WAPAKONETA – Wapakoneta plays St. Marys in its annual Auglaize County clash this week and the game has been one of the most exciting rivalries over the years. In the last five seasons the game has been decided by 10 points or less in the last four.
Since 2014, both of these teams have either won or shared the Western Buckeye League football title.
This year there is no league championship on the line and although that does little to temper the enthusiasm for the game, the news that Wapakoneta will be without 11 starters due to the coronavirus does put a damper on the contest.
Wapakoneta head coach Travis Moyer had to remove three players prior to last week’s opening 14-10 loss to Celina and this week with the school dealing with a major outbreak of Covid-19, 11 starters will be unavailable against the Roughriders Friday.
“We were disappointed with the outcome last week,” Moyer said. “I felt like our kids represented our community in a first class manner. I think we dealt with adversity last week and it was situation where our kids showed how resilient they were and I was really proud of their effort.”
Moyer added that what spoke volumes to him was that he had players who never expected to see playing time come in and start and nearly pull out the victory.
Celina scored a fourth quarter touchdown to edge the Redskins.
Wapakoneta was held to 164 rushing yards but the defense did hold Celina to 176 total yards.
With half his starters out this week, Moyer added that it is now time for some of those younger and more inexperienced players to step up and get the job done and said he is preparing to go win a football game against the Roughriders.
“We are going to be short-handed in terms of our roster but we are going out and compete at a high level and our expectation is to win a football game,” Moyer said. “I guess we have taken the term ‘next man up’ to another level. We even talked to our players even before this started that you have to be ready to play at anytime on Friday night and our kids did that and competed at a high level. We have to have that as we move forward.”
Moyer added that he is stressing to those players who will take the field is to do their job to the best of their ability and good things will happen.
“We need to do all the things to do to win the football game and that is to take care of the football, and hopefully we will be able create some turnovers and create some short fields for offense and when we get an opportunity to make a big play we have to take advantage of that opportunity,” Moyer said. “They (St. Marys) are extremely talented and extremely good and we have a big challenge in front of us.”
Wapakoneta will have its hands full against a Roughrider squad that is coming off a 27-7 first week win over Bath.
After starting off slow in a scoreless first half, St. Marys put it all together by scoring 27 second half points.
St. Marys head coach Doug Frye said his team expected a slow start due to no seven on seven camps during the summer and pretty much playing half a scrimmage and said he was just happy to be back on the field playing football.
“You saw some some mistakes early on that were typical of a first or second scrimmage and saw some conditioning levels that I thought we worked extremely hard with our athletes getting them in shape … but there is no substitute for playing four quarters of football.”
The Roughriders rushed for 220 yards and held the Wildcats to 190 total yards. St. Marys had 99 yards total offense in the first half, all of it on rushing plays. Bath had 54 yards total offense.
Credit the Roughrider defense for setting up their first score and the team’s special teams for the second touchdown.
“I think our perseverance was our biggest positive,” Frye said. “We just continued to play hard and eventually things started to click for us in the second half. I give Bath a lot of credit. I thought going in that they were an improved to team going into the game and they have athleticism and big linemen so we knew it would be a match up that would be tough.”
Frye added that one of the big challenges coaching in that first game, other than talking through a mask, was the short halftime and having to making adjustment in that 10 minute window.
“Typically after the first scrimmage or first game you learn things you have to take care of and have to improve on and get the right personnel on the field.
As far as preparing goes, Frye knows this is a rivalry game and that adds a lot of incentive but right now he is more focused on how his team can show improvements.
“I concern myself with taking care more of our own team and be ready to play come Friday night,” Frye said.
Even though Moyer understands its going to be a tough test, he said this game is always meaningful.
“This game is always important for both communities and it is not a normal year in terms of no WBL title but we are very fortunate to have great support in our community and we know a lot can’t be at the game but they are rooting for us and they want to see us do well,” Moyer said. “Anytime you go against a backyard rival it is a big game and so we have a big time challenge in front of us this week.”