WAYNESFIELD — You can’t blame Waynesfield-Goshen fans for being excited.
The Tigers have jumped out to a 6-0 overall record and sport a 3-0 mark in the Northwest Central Conference.
It’s not just that the W-G is unbeaten but it’s how the Tigers have won — and that is in dominating fashion. They have outscored their opponents 226-33. The Tigers have only gone unbeaten in one other season in their 76 years of existence and that came in 1989 under the guidance of Jerry Cooper.
Heck, even Tiger head coach Shane Wireman admits he is excited about what this team has accomplished so far but at the same time he acknowledges there are still four games left in the season. With almost assuredly a trip to the postseason, his team must remain focused on what the team has done to get to this point.
“I kind of think we are on track for the vision we had,” Wireman said. “I think we maybe jumped on a couple of teams this year. That Upper Scioto Valley game was a big win for us. We anticipated that to be a little tighter game and we were fortunate enough to hit some big plays.
“But really I am not going to sit here and say we are shocked or surprised by where we are. We have a good group of seniors and we feel we are right where we thought we would be at this point in the season and hopefully, things can keep rolling in a good direction.”
Coming into this season, one of the main questions was at the quarterback spot and if Drew Breitigam could fill the shoes left by Cooper Roberts and in the early going, the junior signal-caller has shown he is more than capable of handling the duties with his own rebel style mixed in.
“I think he has some good playmaking abilities,” Wireman said. “In all honesty he is not always looking to hit the easy money we tell him to, and he is looking to hit the big plays. It is kind of hard on the sidelines when he makes a big play to correct him because you just scored six points. We don’t want to coach that out of him. But we want him to be smart and protect himself.”
Through the air, Breitigam is 38 for 63 for 796 with 14 touchdowns and two interceptions and on the ground he has 299 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries. Dalton Jordan is the team’s top receiver with 22 catches for 495 yards and nine touchdowns.
Wireman added that he continues to mature and learn as he racks up starts and has the ability to keep his eyes “up the field” to make big plays when he has to roll out or is pressured out of the pocket, and points out that this is one of the differences between him and his predecessor.
Teams have been adjusting to the Tigers and Breitigam’s style of play as evidenced by Ridgemont last week playing two safeties back to avoid the big play, and as Wireman puts it, invites the team to run the ball more.
The emergence of Breitigam has allowed a more balanced attack as the Tigers like to establish the run behind its experienced offensive line. Leading the Tigers’ ground game is senior Aiden Biderman who has 750 yards and 11 touchdowns on 72 carries.
“We have three seniors on the offensive line, both our tackles and center being seniors and our two guards are juniors,” Wireman said. “We are pretty experienced up front and the guys in the backfield. Earlier in the year we missed some cuts or missed the whole but lately we have shored it up a little bit.”
With room for improvement and knowing teams are going to study them extensively, Wireman said the main emphasis is drilling the fundamentals because he understands that big plays help but sustained drives and controlling the ball win games.
Defensively, the Tigers have been shutting teams down and Wireman points to his senior mainstays on the line. The Tigers have allowed an average of 5.5 points this year and that includes three shutouts this season, which is near the school record of holding the opposition to 5.2 points a game. The school record for shutouts in a season is six.
Wireman points to his two seniors on the defensive line, Hayden Fox (6-7, 350 lbs.) and Logan Webb (6-3, 320 lbs.).
“Both of those guys are big up the middle and teams have had a tough time running the ball,” Wireman said. “I don’t want to say it makes teams one-dimensional but it becomes that they lose their patience when they don’t have success running the ball and then we are able to put more coverage behind it and that has been a real nice one-two punch.
Wireman adds that the team has also been getting some excellent linebacker play from Hunter Craig, who was a first team all-NWCC selection last year, along with sophomore Grant Breitigam who the Tigers head coach said is at the top of the tackle chart.
“Defensively we are excited and we want to hang our hat on that,” Wireman said. “We preach about it a lot. Get our three and out and got good field position for the offense and give us as many possessions as we can, regardless of what type of offense we are facing and they guys are doing a good job of that.”
With the team’s success, the noise and possible distractions are cropping up. In the lastest Ohio High School Associated Press football poll, Waynesfield-Goshen was seventh and so the task for Wireman is to keep his team grounded and even tempered as they enter the final four games of the regular season.
In the final four games of the year, the Tigers face opponents with a combined overall record of 6-18. The Tigers face a winless Crestline team, followed by a game against Perry (0-6) and finish with Ridgedale (2-4) and Hardin Northern (4-2).
“What we try to do to keep the players locked in is that we are not playing to win that game on Friday,” Wireman said. “Yes, that is our first goal but ultimately we are going to have some good competition coming down the road here in week 11 and 12.”
The region W-G is in is loaded with a lot of talented teams including Pandora-Gilboa, Lima Central Catholic, Antwerp, McComb and Arlington.
Wireman in no way is discounting the games still on the schedule and points out that since he has been at Perry he has never beaten the Commodores and then the season closer against a solid Hardin Northern team who will be looking to try and share the NWCC crown if they are in that position by the end of the season.
“It is not going to be an easy stretch and there is a lot of outside noise with community excitement; good noise, but it is easy for kids to get distracted, so it is our jobs as coaches to keep them focused and do the fundamentals and make sure we keep preparing for who is on the schedule.”