FINDLAY — The Wapakoneta Redskins received their first sense of an opposing force Saturday in their scrimmage of the 2013 season, as Wapak traveled to Findlay on Saturday morning to scrimmage against the Findlay Trojans and the Tiffin Columbian Tornadoes.
The Redskins scored two touchdowns against Columbian and allowed one touchdown to each team in the live down-and-distance session in the latter half of the scrimmage Saturday.
Wapak varsity coach Doug Frye graded his team’s performance Saturday.
“Overall, if I had to grade today, I graded us from 1 to 10, and I thought we were about a 6 today in the scrimmage,” Frye said Saturday. “I’d much rather be a 6 than a 3 or 4, and I wouldn’t expect us to be an 8 or 9 in the opening scrimmage either.
“I think we have something to build on. If we continue to work and have great leadership, then I think we have a chance to be a decent football team,” he said.
Midway through the two-hour scrimmage, the three varsity teams began the live down-and-distance session, without special teams involved.
Wapak’s defense forced Columbian off the field after four plays on the first live series, which concluded with Schmerge notching a tackle for loss.
The Redskins’ offense committed a turnover on a lost fumble by junior halfback Adam Henderson against Findlay’s defense.
Wapak then forced Findlay into a three-and-out on the next series, aided by two straight tackles for no gain by junior defensive end Thomas Schoenlein.
The Redskins’ offense returned to the field and managed their first scoring drive of the live session, as halfback Keaton Metz scored from 6 yards out on a 3rd-and-goal against Columbian. The drive was extended four plays earlier when junior quarterback Kodi Morgan weaved his way through the defense with a 5-yard run on 4th-and-5 to pick up a first down.
On the next series, Columbian’s offense punctured Wapak for a TD, needing just six plays to gain 70 yards on a scoring drive that began with three straight first downs.
Wapak’s offense manufactured a lengthy drive against Findlay on the next possession, but without the option to kick a field goal under normal game conditions, the 14-play drive ended on a failed 4th-and-goal attempt from the Findlay 13-yard line. The drive’s biggest play was a 15-yard completion from Morgan to Metz.
On the next series, the Redskins allowed another touchdown, on a 13-yard run against Findlay’s offense.
Wapak scored its second TD of the live session on its final series of Saturday’s scrimmage against Columbian.
Metz finished the 10-play drive with a 6-yard rushing TD. On the play before, senior fullback Schmerge gained a first down on a 4th-and-2 from the Columbian 10-yard line.
Wapak did not allow touchdowns until its final series of Saturday’s scrimmage.
Frye commented on the play of his defense Saturday.
“There were flashes out of our defense,” Frye said. “We’ve got to tackle a little bit better. It’s a hard thing to practice when you have limited bodies because you don’t want to get anybody hurt.”
The scrimmage began with each of the three varsity teams playing one series of 10 plays on both offense and defense against the two other teams. All series began at the defense’s 35-yard line, with the option to return the ball to the 35 after each play.
From his safety position, Morgan intercepted a pass near the goal line against Findlay during the Redskins’ first series of 10 plays on defense.
During their first series of 10 plays on offense, the Redskins posted one touchdown on a 17-yard passing from sophomore quarterback Aaron Huffman to Metz, against Columbian’s defense.
“I thought Huffman did an incredible job,” Frye said. “A sophomore who came in after playing freshman football last season and threw a touchdown pass, I was really impressed.”
On Wapak’s second offensive series, Schmerge lost a fumble near the goal line to the Findlay defense. The series was reset with the ball spotted at the Findlay 35-yard line.
Four plays later, Wapak junior fullback Jon Eaton scored on a 2-yard plunge, for the team’s second TD of the day.
In the final series of 10 plays, Henderson, at outside linebacker, recorded a sack against Columbian’s offense.
Frye described what the Redskins will need to improve on both offense and defense.
“From a defensive standpoint, we need to improve tackling, getting off blocks, defensive backs getting their heads around and making plays in the secondary,” Frye said. “From an offensive standpoint, we need to improve our overall consistency and finish. We have a new guard on the right side. We’ve got to get him acclimated. Our new players need to improve each day.”
Wapak will have less than one week to make the progress they need to before its next challenge, when Minster arrives at Harmon Field on Friday for the second and final scrimmage of the preseason.
The Redskins will open the regular season Aug. 30 at home against Bellefontaine.
NOTES: Frye commented on how Morgan fared after being inserted at quarterback following Huffman’s time at the position. “With Kodi and all of our players, we’ve got work to do. It’s a typical first scrimmage, but there were a lot of things we could build on and Kodi fit right into that mold.” … Wapak’s opponents Saturday combined for 19 wins last season. They operate from spread offenses, which Wapak will go against in its first three games in 2013, versus Bellefontaine, Kenton and Elida.