NAPOLEON -- Three weeks ago a berth in the playoffs seemed highly unlikely for the Napoleon Wildcats.
But three consecutive wins, capped off by a 27-0 domination of Bowling Green on Friday night, appears to have the Cats headed to the Division III Region 10 postseason. The OHSAA will make it official when pairings are released this afternoon.
"I think back to the end of the Anthony Wayne game and how empty I felt, not for me but for the kids," reflected Napoleon coach Tory Strock. "The 2011 season was going to come and go and the talented seniors and the supporting cast around them weren't going to have the memories they deserve. But they decided to make their own."
Napoleon followed up victories over Perrysburg and Sylvania Northview the past two weeks with an easy win in the regular-season finale against the Bobcats to improve to 5-5 overall and 4-3 in the first year ever in the Northern Lakes League.
"It's an amazing feeling from where we were and where we're going," Strock said. "It's a great example of what perseverance and determination can do."
Napoleon scored on each of its first three possessions in the game to take control against a BG squad that ends the campaign at 2-5 in the NLL and 5-5 on the season.
Jordan Myles caught a 26-yard pass from Jacob Plassman to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead at the 7:22 mark of the first quarter and Charlie Harris added a pair of short touchdown runs in the second quarter, the first around the right end from four yards out and the second on a 2-yard run behind Tyler Carroll in the unbalanced formation. Harris, who added an interception on defense, completed the scoring with another 4-yard TD in the third quarter.
"Offensively our number one objective tonight was to pound the football and score more points then them," Strock said. "Scheme-wise we're not overly complex, but each back has a different style and they love to block for each other."
It added up to 258 yards on the ground, led by Skyler Anderson with 139 yards on 17 attempts.
"All three backs ran hard, our line opened holes up and our guards (Adante Warren and Ross Huber) did a great job with the trap," Anderson said, referring to fellow backs Bryant Schlade and Harris. "We just ran hard and played as a team."
It was no surprise to Bowling Green coach Steve Aungst.
"That's Napoleon football. They pound it, pound it, pound it and then hit the fade," the BG mentor said in reference to Napoleon's first score. "Tory's done a nice job continuing the Napoleon tradition."
That tradition includes a strong defense and Friday night it was on display with a second straight shutout.
"They're physical up front and their Mike 'backer, number 46 (Nate Walker), is good," Aungst said. "It's Napoleon football. There are no tricks up their sleeves, they just come right at you."
The Bobcats never got closer to paydirt then the Napoleon 36-yard line, finishing with just 160 yards of offense including 24 carries for 50 yards rushing.
"The front three (Zach Fielder, Schlade and Huber) got pressure on their quarterback and the 'backers filled in," explained Anderson, one of five linebackers in the 3-5 alignment. "Our secondary did a great job covering which gives us time to get to the quarterback."
The defensive performance was pleasing for Strock to witness.
"I couldn't be prouder of our defense," Strock said. "That's where it all starts.
"The bottom line is they just play hard. Our defensive staff does a great job of game planning ... and this group plays as hard as any group I've seen."
It looks to be good enough to get Napoleon to the playoffs for the sixth time in the past eight years Early speculation has Napoleon traveling to either Clyde or Columbus Eastmoor this coming Friday night.
"Everyone wants to compete for a league title but the way I've always been is there's just something special about week 11," concluded a happy Strock while searching out his 96-year-old grandmother Louisa Strock for a hug. "Not everyone gets to go, so it's a special reward for the kids. I'm proud of this group. They deserve it."
First Downs 7 19
Rushing Yards 24-50 54-258
Passing Yards 110 98
Total Yards 160 356
Passing 6-21-1 5-9-1
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-0
Penalties 6-62 1-10
Bowling Green 0 0 0 0 - 0
Napoleon 7 13 7 0 - 27
N - Myles 26-oass from Plassmann (Miller kick).
N - Harris 4-run (Miller kick).
N - Harris 2-run (kick failed).
N - Harris 4-run (Miller kick).
RUSHING: Bowling Green - Donaldson 9-27; Schroeder 10-25; Dennis 5-(-2). Napoleon - Anderson 17-139; Harris 17-76; Schlade 14-40; Plassman 6-3. PASSING: Bowling Green - Dennis 6-19-0-110; Schroeder 0-2-1-0. Napoleon - Plassman 5-9-1-98. RECEIVING: Bowling Green - Fite 2-41; Sears 1-33; Schroeder 1-14; Emans 1-12; Lucas 1-10. Napoleon - Myles 2-39; Glass 1-30; Miller 1-21; Anderson 1-8.