Despite Van Wert finding itself in the red zone four times Friday night, the Wapakoneta Redskins came away with a shutout win on Senior Night.
Sophomore Kodi Morgan, in his second career start, had three touchdowns on the day, two through the air and one on the ground.
The Cougars, not able to put any points on the board, fell victim to the Redskins at Harmon field, 35-0.
“First of all let’s talk about our defense, our kids are playing really well defensively, and that’s what really stands out about our football team,” Frye said.
The Wapakoneta offense out-gained the Van Wert offense, 449-248, but the ball game was largely a field position battle that went in favor of the home team.
“I think the last couple of weeks we’ve had an advantage out of our special teams, and we talk about that every week, and we practice it first,” Frye said.
The special teams for the Van Wert Cougars had their share of troubles, and with seven punts on the evening, they only averaged 22.9 yards per punt, giving the Redskins great field position all night.
On one punt, Luke Stevens had pressure from the Redskins, but found trouble in the form of his own team. His punt hit the backside of the up-back and Wapak’s Thomas Schoenlein fell on the ball to give Wapakoneta good field position.
It seemed like Van Wert couldn’t catch a break all evening, even when they did catch a glimpse of a break. Finding themselves backed up on their own 14-yard line, Van Wert quarterback Tyler Williams found wide receiver Logan Ray for 66 yards down the left side, but four plays later turned the ball over on an interception by Johnny Crawford.
Another time, on the 5-yard line going in, Van Wert looked like they were about to score, but on the first play in the red zone on that drive, the center snapped the ball and it hit his backside and Wapakoneta defenders fell on the ball.
Other trips to the end zone ended in an interception by Alex Greve, or on the final possession the clock was the defense that kept the Cougars off the board.
“Our young kids came out and kept the shutout,” Frye said. “Our varsity guys were really rooting for that, and I thought the Van Wert kids played really well tonight. They are well coached. But I was really proud of our defensive kids.”
Morgan in his second start was able to dig deeper in the playbook and show off more weapons in his arsenal. He went 14-of-22 on the evening for 193 yards and two passing touchdowns. He added 32 yards on the ground and a running touchdown.
“We tried to put the ball in Kodi (Morgan’s) hands a lot more tonight, and really for us it was a complete practice for us in the second half,” Frye said. “We wanted to get him under the gun a lot more.”
But this game was really decided by the solid efforts of the defense.
“I thought today, if you have to put it in order, I thought our defense did extremely well, our special teams did a great job, and our offense is having its moments,” Frye said. “There are moments here and there with the offense.”
Frye said there were sparks of greatness on the offense, including a 34-yard touchdown pass from Morgan to senior running back Jenson Merricle or a 12-yard strike from Morgan to senior tight end Brandon Christler in the fourth quarter.
“Today we needed to get a game where we needed to get (Morgan) as much pressure work as possible, and right to the end we needed to give Kodi (Morgan) as much work as we could.”
Merricle eclipsed the century mark on the ground again Friday night, running the ball 17 times for 102 yards. His night included two big highlights, one on the reception from Morgan in the second quarter and the other on the first offensive play of the second half for the Redskins, when Merricle busted through the left side of the line and out ran everyone to the pylon for a 42-yard score.
Frye said it was nice for the Redskins to get a big win on senior night.
On defense, the squad Frye said he felt played the best, senior linebacker Brandon Miller orchestrated an almost flawless game, giving up only 6 first downs the entire evening.
“Brandon Miller is a super leader and he came in a contributed offensively, and I thought he did a whale of a job for us, he’s a great kid,” Frye said.
Miller, when the second-team defense was in the game closing things out, could be heard on the sidelines, coaching louder than any coaches were.
“Don’t let that tight end off the line!”
With eight weeks done in the Redskin’s season, Wapakoneta will try to finish things out strong in the last two weeks of the season. Next week, Frye and the Redskins host the Shawnee Indians before heading to Kenton two weeks from now for the season finale.
The Redskins (5-3, 4-3 WBL) have an outside shot at a playoff spot, currently at 13 in region 8. Wapakoneta will need a lot of help around the league in addition to winning the rest of its games to have a chance.
“It was a nice night, the fans here at Wapakoneta did a tremendous job supporting our team tonight, and I’m proud of our community, proud of our fans, proud of our kids and I’m proud of our coaches tonight,” Frye said.