VAN WERT — It wasn’t the greatest of starts.
Fortunately for the Wapakoneta Redskins, the Van Wert Cougars aren’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 Redskins’ 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.
“I feel for Van Wert tonight,” Wapak coach Doug Frye said. “I think [coach] Bob Priest is doing a very good job with them. It’s just the circumstances right now.”
Wapak’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 Frye’s mouth.
“We need to get better quickly if we’re going to continue to win, is the way I evaluate tonight, from a focus standpoint and an effort standpoint,” Frye said. “It’s funny you say that in a 77-point game. But I was not pleased with our first half of football.”
Even the Redskins’ 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.
“I was so impressed with their offensive line,” Priest said. “They come off the ball and, my land, they come off the ball hard. ... They certainly controlled the line of scrimmage.”
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 Cougars’ 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.
“It was nice in the third quarter,” Frye said. “But it takes four quarters to win a championship. So we’re going to send that message loud and clear.”
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 didn’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 — who had never even seen an American football game before arriving in Wapakoneta less than two weeks before the start of the football season — got to play in the win.
“It’s immensely important [to get the junior varsity players varsity playing time] and I thought those kids did a wonderful job tonight,” Frye said. “These are opportunities for them to get under the lights. They work awful hard and I was proud of the way they played tonight.”
Wapak will travel to Shawnee next Friday to take on the Indians (4-4 overall, 3-4 WBL).