing more of the “Fling” into the Wing-and Fling offense, they’re keeping their cards pretty close to the vest.
“Our No. 1 objective os to win the game,” Frye said. “So whatever it takes to win the football game we’re going to do. As I said before the season and as we progressed from Game 5 last year on, that is definitely part of our attack and a part that we want to grow.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30.