COLUMBUS GROVE — Momentum can be such a lethal thing.
After winning its past four games, including this past Saturday’s playoff win over Pandora-Gilboa 21-6, Columbus Grove is hoping to keep its winning ways.
Columbus Grove (7-4) got past its Route 12-rival this past Saturday in a Division VII Region 24 quarterfinal game, setting the table for a huge match-up this Saturday in a regional semifinal game against Tiffin Calvert (9-2) at Findlay’s Donnell Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m.
This marks the first time Columbus Grove has played in the postseason since 2009. It was 2006 when the Bulldogs last made it to the regional semifinals (7-5 record in 2006).
“We’ve been able to come together and play as a team,” Columbus Grove coach Andy Schafer said. “Especially on defense, you can definitely see this. We’ve started to see a lot of guys step up.
“Offensively, we’ve always relied heavily on (running back) Joey (Warnecke). Now, other guys are stepping up. Against P-G, Joey still got his 100 yards, but they kept him out of the end zone. So, we had other players step up.”
After just slipping past P-G in Week 1 (30-28) on a bad snap that resulted in a safety, the Bulldogs came out Saturday and made a statement, especially on the defensive side of the ball, holding the Rockets to 173 total yards. P-G’s featured running back Jacob Basinger was held to just 34 rushing yards. As a team, the Rockets mustered just 2 yards rushing against the Bulldogs.
Offensively, Columbus Grove was balanced, rushing for 139 yards and passing for 138.
Warnecke led the Bulldogs with 103 yards rushing on 19 carries.
Sophomore quarterback Reid Stechschulte was 8-of-12 passing with two touchdowns. Stechschulte also ran the football for 38 yards and a score for the Bulldogs.
Through the regular season, Warnecke rushed for 1,268 yards and 16 TDs. Stechschulte passed for 1,184 yards and 11 scores.
In its past four games, Columbus Grove has outscored its opponents 110-25.
“Playing P-G was tough for two reasons,” Schafer said. “No. 1, we’ve played them already. And No. 2, it’s a rivalry game. So, there were a lot of emotions flying around there on Saturday.
“Sometimes, playing such an emotional game makes it tough to play the next week. But, at this point of the season, every game is big.”
Columbus Grove’s defense will be tested when it faces Calvert. Calvert defeated Leipsic 30-14 in a regional quarterfinal this past Saturday.
On the season, Calvert is holding opponents to 19.5 points per game, while scoring 35 points per outing.
Calvert’s offense has a couple different looks as the Senecas utilize two quarterbacks.
When Tyler Long calls the signals, it’s usually a safe bet that Long will make things happen with his feet. When Drew Ritzler lines up behind center, then the secondary needs to be prepared to defend the pass.
Long led the way against Leipsic, rushing for 92 yards. Long also had a 42-yard TD reception from Ritzler. Adam Recker added 50 yards rushing on 17 carries.
Against Leipsic, Ritzler was 7-of-11 passing for 115 yards and two TDs. As a team, Calvert rolled up 262 total offensive yards.
“The first thing you hear when talking about Calvert is the Long kid,” Schafer said. “He was playing quarterback, but now they line him up at running back and do different things with him.
“They play pretty good competition. So, it will be interesting. At this point of the season, they’re all pretty good.”