VAN WERT - Offense normally takes center stage at the annual Van Wert County Hospital all star football game.
However, at Friday’s 15th annual Van Wert County Hospital Western Buckeye League versus Lima Area/Northwest Conference All Star Game at Van Wert’s Eggerss Stadium, the defensive units took over.
After the Lima Area/NWC All Stars went into the halftime break with a 16-7 lead over the WBL All Stars, the defense took over for the Lima Area/NWC squad as they pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 30-7 victory over the WBL.
For the game, the WBL squad was held to 278 offensive yards, with just 71 yards in the second half.
Offensively, the Lima Area/NWC All Stars managed only 244 total yards. However, quarterback Colby Speice (Wayne Trace) did enough damage in the air, completing 12 of 23 passes for 212 yards and two TDs.
Coming into Friday’s game, the WBL had won five of the past seven matchups, including the past two games.
Crestview head coach Jared Owens coached the Lima Area/NWC All Stars. Elida’s Jason Carpenter coached the WBL squad.
“As we were selecting kids, we felt like we wanted to put together the strongest defense that we could,” Owens said. “We put some of the better athletes that we had on defense. …It’s not to say that we didn’t have athletes on offense, because we did. But kids like Lee Stewart (Lima Central Catholic), Matt Wilcox (Ada), Noah Stratton (Bluffton) and Tyler Mox (Delphos Jefferson) are special athletes who can run and move. We had a really good performance from our defense.”
The Lima Area/NWC team didn’t take long to score.
The Lima Area/NWC got on the scoreboard on its first possession of the game. At the 8:05 mark of the first quarter, Bluffton’s Noah Stratton capped off a 9-play, 55-yard scoring drive with a 12-yard scamper to the end zone. Ada’s Matt Wilcox ran the ball in on the two-point conversion, giving his team the early 8-0 lead.
The WBL All Stars scored its first TD with 16 seconds left in the first quarter. Celina’s Loudon Limon ran it in from 4 yards out. With the point-after by Wapakoneta’s Bailey Hinegardner, the Lima Area/NWC lead was cut to 8-7.
At the 8:48 mark of the second quarter, Lima Area/NWC quarterback Colby Speice (Wayne Trace) found teammate Korbin Showalter for a 52-yard TD pass. With the two-point conversion, the Lima Area/NWC led 16-7.
In the first half, the WBL reeled off 120 rushing yards and 85 more in the air. The Lima Area/NWC squad mustered just 23 yards on the ground and 118 passing yards. The WBL recorded seven first downs in the first half, while the Lima Area/NWC squad moved the chains three times.
The defensive units took over in the second half. Neither team scored in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Lima Area/NWC squad added two more scores to put the game out of reach. At the 6:56 mark, Zavier Buzard (Delphos Jefferson) ran it in from 4 yards out. With the point-after by Columbus Grove’s Mason Smith, the lead was now 23-7.
Then with less than three minutes left to play in the game, Speice found Jared Sherry (Wayne Trace) open for a 14-yard scoring strike.
“Honestly, it’s a little scary with three days of practice,” Owens said. “But we had some good leadership there and Colby (Speice) grasped things pretty fast at the quarterback position.”