WAPAKONETA – Wapakoneta has reached step three in their pursuit of a state championships and the Redskins are looking to take another big stride towards that ultimate goal when they face Kettering Alter at Piqua at 7 p.m. Friday.
“I think it is important for us to continue to understand that this is a process and this is step No. 3 towards goal No. 1 of winning a state championship,”said Travis Moyer about preparing his team for the regional final. “We understand the deeper you go the better quality of football teams you are going to see and obviously and this week is no different.”
The Redskins face an Alter that is riding an 11-game winning streak and are averaging 35.5 points a game but more impressive is the Knight’s defense that is giving up 7.3 points a game.
On offense Alter is led by dual threat quarterback Connor Bazelak. The senior signal caller has passed for 1,197 yards and 11 touchdowns and ran for 371 yards and six scores.
Sophomore running back Branden McDonald has amassed 1,438 yards and 16 touchdowns. In his last five games, the Knight runner has eclipsed the 100 yard barrier and notched 120 yards on 22 carries against Badin in Alter’s last playoff win.
As a team Alter is averaging 391.9 on the ground and 113.9 through the air.
Defensively, Alter has recorded three shutouts this year and only one opponent has scored 20 points on the Knights.
Junior linebacker Antwann Martin leads Alter in tackles with 84.
Moyer said the key to being successful against Alter is to continue to do what has worked for the Redskins especially in the last three games that include the big win over St. Marys to close out the year and the two postseason wins.
In the playoff games, the Redskins have effectively run the ball despite the loss of Riley Gibson who was used sparingly against Fenwick. Bulldozing back Evan Kaeck has led the offense charge and rushed for an impressive 220 yards and three touchdowns against Fenwick Friday night.
Moyer points out that the Redskins’ ability to run the ball effectively has helped set up key passes for Wapakoneta. An example of this came last week when on what would be Wapakoneta’s game-winning drive, the Redskins hit a key pass for a first down.
Moyer said teams have tried to crowd the box to stop Wapakoneta’s ground game but have been unsuccessful.
“I think what makes us defend is that we have the versatility to reduce the box through our formations and we have the opportunity to get a lot of people involved in our run game,” Moyer said.
But if the offense has done it job, the defense is what has been the difference.”
Not only have they limited their opponents for excellent field positions but they have produced turnovers and held strong in the second half. In its two playoff wins, Wapakoneta has outscored its opponents 20-3.
“I think our defense, first and foremost, have done a great job,” Moyer said. “Credit our coaches for putting together a plan and credit the kids for going out and executing that plan. I think the thing that we have been able to do is settle down.”
Moyer added that as the Redskins go deeper into the playoffs the speed of the game increases and he said it has taken his team times to adjust when they first get on the field because these are opponents they are unfamiliar with and must make changes on the fly.
“I think what we’ve done a good job is adjusting to what teams are trying to do to us and then adapting to the speed that we are seen and think that has been really important,” Moyer said. “Anytime you win the turnover margin you have a greater opportunity of winning a football game.
As part of those adjustments, the Redskins have forced turnovers that have resulted in points in both playoff games and Moyer said it is critical the Redskins do the same this week against Alter.
Moyer added that because of Alter’s talented skilled players it is imperative the Redskins make tackles especially in open space.
“We need to eliminate the big play and continue to do the little things to be successful,” Moyer said.
Moyer said he feels field position is also a vital component.