OTTAWA — The blonde look is in for the Ottawa-Glandorf football team.
Prior to the start of the playoffs, the Titans, including head coach Ken Schriner, all bleached their hair and while some of it is beginning to wear off as the team enters week four of the postseason the team’s attitude remains as strong as ever as they enter the Division IV regional finals against Clyde at Findlay’s Donnell Stadium at 7 p.m. Saturday.
The team-bonding experience is a major part of what has made the the Titans successful said seniors Aaron Rieman and Jarrod Beach.
The two seniors said the team camaraderie began prior to the season during two-a-days and the team has not let up since then.
“Mine is starting to turn black,” said Jarrod Beach, a two-way starter at receiver and linebacker about his platinum top. “It brings us together as a team.”
Beach reiterated that this team’s bonding began during the offseason and it is still going strong.
“We do a good job at playing as a team,” Beach said. “That comes with us practicing hard. During two-a-days we really started to gel and we are all kind of friends and that helps too.”
Another reason the winning chemistry has worked for the Titans is that the players check their egos.
“None of us are super athletes or going DI or anything,” Rieman said. “We just do our jobs, know our roles and are good at our jobs,” Rieman said. “We are a bunch of smart kids that know what to do that work super hard.”
Because of the past two injury filled seasons, the Titans were a combined 8-12 and the expectations outside the Titan locker room were not high and that was fine with the team.
Rieman, a first-team, all-WBL selection on the offensive line, said they wanted to get off to a strong start to prove everybody they were a force in the league. In week one, the Titans lost a tough 21-14 decision to Eastwood, but after that the Titans reeled off seven straight wins, including a big one against St. Marys in week three.
“”We worked so hard in the two-a-days and the weight room and so we really pushed for a good start,” Riemen said. “I really liked playing that underdog role this year, and I think a lot of teams thought we were the underdogs and we really thrived on that.”
“I think players started to care more about winning, and they weren’t satisfied with losing,” Beach added. “I definitely think people started underestimating but as the season went on people respected us more and more.”
Resiliency is continually brought up with this team. The Titans pulled off some thrilling wins in the regular season and they showed how resilient they were when they lost the final two regular season games that cost them the Western Buckeye League championship.
The Titans endured a late Kenton comeback in a 14-9 loss and then Wapakoneta handed them a heartbreaking, 7-6 defeat.
“It just lit another fire under us, and we wanted to get back and keep winning,” Rieman said.
“We kind of shook them off because they were both tight losses and winnable games,” Beach said. “Monday came around, and we weren’t really thinking about it.”
The same approach has worked in the playoffs. In the team’s playoff run the Titans have utilized the same formula and in their 21-14 regional semifinal win against Wauseon, it was typical Titan football with nothing flashy but a solid offensive showing backed by another big defensive effort.
“I think our defense kept us in the game throughout the evening, and we played great in the second half,” said Schriner, who’s hair is slowly reverting back to its distinguished gray. “Offensively, we were opportunistic and the special teams were the unsung heroes of the game. Ethan Alt’s punting and pinning them deep numerous times.”
Schriner added that the offense did get bogged down in the red zone against Wauseon, and he said it wouldn’t get any easier down the road.
The Fliers, much like the Titans, have had a rollercoaster of a season and made the playoffs with a 6-4 mark and were an eighth seed. Clyde has thrived in the playoffs and is coming off a 35-21 win Saturday night against Shelby.
“They play in a similar conference. They are one of the smallest schools in the Sandusky Bay Conference much like we are in the WBL,” Schriner said. “They are a tough, physical group. They have a great history. I believe this is their eighth straight playoff appearance.”
The Titan defense will be facing quarterback Ryan Lozier who during the regular season was 106-for 166 for 1,512 yards and 11 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Lozier’s top target is Carson Rieman who caught 52 passes for 722 yards and four touchdowns during the regular season. The top running back is Gunner Golden who carried the ball 166 times for 827 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Against Shelby last week, the Fliers rallied with 28 second half points to secure the win. In the game, Golden rushed for 125 yards and three touchdowns.
Like it has been in the previous games, Schriner said the top priority is controlling the line of scrimmage.
“Up front they are good and physical and it is a wing T-based offense and defensively they blitzed a lot so we have to hold down the line of scrimmage.” Schriner said. “It always comes down to mistakes. You can’t have penalties. You can’t have turnovers and special teams are always going to be huge.