Wauseon and Archbold will continue their rivalry on the gridiron this Friday when the Indians welcome the Blue Streaks in the league opener for both teams.
With both teams off to strong starts, this match-up figures to go a long way towards deciding the Northwest Ohio Athletic League title.
“It should be a really good game. This is the best team we have faced thus far, and then you throw in the fact that it is our rival, it has the making of (a) real battle,” said Wauseon coach Travis Cooper. “No one wants to start league play 0-1. Both teams have large senior classes, so I’m expecting a really good football game.”
“As always, this rivalry game between us and Wauseon is one in which you can throw records out the window,” stated Archbold mentor David Dominique. “This has been a one-sided affair over the past four years, and we know what to expect from Wauseon. They will play physical, fundamentally sound football to go along with a great coaching staff and this is why they have been one of the best programs in the NWOAL for quite some time.”
Wauseon closed out the non-league portion of their schedule with a 28-23 comeback win at Henry County rival Napoleon last Friday to move to 3-0 on the season.
The Indians have won the last four meetings over the Streaks.
They go into the contest having outscored their non-league opponents 97-37.
On offense, Wauseon will be led by their three-man rushing attack. Everett Bueter is at the forefront for that group, garnering 297 rushing yards through three games, while averaging 9 yards per carry and scoring six times.
Xavier Torres has just 16 carries on the season, but has accumulated 149 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Junior Martinez is the Indians’ second leading rusher with 243 yards and three TDs.
Starting quarterback Hunter Yackee has only 217 yards passing with one touchdown and an interception on the season, so unless the Indians have some new wrinkles for the Streaks, don’t expect their passing game to be the difference.
“Improve on our pass protection and make them defend the field sideline to sideline and vertically,” said Cooper on the keys for his offense this week. They cannot have that costly turnover, and must limit penalties this week, he added.
Most of the points given up by the Wauseon defense came last week versus the Wildcats. That’s because they shut out Tinora the week before, and allowed only one offensive TD to Fairview in week 1.
But, coach Cooper still has areas he wants his defense to improve on for the big game this week. For instance, they must eliminate the big play.
“Last week, we gave up four big plays (against Napoleon),” he said. “They all led to points.”
Archbold (2-1) will bring a more balanced offense in to face the Indians at Harmon Field this week.
Quarterback Gabe Petersen is a dual threat, completing 45 percent (18 for 40) of his passes for 357 yards and two TDs to one interception. However, he is their leading rusher as well with 416 yards on 59 carries and six TDs.
His twin brother Sam Petersen is the Streaks’ second leading rusher at 304 yards on 51 carries and six TDs.
Their leading receiver is Nic Rodriguez who has 193 yards over the first three games with a TD on just nine catches.
“In order to be successful Friday night, our team is going to have to limit the mental mistakes – penalties and turnovers – and win the line of scrimmage battle,” explained Dominique. “Wauseon is a very talented team with a number of offensive playmakers so we must tackle well and limit their yards after contact. Offensively, we must put together drives against their tough defense and most importantly, finish with points on the board.”
If it weren’t for a blown lead and a blocked field goal at the end of regulation against Liberty-Benton in week 2, Archbold would also be undefeated. They opened the season with a 37-0 thrashing of Hicksville on the road, lost at home to the Eagles 34-33, before winning at Lake 29-13 last Friday.
Although the Streaks have dropped the last four to the Indians, most of them have been close. In fact, in the last two meetings with Dominique at the helm, they lost 15-7 in 2015 and just 7-0 a year ago.
The Streaks fell by just one, 14-13, in 2013. The 2014 meeting was the most lopsided, a 30-7 victory for Wauseon.
If the first three weeks have told us anything, look for this year’s game to follow the recent trend of close games between the Indians and Streaks.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010