Following a disappointing 13-6 loss to a Lima Bath squad entering the game with one win, Defiance will have a tough road ahead to earn their second triumph of the season, beginning with a trip to Celina on Friday.
The stretch marks a four-game gauntlet against teams with a 17-7 combined record, including back-to-back games against 5-1 opponents in Wapakoneta and Ottawa-Glandorf.
Before that slate of contests, Defiance (1-5, 1-4 WBL) must make the trip south to Celina for a matchup against a Green and White Bulldog squad that has had anything but a boring 2019 season.
Celina (3-3, 2-3 WBL) has seen close games in all but one contest this season, dropping a one-point heartbreaker last week to Ottawa-Glandorf when the Bulldogs went for two following a touchdown with 27 seconds left in an upset bid against the league unbeaten Titans.
Celina also owns a four-point win over Elida and a five-point triumph at Elida, in addition to a one-point win over rival Versailles in the season’s first week.
Despite the loss of four-year starter Brett Schwieterman at quarterback, Celina has still found plenty of offense with 6-3, 197-pound junior QB Cooper Jones under center.
Between Jones and 6-0, 180-pound junior Jaxson Silliman, the backfield in Celina has proven to be a tough task for opponents to stop. Jones is the Western Buckeye League’s leading rusher with 649 yards and eight touchdowns along with 610 passing yards (73-of-127) and six TDs. Silliman is not far behind with 619 yards and seven TDs, including a pair of scoring runs in the loss to O-G.
“They’re well-coached in their system and what they do,” explained DHS skipper Kevin Kline. “They do a really good job in their inside run game, Silliman is one of the best backs in the WBL. Jones does a great job in their option and reading the defense and knowing when to tuck it.
“We’re going to find out how well we can defend.”
6-3 senior wideout Max Thobe led Celina against O-G with eight catches for 70 yards while Quinn Andrew (5-9, So.) caught a touchdown pass.
For Defiance, inconsistency marked the day against Lima Bath in a frustrating 13-6 effort that saw the Bulldogs get held out of the endzone entirely. The second-least penalized team entering the game (26 penalties, 200 yards), Defiance racked up six flags for 65 yards in the loss to Bath, including penalties that wiped out a run to the Bath 25 in the second quarter, to the Bath 30 in the third quarter and to the 25 in the fourth quarter.
A pair of big plays set the table for both Bath touchdowns, as a stumble by a defensive back allowed a wide-open 62-yard passing TD and a 55-yard screen pass set up the other score, spoiling an otherwise solid defensive performance.
“Defensively, I thought we did a good job outside of a couple big plays,” noted Kline. “It’s not an effort issue but it’s an execution issue. It was disappointing because it felt like any time we were getting things going, we’d get hit by a penalty. We’re not very good when we’re in those second and 16, third and 17 kind of situations.”
Offense did not come easily against Bath for the Bulldogs, managing just 178 yards of offense despite not turning the ball over.
“They’ve struggled in a couple games where they’ve given up points but they’ve got a lot of athletes on that side of the ball,” said Kline of Celina, which gave up 38 in a win over Elida and 42 in a four-TD loss to Kenton. “They’re big up front and not easy to move. Offensively, the way we’re playing, I’m more worried about us scoring points than the defenses we’re facing.
“We need to be able to get those smaller plays. We’re going to have to clean up some things and avoid some of the mistakes.”