WAYNESFIELD — As the high school football season hits its midway point, Waynesfield-Goshen is 5-0.
Many might find that as a surprise, considering the Tigers had five wins all of last season, and they have not posted a winning season since 2011.
But those who have followed the Tigers have seen the evolution of this squad and Waynesfield-Goshen head coach Shane Wireman is no tall thatsurprised even though he knows there is still work to be done in the second half of the season.
Wireman, who took over the program in 2017 went 0-10 his first year followed by a 2-8 season in 2018 and last year the Tigers went 5-5.
Wireman attributes the unblemished record to senior leadership, a potent offense backed by a bend but don’t break defense and a somewhat favorable schedule.
“I’ve said it a couple of times and looking at the schedule early on — and it is not really a disservice to those teams and we have played and some teams have tested us as times and some of them tested us more than we wanted…but we knew we had an opportunity with those first five,” Wireman said. “I don’t like to use the word favorable but we had some match-ups that we knew we should be in the mix and have a chance to win those games.”
The Tigers opened the season with a 33-24 win over Ayersville, followed by a 33-17 victory over Arcadia. A 60-19 win over Ridgedale capped off their last non league games and in its two Northwest Central Conference clashes, W-G beat Ridgemont 47-22 followed by a 35-14 win over Upper Scioto Valley last Friday night.
The offense has spearheaded many of the team’s wins. With the talented backfield tandem of Joel Rickle and Kyle Searson and a developing Cooper Roberts, the sophomore quarterback, the Tigers are averaging 42.2 points a contest.
“We’ve done enough to get the job done and not that we played perfect or mistake free but it seems like when the games that have been on the line we have done enough to come out victorious so that is kind of where we are at through the first five,” Wireman said.
Wireman calls the one-two punch of Rickle and Searson as one of the best backfield’s in the area.
While the Tigers have relied heavily on the run, Roberts has provided some timely passes to try and keep defenses off balanced. Against USV, Roberts completed six passes but two went for touchdowns.
Receiver Evan Miller, the Tigers’ top receiver, caught both of those for touchdowns.
Wireman said teams are loading up in the box with nine and some time 10 players to stop the run so he is glad to see Roberts give them that passing option to offset the defenses.
Opening the holes and protecting the quarterback has also been a major factor for the Tigers and the offensive line has not disappointed.
Wireman points to the work of senior Josh Kirchner and junior Austin Birt on the right side of the line and the left side is manned by the senior pair of Caleb Garee and Tye Little with two freshmen rotating at the center position in Chase Dunson and Hunter Craig.
Wireman adds keeping these guys healthy and playing as a unit has been instrumental in the Tigers’ offensive success.
While the running game has been tough to stop, Wireman understands that they need to become more balanced as the season continues.
“Our passing game continues to complement our running game,” Wireman said. “Last week our passing wasn’t there and it is nice to lean on the running backs but we know we can’t be one dimensional,” Wireman said. “We have leaned on our offense and now I am hoping the defense begins tow its weights to so we can be balanced offense and defense as well.”
Defensively, Wireman said he sees growth with room for improvement. Early in the season, Wireman said big plays hurt the Tigers and he is looking for the defense to avoid those in the second half of the season.
W-G is giving up an average of 16 points a game. Against USV, the Tigers defense shined as they recorded five turnovers and six sacks.
“Early in the year we had some bone head plays on the backend,” Wireman said. “It seemed like we would blow a coverage of had a misalignment and not communicating. I kind of use that phrase that we bend but when we get down in that red area we are going to lock you down and not let you in the end zone and we have done a pretty good job of that.”
With an undefeated mark, Wireman understands his team have a target on their back. The Tigers has gone from hunter to hunted.
Wireman said the team is enjoying the success and the key for the Tigers is to stay healthy and go game to game as a possible NWCC title and a playoff berth loom in their future if they continue to win.
“We really haven’t really dealt with us being out front and people chasing us a little bit,” Wireman said. “We are coming down the home stretch against a lot of football teams and if you don’t bring your “A” game your going to get beat.
“That is one of our goals that we would like to play week 11 but we know if we don’t play really well week six, week 11 may not happen for us,” Wireman said. “We don’t want to over sell every game that they are super important but we don’t want to take away their confidence. We know we can do great things but we will take day by day and week by week and it has been pretty effective so far.”
Perry, who comes into the game with a 2-0 mark in the NWCC and 2-3 overall, is up next for the Tigers and Wireman said this will be another big test for W-G. After Perry, the Tigers face Riverside (1-1, 2-3), Lehman Catholic (2-0, 2-3), Elgin (0-2, 0-5) and Hardin Northern (1-1, 3-2).
Perry is coming off back-to-back wins over Elgin, 66-36, and Hardin Northern 24-13. The Commodores are led by standout sophomore signal caller Ryan Yingst and Mr. Versatility, Chazz Jackson. Against, the Polar Bears last week, Yingst and Jackson hooked up for two touchdowns.
“We know we are going to have our hand’s full and it starts up front,” Wireman said. “We have to get pressure and keep (Yingst) in the pocket and speed up his process and don’t let him have too much time to make decisions.”
New NWCC commissioner
The Northwest Central Conference is pleased to announce the hiring of Aaron “Matthews” Molaski as its new league commissioner. Aaron will oversee all duties, excluding assigning officials for the NWCC.