The Wauseon football team will be looking for an upset when they travel to Shelby this Friday for a match-up with the higher-seeded Whippets in the opening round of the playoffs in Division IV, Region 14.
It will be the fourth time in five seasons that the Indians will represent the Northwest Ohio Athletic League in the playoffs. Head coach Travis Cooper, who has led the program for each of their recent appearances, could not be more thrilled.
“It was a goal our team set on day 1 of off-season lifting to get back to the postseason,” said the coach. “Our guys had started to think that it was a given every year, and they realized that wasn’t the case (last season). They were driven and focused to get back. The great programs get to the postseason year in and year out. We want Wauseon Football to be one of those programs.”
However, the Indians will have their hands full with their first-round opponent.
Shelby (10-0) is the champion of the Sandusky Bay Conference’s Bay Division and is the fifth ranked team in the state for Division IV. The Whippets are the second seed in Region 14, while the Indians are seeded seventh.
“They are a veteran, senior-laden group who had great experience last year making it to the regional finals before falling to Steubenville,” said Cooper of Shelby. “They have yet to be challenged this year. They score a ton and shut down team’s offenses. They are playing with extreme confidence and get the luxury of playing on their home field.”
Shelby is averaging over 50 points per game while allowing an average of just over 5 points per game. No team has scored more than 14 points on the Whippets.
Their wins include a 43-0 victory over Milan Edison, a playoff team in Division V, and a 46-0 win over Bellevue, who is in the field in Region 14.
Leading the Whippets is quarterback Brennan Armstrong. He finished third in the Bay Division in passing, completing 66 percent of his passes for 1,299 yards, 21 touchdowns and only two interceptions. Armstrong also rushed for 656 yards and 14 TDs.
However, leading the Whippets in rushing is Devon Brooks with 726 yards and 9 scores. Catching a majority of Armstrong’s passes is tight end Carter Brooks who finished the regular season with 795 receiving yards and 15 TDs.
To pull the upset, the Indians must block out the outside noise and focus on the task at hand. Coach Cooper is confident his team will be ready.
“Our guys have to avoid letting the hype Shelby has gotten distract them from the fact that we belong in this position,” he said. “Our guys have battled adversity and are battle-tested. The pressure is all on them. Not many people will give us a chance in this match-up and that is just fine with us. We thrive when people underestimate us. We will definitely need to play our best game to date, but when we put a full four quarters together we can play with anyone.
“Having a good start is essential. Defensively, we need to limit their big plays and get a few turnovers. Offensively, we need to make them defend the entire field and stay on schedule so we can keep the entire playbook open on second and third down.”
Kick-off on Friday at Shelby is 7:30 p.m.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010