Two teams with coaches who know quite a bit about each other will have plenty for play for on Friday night as Wauseon heads to Pifer Field to take on the Evergreen Vikings.
The Indians, 5-1 on the season and 2-1 in the Northwest Ohio Athletic League, sit second in the Division IV, Region 14 computer rankings after a 41-14 win on homecoming against Swanton.
“I thought we came out and moved the ball effectively,” said Wauseon coach Shawn Moore. “We wanted to be able to run the ball and we had about 390 yards rushing in the game. We spread it out with a bunch of different guys and I was pleased.
“We were able to take a couple shots (downfield) in the passing game,” added the first-year coach. “We connected on a couple of big plays.”
Evergreen comes in 4-2 and also 2-1 in the NWOAL. The Vikings had a four-game win streak snapped with a 27-14 loss to Patrick Henry.
“I was really pleased with the way we performed Friday night against Patrick Henry,” admitted Evergreen coach Aaron Schmidt. “I felt like we competed. Pound for pound, our offensive line and defensive line played great. I thought we won a lot of battles up front.”
“There was about five plays in the game and they made all of the plays,” added Schmidt. “We had opportunities, and if we made two or three of them, its a completely different ballgame. On the first play of the game, we missed three tackles on a long touchdown. We missed a tackle on a screen pass that ends up going for a touchdown. They fumbled the ball twice and land on both of them. There were a lot of situations where if we would have made a play, we could have changed the whole perspective.”
The two teams will play for the TJ Rupp trophy. Rupp, a 2005 graduate, served as the athletic director at Evergreen from 2012-17 before his life was cut short in an auto accident.
“TJ was a very close personal friend and he was one of my brothers good friends growing up,” said Schmidt, himself a Wauseon graduate. “It means a lot (to me) to be a part of this. Anybody who knew him would know how much of a selfless and caring guy he was. He was willing to anything for anybody. To be able to be a part of that, and the trophy, that means a lot to play it for him.
“Being a Wauseon grad, there is a little extra,” added Schmidt. “I played with the head coach and defensive coordinator. There is a lot of familiarity. There is a little heightened intensity.”
Moore also knows the connections between the two teams.
“TJ was a great guy and I remember talking to him when he was at Wauseon,” mentioned Moore. “Aaron (Schmidt), being a Wauseon guy, they’re going to be ready to go. We have to be prepared.”
On the field, the two teams have different plans on offense. Evergreen plays to run the football, like they have most of the year.
“We want to be downhill and have multiple guys who can carry the ball out of the backfield,” said Schmidt. “We got Trent Coopshaw back and he ran the ball hard, but there still are some things he needs to iron out. We’ll work on those this week.”
Wauseon is concerned about the play of Evergreen quarterback Jack Etue, who has racked up 943 yards rushing and 10 TDs while passing for 492 yards and six scores.
“Etue can move around and run,” admitted Moore. “We have to be able to keep our eye on him and contain him. They have a couple big, physical running backs as well. Their line is big and physical. We have to make sure we don’t give up the big play and make them work for it down the field.”
Evergreen is worried about the spread attack of the Indians, highlighted by running back Jack Krispin’s 606 rushing yards and five scores while Jacob Riggs has 11 catches for 216 yards and four TDs and Krispin a team-best 14 receptions for 152 yards and a score.
“They have athletes all over the place,” Schmidt said of Wauseon. “They have a really good quarterback. He’s very accurate and athletic as well. They have guys they can throw the ball to on the outside that are dangerous and could give us problems.”
The Viking defense will be keyed in on the connection between QB Cody Figy (96-of-160, 1,356 yards, 10 TDs) and standout receiver Connar Penrod (33 catches, 498 yards, 6 TDs), along with wideout Noah Tester (30 catches, 381 yards, 3 TDs) and running backs Tyson Britsch (233 yards, 2 TDs) and Thomas Leahy (189 yards, 3 TDs).