VAN WERT – Even as a youngster, Owen Treece knew he wanted to be the quarterback for Van Wert.
Treece even shared his vision back then with Van Wert head football coach Keith Recker, who still is the head coach for the Cougars.
Treece not only fulfilled his dream of becoming Van Wert’s signal-caller, but he took it to a whole new level.
This season, as a senior, Treece helped lead Van Wert to its first-ever football state championship, when Van Wert (11-1) defeated Mentor Lake Catholic, 31-28 for the Division IV state title.
Treece’s stellar season has earned him many honors. Among those accolades, Treece was named The Lima News Dream Team Offensive Player of the Year.
Recker said Treece made it known at a young age, that he would someday lead the Cougars at quarterback.
“It’s been really neat, because nine years ago when I got here, he was an 8-, or 9-year old, running around here,” Recker said. “And he knew at that time, he wanted to play quarterback for the Cougars and be No. 7. … He told me that. He has always wanted to do that.
“The neat thing about him is that he has goals, and he knows what he needs to do to get there. Even as a little kid, he knew what he wanted to do; and he’s willing to work every day for that,” Recker said.
At 5-feet, 11-inches tall and 190 pounds, Treece showcased his athletic abilities on the gridiron.
In the Western Buckeye League voting this postseason, Treece was named First-Team All-WBL at quarterback, as well as the co-offensive back of the year. On the defensive side of the football, Treece was named First Team All-WBL at a linebacker spot – earning co-defensive back of the year league honors.
“I love being part of the action on every down,” Treece said, in reference to playing on both sides of the football. “So, playing both ways is something you have to do. I feel like if you want to be the best you can be and help your team, I feel like you have to be able to do it on both sides of the ball.”
Treece also was named Northwest District Division IV Offensive Player of the Year. At the time of this article, the all-Ohio teams had not been announced yet.
Recker was named the Northwest District Division IV Co-Coach of the Year.
When Treece entered high school, he had to wait for his opportunity to take over behind center. He finally became the starting quarterback his junior year.
“My whole life, before high school, I was always a quarterback,” Treece said. “That was like my main position. I played a slot receiver (early on in high school), because we had Nate Place at quarterback; and I wasn’t going to be on the field my sophomore year. So, after Nate graduated, Coach said, ‘You’re now the man at quarterback’. So, that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.”
Treece put up some stellar numbers this season. For the 12 games, Treece was 235 of 348 passing (67.5 percent) for 3,099 yards with 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also got it done with his legs, rushing for 1,036 yards on 198 carries (5.2 yards per carry) with 20 TDs.
However, football is not the only sport Treece excels at. He’s also a standout on both the baseball diamond and basketball court.
Treece said he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“My summers have always been crazy,” Treece said. “I’ve been dedicated to that since I was really young. I’ve always enjoyed all three sports. I said that I would never quit one. Just being able to balance it out, working hard in each one, is how I got to this point.”
Recker said Treece is one of the hardest working athletes he has ever coached.
“At first, we thought, ‘Is he going to get worn out?’” Recker said. “But he doesn’t. His energy and enthusiasm for everything he does just feeds his will to continue to get better.
“It’s really easy to coach a kid like that, because he is so self-motivated. You don’t have to push him to get to a workout, or get to a practice. He understands what he wants; and he understands what he needs to do.”
Treece relishes what the Van Wert program has accomplished. He gives a great deal of credit to his teammates and the coaching staff.
“My freshman year, we went 5-5,” Treece said. “After that season, Coach Recker really harped on focusing on one day at a time, because he said you can’t change anything in the past. He said that we could not overlook teams.
“My skill players are incredible – Dru Johnson, Connor Pratt, Nate Jackson, Maddix Crutchfield and Ian Cowan. … They make my life a lot easier. We push each other to be the best that we can be. This is one of the closest teams I’ve ever been a part of. Everyone gets along, and we push each other to get better.”
Treece said it was bittersweet to play at Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium for this year’s state title game. Not only was it the venue for the state title game, but it was the same place his father, Troy Treece played at when he was an all-state defensive lineman for Van Wert in the late 1980s.
“He played at Massillon in the North-South All Star Game his senior year,” Treece said about his father. “So, he was really glad I got a chance to play there for a state championship.
“He pushed me as hard as anyone could. He pushed me to be the best that I could be.”
Treece not only excels in three sports, but he also is a 4.0-student in the classroom.
“My parents have always pushed me to be the best that I can be in everything I do. I’ve always done really well in the classroom,” Treece said.
At the moment, Treece is not set on which direction he will go when it comes time to go to college. However, he is certain that sports will be a huge part of his college career.
“I’m just going through my senior year. I haven’t decided yet (on which sport or college),” Treece said.