Last year after week 3, Kenton was 1-2 and preparing for Wapakoneta and St. Marys. The banged up Wildcats would drop those next two games and pretty much put them out of the Western Buckeye League title chase after losing to Celina to open league play and give them three losses.
This season a more healthy and experienced Kenton (2-1, 2-0) squad looks to reverse that trend this year when they face Wapakoneta (3-0, 2-0) after opening up the league with wins over Celina, 49-13, and Defiance, 48-10. The Wildcats lone loss came in their nonleague opener to state powerhouse Coldwater, 52-27.
“We are getting ready to enter the meat of our schedule with Wapakoneta and St. Marys,” Kenton head coach Brent Fackler said. “We are trying to be in the upper echelon of the league. This is a big test for us and a challenge for us coming up.”
With Jaron Sharp behind center for his senior year, the Wildcat offense is once again putting up big points. The senior signal caller has already passed for 946 yards and 13 touchdowns with three interceptions this year and has run for 244 yards and four touchdowns.
“Jaron comes into his senior year and had really developed his game,” Fackler said. “He also had great receivers who are an athletic guys that can make some plays.”
Kenton receivers Jayden Cornell and Landon Rush, who were in the top 10 in receiving last year in the WBL, are right back at it. Cornell, the top receiver in the WBL, has caught 18 balls for 439 yards and nine touchdowns and right behind him is Rush who has 13 catches for 292 yards and two touchdowns.
The Wildcats are averaging 315.3 yards through the air.
One area of concerns for the Wildcats was up front on the offensive line where Kenton had some holes to fill. However, Fackler said offensive line had been doing a great job.
Like the offense, Fackler has seen tremendous progress from what he describes as a young squad who’s has trouble staying off the field. The Kenton head coach attributes some of that to the special teams.
“The defensive line has been our strength,” said Fackler, who had three of his four top linemen back this year. “
Fackler points to the play of juniors Noah Eikenbary and Austin Moore who have produced multiple tackles for losses and sacks this season and the aggressive play of linebacker Trent Lawrence. The secondary, which had a minor overhaul, has also produced for the Wildcats.
Luke Fackler is second in the league in tackles with 35 and Lawrence is second with 29 tackles. Jake Eversole and Sharp both have two interceptions.
Fackler knows all areas of his defense will be tested against a balanced Redskin that is effective in the air and on the ground.
“They have a pretty good offense with some good size,” Fackler said. “They are tough to stop.”
Against the run, Kenton is giving up an average of 167 yards on the ground and 150 yards through the air.
The Redskins feature a two-headed attack with Riley Gibson and Evan Kaeck. Both rushed for more than 100 yards against Van Wert and Gibson totalled 235 yards against Shawnee last week. On the strength of last week’s performance, Gibson leads the WBL in rushing with 343 yards and three touchdowns. Kaeck is third in the league with 304 yards and five touchdowns.
Erb has passed for 170 yards and touchdown and run for 202 yards rushing.
Wapakoneta is second in the league on the rushing offense averaging 300yards on the ground and 56.7 through the air.
“The key to winning the game is to control the line of scrimmage,” Fackler said.
In other WBL action Friday, Bath (0-3, 0-2) at Celina (2-1, 1-1), Elida (1-2, 1-2) at Defiance (1-2, 1-1), St. Marys (3-0, 2-0) at Shawnee (1-2, 0-2) and Van Wert (1-2, 0-2) at Ottawa-Glandorf (2-1, 1-1).
Toledo Central Catholic (3-0,) vs. Lima Senior (3-0)
The Spartans are coming off their first win of the season after defeating the upstart Christian of Faith Academy 26-12. While the team continues to show improvements Lima Senior will have its hands full against state ranked Toledo Central Catholic.
The second ranked Irish in the Division II poll, are outscoring their opponents 121-27, this year and are coming off a 34-10 victory over Detroit Catholic Central
Toledo Waite (3-0) at Lima Central Catholic (3-0)
Lima Central Catholic remained unbeaten after defeating Ada 43-20 Friday night and will face another unbeaten squad in Toledo Waite Saturday at 1 p.m. Waite is coming off a close, 30-28 victory over Oregon Clay.
Leipsic (3-0, 1-0) at. Van Buren (1-2, 0-2)
Pandora-Gilboa (3-0, 1-0) at Liberty-Benton (0-3, 0-1)
Marion Local (3-0, 1-0) at Delphos St. John’s (0-1, 1-2)