LIMA — Coldwater.
The mere mention of the name when it comes to football strikes fear into opponents.
The Cavaliers have had one of most successful football programs in the state, have made an appearance in the championship game every year since 2010 and have made the playoffs 23 times, but for Lima Central Catholic they are looking at them as their next opponent despite the pedigree.
The two teams will square off at Wapakoneta’s Harmon Field at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The Thunderbirds are coming off a big win in their first postseason game after dominating Dayton Christian 45-7. In the game, LCC racked up 348 yards on the ground and 180 through the air. Freshman sensation Shaun Thomas had 85 yards on 18 carries and Logan Shultz amassed 158 yards on 15 carries and four touchdowns.
Defensively, LCC recorded six sacks and held Dayton Christian to 177 total yards.
“This was a huge confidence booster for our kids,” said LCC head coach Scott Palte said. “Any time you make week 11 and get a victory I think that is a really important win for your program and for your kids to gain confidence. I was really proud of them for the turnaround this year.”
Palte added that his players enjoyed being part of the playoff atmosphere and even though they were nervous at the onset, scoring twice on their first two possessions seemed to settle their nerves.
“I was really impressed with our intensity and our effort and our kids were really ready to go last week,” Palte said.
Beset by injuries last year, the Thunderbirds endured a 2-8 season but this year they turned things around. Not many were giving LCC a chance this year but after a win against Spencerville, a playoff team and Northwest Conference champion, individuals began to take notice. A loss to Delphos St. John’s, another playoff qualifier, followed and many thought the first game was a fluke.
However, Palte said the loss to the Blue Jays was a wake-up call and since falling to Delphos, LCC has won nine straight. Palte said he the team began to hit its stride in week 3 when they jumped on Ada, another playoff team, early and cruised to the 35-21 win.
“The process and growth of our team has been tremendous,” said Palte who said that third game was the springboard to success. “We are playing our best football right now and that is what you strive to do as a football team.”
Confidence is one thing, beating Coldwater is another.
The Cavaliers, who lost their season finale to Delphos St. John’s 12-7, bounced back in their playoff opener with a convincing 42-7 win over Tipp City Bethel. In the game, quarterback Sam Broering was 11 of 16 for 169 yards and two touchdowns. Jacob Wenning caught 4 passes for 49 yards and one touchdown.
For the game, Coldwater collected 247 rushing yards. Brad Gierre ran for 93 yards and one touchdown and Ben Wenning rushed for 57 yards and two touchdowns.
“We have tremendous respect for their program,” Palte said. “They have done so many good things. They are so well-coached and all their players buy in and they might have the best football program in the state in the last several years. I am in awe of what they have accomplished.
Palte added that his team is excited about the challenge of playing Coldwater.
“We are playing the 2017 Coldwater Cavaliers,” Palte said. We are not playing the 2015 or 2014 team. We are playing this year’s team and that is what we can focus on and not what they have done in the past.”