ST. MARYS — It may have been pouring down rain and hovering just around 45 degrees Friday night, but it didn’t seem to bother the Redskins.
In unison, the Wapakoneta High School team ran and slid through the water and mud on the surface of Skip Baughman field following a 14-0 win over the St. Marys Roughriders.
Wapakoneta varsity football coach Doug Frye said the conditions were tough, but he was proud of how his team handled the adversity.
“Just tough conditions tonight, it was a tough night for our quarterback, Kodi Morgan who started his first game ever tonight,” Frye said. “I thought that coach Phillips and St. Marys did a heck of a job, I thought their kids played extremely hard and kept them in the ball game.”
Sophomore Kodi Morgan got his first start at the quarterback position after senior quarterback Kyle Gibson went down with an ankle injury last week.
Gibson will not return this season.
“I was proud of Kodi, he had some problems tonight with the rain,” Frye said. “But overall, really solid job.”
Morgan said he felt nervous before the start of the game.
“Going out there, I’m going to be honest, I felt the butterflies, but once I got out there on the first drive it felt really good,” Morgan said.
Due to the rain, mud, coldness or whatever reason, this game was hard-fought, and mostly played in the trenches of the lines.
“We just had to be more patient and stick to what we do on offense,” Frye said.
Wapakoneta had several chances in Roughrider territory, but for several different reasons — fumbles, turnovers on down, and failed fake field goals — had trouble punching it in.
Frye and the coaching staff dialed up a play he said he’s used a few times in the past: the hook and lateral.
“We’ve used that (hook and lateral) through the years,” Frye said. “Two seniors Johnny Crawford and Alex Greve executed the play to perfection.”
Morgan found Crawford around St. Marys 16 yard line, and flipped it to a sprinting Greve who went untouched to the end zone.
“It was a great pass by Kodi in the first place, especially in those conditions, and a great catch by Johnny and he just flipped it back and it was wide open,” Greve said. “We were having trouble getting it into the end zone, and it worked.”
Frye also dialed up another trick play on the night, a halfback pass.
“Sophomore Adam Henderson came in there and made the halfback pass and did a great job with that,” Frye said.
Well, technically, Frye had to call that play twice.
“It’s kind of funny, the first time we tried calling that play, he took in the play and he was so nervous he called the wrong formation,” Frye said. “So I give him a lot of credit for weathering the circumstances and getting the job done.”
Because of the weather, throwing the ball was not a great idea, and Wapakoneta kept it on the ground as much as possible.
“We’ll be able to open it up more when the weather isn’t like this,” Morgan said. “Of course we had to pack it under center tonight because of the weather.”
Defensively, the Redskins played a nearly flawless game. Crawford had an interception, the team had a fumble recovery, and the Redskin defense held the Roughriders to two first downs the entire game.
“I’m extremely proud of all our defensive players, our young guys stepped up and our seniors played like seniors, it was a great win for us,” said senior linebacker Brandon Miller. “We game-planned for them, and we executed everything right.”
Offensively, senior running back Jenson Merricle seemed to carry the load for the Redskins, running the ball 28 times for 163 yards. Senior running back Josh Windle had seven carries for 29 yards and Greve had six carries for 25 yards.
“These are senior running backs, Greve, Merricle and Windle. They were the difference in the game, because they took care of the ball,” Frye said.
Merricle had been having a couple of off games coming into Friday’s match, and he took over.
“We challenged Merricle this week to take it up a notch,” Frye said. “With a young quarterback in there we thought we needed to get better play out of him. He needed to get back to where he was earlier in the season.”
“I felt good, I thought my offensive line did a great job opening up the holes for me, I just ran through them,” Merricle said after the game.
“Great to have a win against St. Marys,” Merricle said.