The Northwest Conference and the North Central Conference open play this week and two teams, Spencerville and Perry, are both looking to get off to a good start.
These two teams squared off against each other last week and the game served a purpose for both teams in a game that saw the Bearcats win 46-12.
For Perry, head coach Dan Baker said it is a chance for his team to refocus and for Spencerville it is an opportunity to build on an impressive outing.
Perry got off to a great start to the season by recording two wins against Ottawa Hills 61-7 followed by a 40-28 win over Allen East. But Friday night, the Commodores ran into a buzz saw in Spencerville on the brink of the NWCC season.
Perry is looking to get back in the win column when they face Hardin Northern (1-2).
“We’ve done something really well in a couple of those games and one of those games we didn’t play our best that’s for sure,” Perry head coach Dan Baker said. “But overall we are doing some things well offensively and defensively and we have held people from not scoring many points and we have been a bend but don’t break.”
Baker added that the loss to Spencerville served as chance for the Commodores to re-focus. The Bearcats racked up 473 total yards with 470 of those coming on the ground. Offensively, Perry had 243 total yards but could not generate any on the ground and were held to 25 rushing yards.
“The best way to put it is that it refocused us and there was a definite sense of ok we shouldn’t have played the way we played yesterday (Monday) in practice,” Baker said. “Monday’s practice is one of the better practices that we had and the guys came out motivated. We have a lot of guys that are hungry and have a chip on their shoulder and want to gain and earn some respect out here. They felt they let some play slide through instead of how they should have been playing.”
Baker added that he was happy to see the players take ownership of their play and understand they have to play and practice harder in the future.
Perry has a lot to build on from its first three games.
Offensively, quarterback Louis Hoersten has been solid this season. The signal caller is 30 of 54 for 510 yards and six touchdowns and has run for 142 yards and five touchdowns.
Out of the backfield, Shane Overly has rushed for 182 yards on 38 carries and three touchdowns.
Junior Chazz Jackson has been the Commodores top receiver with 239 yards on 11 catches and two touchdowns and Martel White who has eight receptions for 181 yards and three touchdowns.
“Louis has been doing a great job for us and the offensive line has been pretty solid so for,” Baker said. “You have a couple of receivers out there that are threats out there any time you throw the ball in the air.”
Baker added that he said opposing coaches have commented on the talent Perry has throughout the offense.
Defensively, Brayden Owens and Nylan Cannon share the lead in tackles with 35 tackles. Owens has six tackles for loss and two sacks and Cannon has four tackles for loss and two sacks. Defensive lineman Khaliq Garner has three sacks and five tackles for loss and Malik Waters has two interceptions.
Baker said that against Ottawa-Hills they held them to under 100 yards and while Allen East had some big numbers, the Commodores held them in check for most of the game.
But things took a turn south against Spencerville who utilized their potent running game to wear done Perry’s defense.
“Against Spencerville we gave up a lot of points and a lot of yards so we have to get back to the mentality of where we were the first couple of weeks of coming off the ball a little more aggressively, making tackles a little better and focusing on our assignments and executing those assignments.”
As the Commodores enter NWCC play, Baker understands that unlike last year they are not going to surprise anyone after the successful run Perry had last year that saw them finish second in NWCC.
“I think everyone knows we are going to get everybody’s best game,” Baker said. “We have talked about it with the team and the kids know it. You have are know coming out there after beating a team last year instead of losing to them you are going to get their best game. They are going to circle that game on their schedule, practice all week and prepare for you.”
Baker added that he know of a couple of teams that were preparing for Perry as early as this summer. Despite being the hunted instead of the hunted that has been the case in past years, Baker said the players are embracing that role.
Spencerville prepares for NWC competition
Spencerville comes into NWC play after going 2-1 in the season and head coach Chris Sommers knows there is still plenty of work ahead for his team and it begins in practice.
“I think each week we have gotten better which has been the goal,” Sommers said. “I think it is like any other team you want to improve each week. We have played some really good competition and some really excellent programs with Lima Central Catholic, Parkway and Perry.”
Sommers added that each week has presented some challenges. The Bearcats opened the season with a loss to a state ranked LCC, 34-19, Spencerville rebounded with a 28-21 win over Parkway and a 46-12 over Perry.
Spencerville has seen their traditionally strong running game continually improve and manufacture its best game of the season against Perry when they rolled up 470 yards on the ground.
A trio of backs collected more than 100 yards. Cale Lee led the way with 206 yards and one touchdown, followed by Cannan Johnson with 121 and two touchdowns, and Joel Lotz with 112 yards and one touchdown.
While these guys get the glory, Sommers points out it is the guys up front who are doing the heavy lifting
“I think the thing we always do is look up front and how physical can we be up front,” Sommers said. “We are relatively young and we they have gotten better. We have a great line coach in Rick Orr. He is fantastic and does such a great job.”
Johnson is the leading rusher in the NWC with 416 yards and Lee is fourth with 302 yards. The two have combined for seven touchdowns.
Defensively, Spencerville is giving up an average 308 total yards a 131 a game and Sommers knows his secondary will be tested against an Allen East squad that is averaging 280 yards a game through the air.
“Defensively I think we are improving and each week I see a more confidence and when you are more confident defensively you can move a little bit quicker so those are the some of the goals each week is to play more confident and that comes from film study and knowing the plan. I think we are getting to that point ” Sommers said.
Mustang quarterback Tyler Clum has thrown for 841 yards and eight touchdowns with six interceptions.
Allen East receiver Cole Fletcher has caught 12 balls for 381 yards and three touchdowns and is averaging 32.7 yards a catch and 130 yards a game. Teammates Bryce Belcher and Bradden Crumrine have combined for 16 catches for 335 yards and five touchdowns.
“They are explosive and they have great weapons,” Sommers said. “They have a great offense. I think No.1 it starts with their coach and Wes Schroeder and I think he has done an awesome job and phenomenal coach and impressed with what he has done.”