In sports when a team suffers a rough loss, the best thing to do is turn the page quickly. After falling 38-0 to rival Archbold last Friday in a game where a piece of the Northwest Ohio Athletic League football title was decided, Wauseon can now look forward to its Division IV playoff matchup with Bellevue Saturday night at Harmon Field.
“We have to let it go and learn from it,” said Wauseon coach Shawn Moore on the loss to the Blue Streaks. “We have to move forward and work to get better. It is now a one game season each and every week.”
The second-seed Indians (8-2) are hosting the seventh-seed Redmen (6-4). It is the third time the schools will be meeting in the playoffs since 2014.
Wauseon won 34-12 at a neutral site in 2014, but Bellevue returned the favor the following season with an 18-0 victory in the opening round at Harmon Field.
“We can definitely remember some things about their style of play, but it is a different team with different players,” said Moore on the two prior meetings with Bellevue, when he was an assistant on Travis Cooper’s staff. “They are a well-coached team that will be ready to play.”
The Redmen have a dual-threat quarterback who is the backbone of their offense. Keegan Ray has passed for 1,448 yards and 14 touchdowns, however, he has tossed it to the other team 11 times. On the ground, Ray has accumulated 882 yards and 11 TDs.
Jack Howey is the team’s second leading rusher, running for 507 yards and nine TDs.
Leading the receivers is Caleb Marshall with 35 grabs for 754 yards and 13 scores. Jack Fitzgerald is next at 28 receptions for 434 yards and two scores.
“This team has a lot of weapons,” said Moore. “The quarterback throws a nice ball and is a good runner. They have a big tall receiver (Marshall) that has also made a lot of plays for them, and like usual they have some really big kids on the line that play physically. They also do not have a lot of players that go both ways. Defensively they fly around and are good tacklers.”
The Wauseon offense will look to bounce back after being stymied by Archbold last week. Prior to the regular season finale, the Indians had been averaging just over 29 points per game.
They have a do-it-all quarterback of their own in Cody Figy. He has passed for 2,246 yards and 18 TDs to 10 interceptions. Figy also leads the team with six scores on the ground.
If they are to be successful versus the Redmen, the Indians will need to get their passing game going.
Leading the aerial attack is Connar Penrod, who has reeled in 57 catches on the season for a total of 843 yards and 10 TDs. Noah Tester – who left the Archbold game with a hip injury – comes in with 45 catches for 589 yards and four TDs.
Tester’s status for Saturday is dependent on how he is feeling that day, according to coach Moore.
Wauseon will look to put last week’s performance in the past, where its defense surrendered 38 points. In their two losses this season, the Indians gave up an average of 36.5 points.
Bellevue averages nearly 31 (30.6) points per game while their defense allows 17.7 per contest.
The Wauseon defense will try to stymie the Redmen offense behind four tacklers – mostly in the back-end – with at least 50 tackles on the season.
Defensive backs Jonas Tester and Isaac Wilson lead the defense in tackles with 66.5 and 60.5 respectively. Noah Tester, also a defensive back, comes in with 55.5 tackles. Linebacker Sean Brock has recorded 50.5 tackles, a number that includes 6.5 sacks.
Also helping pressure the opposing team’s quarterback are Matt Shaw with six sacks, Tyson Britsch and Gavyn Dunn each with four, and Alex Moore with three.
In order to have success Saturday, Coach Moore will push his team to focus more on themselves this week in practice.
“We need to play with confidence and get back to playing our style of football,” said the Wauseon coach.
Wauseon and Bellevue will kick off Saturday at 7 p.m. in Wauseon.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010