Archbold football will look to keep it rolling in its Division VI, Region 22 quarterfinal at home against Collins Western Reserve (7-3) Saturday night.
The Blue Streaks improved to 11-0 on the season after dispatching Delta 44-7 last week. Western Reserve is coming off a 15-14 nail-biting win over Gibsonburg.
The Roughriders are a team that favors the ground game offensively, led by senior dual threat quarterback Jude Muenz.
Through 10 games this season, Muenz has passed for 560 yards, eight touchdowns to one interception, while also accumulating 513 yards rushing and five scores. However, he only played in five of those after suffering an injury in week four.
Pacing the Roughrider ground attack is Muck Grandy with 611 yards and six TDs. Logan Wiegel added 364 yards and four TDs. Rhett Grose (258 yards) had two more scores as the Roughriders have a total of 17 on the ground so far this season.
The passing game is basically a one-man show as Jake Jarrett has caught 51 passes on the year for 784 yards and 10 TDs. Their next best is Carson Roe with 23 catches for 252 yards and a score.
“Western Reserve has a balanced attack on the offensive side of the ball and they do a good job of being physical,” said Archbold Head Coach David Dominique. “It is definitely obvious that they want to establish the run game and they use their quarterback and running back well in doing so. Their front line has some good size and they move fairly well so this is a big reason for their success.”
The Western Reserve defense will have its hands full on Saturday night.
They will be tasked with stopping the Blue Streaks’ very dynamic offense — and it starts with senior quarterback DJ Newman.
He has passed for 1,689 yards, 21 TDs and only five interceptions, but also has 1,157 yards rushing to go along with 19 scores. The Blue Streak rushing attack is a two-headed monster, with junior running back Carson Dominique racking up 1,097 yards and 15 TDs for the Northwest Ohio Athletic League champions.
When he turns to the air, Newman has a pair of productive options.
Gavin Bailey leads them with 40 receptions for 686 yards and 10 TDs. Karter Behnfeldt has 31 catches for 444 yards and four TDs.
Also with four scores is tight end Charlie Krieger, who has caught nine passes on the season for a total of 146 yards.
“For us offensively, we are going to have to continue to take what the defense gives us,” said Coach Dominique on keys for his team’s offense Saturday. “We too try to stay as balanced as possible but we need to not force things and continue to play disciplined in order to find success. A big key for us will be controlling the line of scrimmage and allowing our offense to mix it up.”
Archbold was able to get by Delta last Saturday without much trouble. But, no game is ever perfect, and Dominique will look for his team to be even better this week.
“As a whole, I was proud of the way our guys played on Saturday against Delta,” said the Blue Streak mentor. “The defense did a good job of forcing some turnovers which enabled our offense to have short field position. We did have some mental mistakes throughout the game in terms of penalties that need to get corrected moving into this week in order to find success against Western Reserve.”
Indians taking on defending champs
Wauseon is on the opposite end of the spectrum to that of Archbold. The Indians, the 11th seed in Division IV, Region 14, have a meeting on the road against Van Wert Friday.
The third-seeded Cougars are Western Buckeye League champions and back in the playoffs after a 2020 season that saw them win the Division IV state championship.
However, Wauseon Coach Shawn Moore says his team is motivated for the challenge.
“I think being an underdog allows the team to play loose,” he explained. “We know that to be a champion at some point you have to beat the champion. This week we have the challenge of going out and beating a champion, and (this) is the motivation that is driving us this week.”
Van Wert is an offensive juggernaut, leading the WBL convincingly in both scoring offense and total offense.
The Cougars averaged 45.2 points per game in the regular season. They also averaged 473.4 yards per game against league opponents, 149 better than the next closest, Ottawa-Glandorf with 324.4 ypg.
“We will need to continue to swarm to the football, be good tacklers, and try to give them different looks to create some confusion,” Moore said of his defense’s goal versus the Cougars.
Van Wert got to the regional quarterfinal after a 46-0 shutout win over Rossford. Wauseon won at Wooster Triway 41-7.
For the Indians, they are looking to build off the momentum of last week. “Anytime you win in the playoffs it gives your team confidence. It shows us that when we play well we can compete with anyone,” said Moore.
Cougar quarterback Aidan Pratt is a dual threat option that will be a tough task for the Indians’ defense. Pratt completed over 75 percent (209-278) of his passes for 2,765 yards and 29 TDs to just three interceptions through 11 games. He also rushed for 1,013 yards and 16 TDs.
The Indians will need to find a way to get pressure on Aidan Pratt and limit the big plays by his receivers. Van Wert led the WBL in passing in 2021.
Connor Pratt, the WBL’s leading receiver, paces the Cougars with 882 yards receiving and seven TDs. Maddix Crutchfield has 681 yards and five scores so far this season. They also have Garret Gunter who has accumulated 625 yards and seven TDs.
After Aidan Pratt, Van Wert is led on the ground by Nate Jackson with 658 yards and 13 TDs.
“They have a lot of nice players. The Pratt brothers, Aidan and Connor at quarterback and wide receiver, are two of the best,” explained Moore.
Wauseon will likely look to attack the Cougar defense with their potent passing offense. The Indians passed for 351 yards and six TDs in the rout of Triway last week.
Sam Smith led that effort with 220 yards and three scores.
For the season, including week 11, quarterback Elijah McLeod completed 66 percent (191-287) of his passes for 27 TDs to 11 interceptions.
McLeod’s top target is senior Jonas Tester who has 893 yards receiving and eight TDs on the season. The Indians also have Jude Armstrong, who has amassed 753 yards and six scores.
But it will likely not be easy to move the ball against Van Wert, as the Cougars have seen many skilled offenses this year playing in the WBL. And, though ranking near the middle of the league in both team and scoring defense, they were near the top versus the pass — Wauseon’s strength on offense.
The Cougars finished third in the WBL against the pass, surrendering only 115.3 ypg.
They were sixth against the run, giving up 142.9 ypg in the regular season and 17 TDs.
So perhaps the Indians can turn to the ground game for success. However, which ever route they choose, it is evident they will need to have their best game to get the victory.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.