The Van Wert County Courthouse

Tuesday, Jun. 18, 2024

Best of the Monday Mailbag: 11/30/2020

This week, the Best of the Monday Mailbag looks back and features the top regular season and playoff questions from readers about the 2020 Division IV state champion Van Wert Cougars. The Monday Mailbag’s regular format will return next week.

August 24

Q: After Friday night’s scrimmage, what is your take on Van Wert? Name withheld upon request

A: I don’t read too much into scrimmages, simply because the object isn’t necessarily to win, it’s a time to work on certain things and game situations, tinker with lineups, etc.

Having said that, I think the Cougars will have nice team speed on both sides of the ball this year. Like any team, Van Wert suffered graduation losses but Keith Recker has some nice returning talent and some younger players ready to step up.

September 14

Q: Are the Van Wert Cougars the real deal this fall? There’s the only undefeated football team left in the WBL. Name withheld upon request

A: They’re certainly fun to watch and I think this team may be better that some people expected.

The one thing that really stands out at me is just how fast the team is. There’s no substitute for speed and they have plenty of it. Having a quarterback who’s a returning starter and is extremely accurate helps too.

It should be a very interesting matchup against St. Marys Memorial this Friday night.

September 27

Q: Your thoughts on Van Wert’s decision to go for two on Friday, instead of kicking and most likely sending the game to overtime? Name withheld upon request

A: It’s easy to second guess but I think it was the absolute right decision.

Van Wert’s offense had just driven 91 yards and scored. Even though the kids were gassed, the offense was on a roll at that point, why not go for two and the win with just 30 seconds left?

The defense had trouble stopping Ottawa-Glandorf for much of the night. If you go to overtime, you’d have to stop them from the 20 yard line at some point to get the win and hope your offense could keep pace.

There was no guarantee the extra point would be good. The Titans had already blocked one kick, who’s to say it wouldn’t happen again, or who’s to say there could have been some sort of other miscue?

Let’s face it – had the conversion been good, we’d be talking about how it was a great decision. It didn’t pan out, but it was certainly worth a shot.

October 4

Q: Now that the brackets are out, how far do you think Van Wert can go in the playoffs? Name withheld upon request

A: Assuming everyone stays healthy, the potential is there for a nice playoff run. However, there’s always a chance for an early round exit.

It’s not an easy region and I believe there are a handful of teams capable of winning a regional championship. Along with Bellevue, Shelby and Huron, I think Kenton, Clyde and yes, Van Wert are at least dark horse contenders.

Kenton’s offense poses problems for any opponent, Clyde is the defending Division IV state champion and always seems to rise to the occasion in the postseason and Van Wert has the speed to compete at a high playoff level.

A key for the Cougars to advance will a sharp reduction in penalties. Flags haunted Van Wert in a loss to Ottawa-Glandorf and Keith Recker said after the Bath game that things need to get cleaned up.

November 16

Q: Can Van Wert win the state? Can the offense and defense do their job? Tim Hockett

A: In my mind the Cougars can win it and yes, I think the offense and defense are up to the task. We’ll find out for sure on Sunday.

In my opinion, the defense has done an outstanding job during the playoffs, especially against the run, and the guys have made plays and stops at critical times. Saturday’s game against Wyoming is a prime example of that. CJ Hester came in averaging 118 yards per game and seven yards per carry, but was held to 52 yards on 25 carries.

Saturday was the first time we’ve seen Van Wert’s offense slowed down to a certain degree, but the Cougars made plays when necessary.

It’s going to feel like a long week waiting for this game.

POSTED: 11/30/20 at 4:51 am. FILED UNDER: Sports