The rest of the Fulton County football teams will begin their playoff run Saturday night. Archbold and Wauseon, coming off first round byes, will both welcome opponents.
The Indians are hosting Clyde (4-3) in Division IV, Region 14.
The Blue Streaks, who garnered the top seed in Division VI, Region 22, will take on No. 16 seed Gibsonburg (4-3). The Golden Bears defeated Wayne Trace 38-30 to open the playoffs last Saturday.
“They are a fundamentally sound team that plays a very physical style of football. They have some nice size and their skilled guys on the edge have shown the ability to break away at any time,” said Archbold head coach David Dominique on the Golden Bears.
Gibsonburg is a team with much recent playoff experience, having qualified in four of the last five seasons. The one season in which they did not, 2019, the Bears were 10-0 in the regular season but did not collect enough quality wins to jump Fairview for the eighth seed in their region.
Archbold, on the other hand, is looking to continue its playoff success of a season ago. They reached the regional final where they fell to eventual D-VI state champion Anna, 42-7.
With many players returning from that team, the Streaks have big aspirations for the 2020 postseason.
“The biggest thing we are telling them is to not be complacent with what we have been able to accomplish so far this year,” said Dominique. “The team that makes it out of Region 22 is the one who continues to show improvement over the course of the next couple of weeks. Our goal is to improve each practice in order to advance to the next round of the playoffs.”
Archbold comes into the contest at 6-0 with the Northwest Ohio Athletic League title already clinched. Three of their wins — Bryan, Liberty Center and Wauseon — are against teams with at least five wins.
The Streaks are averaging nearly 40 (39.8) points per game while allowing a little over 14 (14.2).
Offensively, they are led by the rushing attack of quarterback DJ Newman, plus tailbacks Noah Gomez and Caleb Hogrefe who have combined for 21 rushing touchdowns.
Newman has rushed for 431 yards over the six games and eight TDs; Gomez 427 yards and seven TDs; and Hogrefe 188 yards and six TDs.
In the passing game Newman has completed 65-94, good for a 69 percent completion rate, 1,058 yards and eight TDs to just three interceptions.
The Streaks also have a pair of receivers with at least 350 yards receiving on the shortened season.
Brandon Taylor has caught 18 passes for 364 yards and four scores. Antonio Cruz caught 25 for 357 yards and three scores.
Archbold aims to stretch the field in the passing game versus Gibsonburg. “Offensively we must win our 1-on-1 matchups on the edge,” explained Dominique. “They like to play man coverage so we need to take advantage of this. Along with this, we must control their size up front on the line of scrimmage in order to find success.”
The Streaks will also look to win the line of scrimmage from a defensive standpoint.
“Defensively, we need to force them into third and long situations,” Dominique said. “Since they are such a run-heavy team we need to get them out of their comfort zone and make them throw the ball; and most importantly, make plays in these situations.”
Indians hosting defending state champs
Wauseon is coming off a playoff run in 2019. The Indians won a first-round matchup 41-18 over Bellevue, then fell in the Region 14 semifinal to Ottawa-Glandorf, 21-14.
This year they open with the defending D-IV state champion Fliers, no easy task for the sixth seed Indians. Wauseon, however, will not shy away from the challenge.
“It’s the playoffs, so we were ready to play anyone,” stated Wauseon second-year head coach Shawn Moore. “There are some good teams in our region including Clyde, and if you want to be successful you are going to have to play them sometime.”
Clyde, seeded 11th, took down No. 22 seed Brookside 42-7 in the first round.
The Fliers played a tough schedule in the regular season, with two of their three losses being a 19-16 defeat at the hands of 5-1 Tiffin Columbian, and 16-7 to 6-0 Bellevue.
They have a potent ground game led by junior Michael Daniels who has accumulated 755 yards rushing and 11 TDs.
Junior quarterback Jaden Cook has completed 64 percent of his passes for 1,107 yards, nine TDs to four interceptions.
Cook’s favorite receiver is Griffin Noftz. The junior has hauled in 21 catches on the season, good for 417 yards and four scores.
“Clyde is a well-coached team that plays physical football from the beginning to the end of the game,” said Moore of the Fliers.
For Wauseon to be successful they intend to do what they have done all season, put up points in bunches on offense while holding the opposition in check.
The Indians’ offense this season is averaging 40 points per game through the six regular season contests.
With Connar Penrod, a 1,000 yard receiver in 2019, now at quarterback, they have been able to utilize more of their playmakers.
Penrod’s preferred targets are sophomore wide receivers Sam Smith and Jude Armstrong, along with junior Jonas Tester. And with Tyson Britsch flashing some athleticism in the backfield, plus Penrod being used as a runner as well, they are no doubt a force to be reckoned with.
Defensively, the Indians hadn’t allowed more than 20 points until their week 6 loss to Archbold, a narrow 36-35 loss to the Blue Streaks.
“Offensively, we need to be continue to take what the defense gives us, and give Connar time to find the open receiver. Defensively we need to improve our tackling and keep them in front of us, not giving up the big play,” said Moore on keys to the game for his squad.
Both Archbold’s matchup with Gibsonburg and Wauseon’s duel with Clyde will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday night.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010