OTTAWA — As Ottawa-Glandorf head coach Ken Schriner assesses his team at the midway point of the season he has seen a lot of positives but he also sees room for improvement as the Titans prepare for the second half of the season that will determine the Western Buckeye League title.
Ottawa-Glandorf (5-0, 3-0), Wapakoneta (5-0, 3-0) and St. Marys (5-0, 3-0) have pretty much made the Western Buckeye League a three-horse race with all three playing each other in the final three weeks of the season.
“I think we are right on track,” said Schriner, who’s team is ranked No. 9 in the latest Division IV poll. “We are doing good things but we still need to improve especially with the toughest part of the season still to come.”
Schriner said that in addition to some breaks going the Titans way, he said one of the main reasons his team is undefeated this year is the way the defense has developed.
Defensively we’ve played well,” Schriner said. “We have a lot of young guys going and they are doing what they are supposed to do and preparing every week and they keep getting better.”
The Titan defense is ranked first in the WBL in total team defense, allowing just 200.4 yards per game. Ottawa-Glandorf ranks first in scoring defense, allowing 40 points this season (8.0 points per game) and third overall in passing defense (123.4 yards per game). Against the run, the Titans rank first, allowing just 77 yards per game and three touchdowns for the season.
“Our defense is opportunistic and up until the last couple of weeks we have been taking care of the ball,” Schriner said. “We need to work on our run game and our pass protection. And obviously the turnover margin could get better. We really have been giving up the ball too much lately.
Ottawa-Glandorf’s Trent Basinger is tops in the league in interceptions with three, including one for a touchdown.
For the year, the Titans rank third in the league with a turnover ratio of plus 6.
Offensively, Ottawa-Glandorf has been led by first-year signal caller Jay Kaufman. For the year, the junior quarterback is 43 of 69 for 1,010 yards with 12 touchdowns and two interceptions. He is ranked second in the league in pass efficiency rating (62.3 percent) and second in yards and touchdown passes.
Allowing Kaufman to excel is a solid offensive line along with the talents of running back Connor Niese and receiver Ritchie Knowlton. The senior tailback has rushed for 298 yards on 54 carries with three touchdowns and has caught 11 passes for 168 yards and three touchdowns. Niese ranks fifth in the league in all-purpose yards and Knowlton is ninth in the same category. Knowlton has hauled in 16 catches for 444 yards and four touchdowns.
As a team, Ottawa-Glandorf is third overall in team total offense, averaging 348.8 yards a game. The Titans are second in team passing offense, averaging 204.6 yards a game and second in scoring offense, averaging 33.4 points a game.
Even though the Titans have been one of the most productive offenses in the league, Schriner said there is room for improvement.
We need to work on our run game and our pass protection,” Schriner said.
The Titans will have a couple of games to prepare for their big showdowns in the final three weeks of the season with a game against Defiance (1-4, 1-3) this week followed by a game against the always dangerous Kenton Wildcats. The final three games on the schedule are Wapakoneta, Elida and St. Marys.
Schriner said the Titans are not looking past these two WBL foes because he said his players have the right temperament to deal with with the rigors of the league schedule.
“This is a group of guys who are level headed and don’t get too high and don’t get too low. We preach to them everyday that you have to bring your lunch pail to every game because on any given Friday you can get beat.”
Schriner also adds that his team is excited about playing these final weeks and not shying away from the big showdowns. “It is exciting and they are enthusiastic about playing in these games coming up. We realize there is a lot at stake.”
In other WBL action, Wapakoneta (5-0, 4-0) tackles Celina (3-2, 3-1), St. Marys (5-0, 4-0) battles Bath (1-5, 1-4), Kenton (2-3, 2-2) travels to Shawnee and Elida (2-3, 1-3) goes on the road to Van Wert (0-5, 0-4).
Five weeks into the season and Lima Senior head coach Andre Griffin said his goal has stayed the same from the beginning; to be 1-0 at the end of the week. The Spartans have achieved that goal three times, going 3-2 for the year, and reached that goal last week, a 33-14 victory over Fremont Ross in a Three Rivers Athletic Conference clash.
The Spartans hit the road for the third straight week this Friday when they travel to face off against winless St. Francis De Sales (0-5, 0-2).
“We are improving,” Griffin said. “We had a mid-season evaluation with the coaches and we are definitely coming along offensively. Our passing game has developed. We had 44 plays but we had 33 points so we scored on the opportunities that we had. We just have to cut down on missed opportunities as far as turnovers.”
Defensively, Griffin would like to see the team get better at stopping the run. He is pleased with how the young defensive backs have improved the most and hopes to see them continue to grow.
“Our effort is there and we have done well finishing games and we have to continue doing that,” Griffin said. “This is not going to happen this year but we have to get stronger as far as the d-line. We have to get penetration and hold the line better.”
Spartan Jaden Walker continues to be a standout for the offense. The talented tailback has rushed for more than 680 yards and Griffin said he is becoming a better receiver out of the backfield.
“He is catching the ball a lot better than in the past and that is helping our team out,” the Spartan coach added.
Spartan quarterback Adrine Mitchell continues to develop. Griffin said he is still young in a lot of ways but has shown some solid progress. Against Fremont Ross last week, Mitchell was an efficient 8 of 11 for 170 yards and three touchdowns.
“I think with our offensive coordinator and myself I think we have game planned well for him and that has helped our ball club,” Griffin said. ““We have great athletes at the skilled position and if we can get the ball into those guys hands and let those guys do their job I think that helps out our team.”
No weeks off in the NWC as action heats up with a number of big match-ups. Front-runner Delphos Jefferson (4-1, 2-0) takes on Bluffton (3-2, 1-1). Bluffton is coming off a 40-7 loss to Allen East and Jefferson defeated Paulding 50-7.
Spencerville (4-1, 2-0), tied with Jefferson for first, battles Columbus Grove (2-3, 0-2). Spencerville is coming off a thrilling 44-41 win over Crestview and Columbus Grove stumbled against Ada 41-14.
The Knights (4-1, 1-1) suffered their first loss of the season, will look to bounce back against Ada (3-2, 1-1).
Lima Central Catholic
The T-Birds (1-4) recorded their first victory with a convincing 43-0 win over Toledo Rogers. LCC will seek to continue its winning ways when it travels to Woodburn, Indiana, for a game against Woodlan. The Warriors are 6-0 and have outscored opponents 282-52. Woodlan is ranked No. 1 in Class 2A.
Delphos St. John’s
Delphos St. John’s dropped its first Midwest Athletic Conference contest of the season when the Blue Jays fell to Anna 42-21 Saturday night. The Blue Jays will try to get back in the win column when they face New Bremen (0-2, 2-3). New Bremen lost to Parkway 41-10 Friday night.
Perry (2-3, 1-1) and Upper Scioto Valley (1-2, 2-3) square off in a Northwest Central Conference tilt Friday night.
Perry is coming off a tough 48-20 loss to NWCC co-leader Lehman. USV picked up its first league victory with a big 45-0 win over Waynesfield-Goshen.
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468 or on twitter at @JoseNogueras1