The Van Wert County Courthouse

Monday, May. 25, 2020

Cougars, Knights hoping for grid victories

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports

Believe it or not, high school football’s regular season is half over. Teams throughout the area and the state have played five games, and will play five more before postseason play begins for 224 qualifying squads.

It’s been a tough season so far for the 0-5 (0-4 WBL) Van Wert Cougars.

Crestview's Grant Schlagbaum (7) catches a Drew Kline pass on his helmet for a touchdown during Friday's game against Spencerville. (Bob Barnes/Van Wert independent)
Crestview’s Grant Schlagbaum (7) catches a Drew Kline pass on his helmet for a touchdown during last Friday’s game against Spencerville. (Bob Barnes/Van Wert independent)

Among the losses: a heartbreaking two-point defeat to Lima Shawnee, plus losses to two state-ranked teams (St. Marys Memorial and Ottawa-Glandorf).

The Cougars are ready to put those losses behind them and look ahead to games against Elida, Lima Bath, Celina, Defiance, and Wapakoneta.

“We look at every week as a fresh start,” Van Wert Head Coach Keith Recker said. “It’s a new opponent, a new game plan, a new chance to improve as a team.”

Along with a tough Western Buckeye League schedule, the Cougars have had to deal with various injuries and limited depth, but Recker said, while he hates to see a player get injured, it’s not an excuse.

“We put the next guy in and tell them it’s their time to make an impact on the team,” Recker said. “We want them to understand the ‘next man up’ mentality and have faith in whoever is replacing the injured guys.”

Van Wert will celebrate homecoming Friday night against Elida, and Recker believes it couldn’t have come at a better time.

“I think it’s exciting that there is a parade, pep rally, powder puff game, and dinner with the grand marshal,” Recker said. “All of these things make it fun for our players and our student body.”

“So while it’s getting tougher with each loss to bring the energy and enthusiasm needed, having a lot of excitement around school this week helps,” Recker added.

Meanwhile, the Crestview Knights (4-1, 1-1 NWC) will try to shake off last Friday’s 44-41 loss at Spencerville.

The two teams erupted for 56 points in the third quarter alone, and it appeared the game would go to overtime, but the Bearcats used a long pass to set up a game-winning 26-yard field goal as time expired.

“I felt like we played well enough to give ourselves a chance to win last week, but Spencerville just made a few more plays than we did,” Crestview Head Coach Jared Owens said.

While the Knights still control their own destiny in terms of at least a share of the Northwest Conference title and a playoff berth, things won’t get any easier.

Four of the five remaining teams on the schedule have winning records — Ada, Allen East, Delphos Jefferson and Bluffton — while the fifth team, Paulding, has shown signs of improvement.

“I knew that the NWC, as it seems like it’s been the last several years, would be a deep and talented league,” Owens said.

After facing Spencerville’s powerful “ground and pound” attack last Friday, the Knights will see a vastly different look against Ada (3-2, 1-1 NWC). The Bulldogs are averaging 40 pass attempts and nearly 300 yards through the air per game, but only 10 yards per game on the ground.

“The things that we have to do defensively still do not change,” Owens said. “We have to play our assignments, read our keys and tackle well enough to be able to stop them consistently.”

Of note: Despite the loss to Spencerville, media members throughout the state still consider Crestview one of the top teams in Division VII.

The Knights are ranked 11th in this week’s Associated Press football poll.

POSTED: 09/29/16 at 7:22 am. FILED UNDER: Sports