The Van Wert County Courthouse

Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022

Cougars race by Knights in final scrimmage

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports editor

Aidan Pratt threw three touchdown passes and Nate Jackson ran for two scores as Van Wert defeated Crestview 41-7 in the second and final scrimmage for both teams on Friday night.

A regular game format was used until lightning caused a 30 minute delay with 1:19 left until halftime at Eggerss Stadium. After that, the two teams played a controlled scrimmage with alternating possessions of 10 plays each.

Van Wert’s Connor Pratt races to the end zone after catching a 50-yard pass from Aidan Pratt during Friday’s scrimmage against Crestview. Bob Barnes/Van Wert independent

All of the official scoring came before the delay.

After Ethan Brown ended Crestview’s first possession by intercepting a Carson Hunter pass, the Cougars used just one play to score. Pratt lofted a perfect 50-yard strike to Connor Pratt for the first touchdown of the scrimmage, but the extra point was blocked by the Knights.

“He has such a strong arm and that’s the nice thing, he can sit in the pocket and can see the whole field,” Van Wert head coach Keith Recker said. “He has a real good understanding of the offense, so that’s good and I think he’ll continue to get better on the short and intermediate throws.”

Crestview fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Van Wert took over at the Knight 30. Pratt ended a quick four-play drive with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Garett Gunter and Connor Pratt’s PAT was good, giving the Cougars a 13-0 lead.

After the two teams traded punts, Crestview drove 86 yards in 14 plays and scored on a five yard run by Nick Helt. On the drive, Helt logged six carries for 25 yards and caught a 10-yard pass that set up the touchdown. He finished the scrimmage with 12 carries and 58 yards.

“Nick Helt was voted team captain this week in a landslide,” Crestview head coach James Lautzenheiser said. “I think he’s going to be the heart and soul of this team and he’s a kid that I’ve had the pleasure of working with since he was a fourth grade ball boy.”

Carson Hunter fires a pass for the Knights. Bob Barnes photo

Gunter returned the ensuing kickoff 47 yards and the Cougars capped another four play drive with a two-yard run by Jackson, then Van Wert’s next driive ended with Jackson’s second touchdown, this time from three yards out, putting the Cougars ahead 27-7 with 6:37 left in the second quarter.

The final two scores came when Carter Miller returned a shanked punt 10 yards for a touchdown and when Pratt connected with a wide open Brown from 54 yards out.

Pratt unofficially finished 8-of-13 for 184 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. In addition to touchdown catches by Connor Pratt and Bbrown, Maddix Crutchfield had three receptions for 36 yards and Gunter had a pair of catches for 42 yards.

Jackson finished with eight carries for 29 yards and two scores.

In the controlled portion of the scrimmage, Van Wert backup quarterback Carson Smith sprinted 75 yards for a touchdown.

Hunter completed 4-of-10 passes for 60 yards, including two to Hunter Rothgeb for 42 yards.

“Because of some injuries coming into tonight’s contest we had some shakeups in the lineup and that’s good for us to deal with that adversity,” Lautzenheiser said. “Hunter stepped up and did a pretty good job. He had a throw I’d love for him to take back in that first quarter but I think he would too.”

“I think he grew up tonight in a lot of ways and I’m glad that we had that situation now than a couple of weeks from now,” Lautzenheiser added.

Lautzenheiser also said he’d like to see improvement in the secondary.

While pleased with the overall result, Recker said the Cougars have room for improvement.

“Too many penalties and we had so many times when we weren’t aligned correctly on defense,” Recker stated. “That stuff is frustrating, especially not getting aligned properly. Things like that we have to make sure we shore up before we head to Bryan, but I thought our guys played with great energy and effort.

“We created big plays which we’re going to need to do with losing Owen (Treece) and Dru (Johnson),” Recker added. “We have to find those guys that can make some big plays and I thought we did a good job of getting those tonight.”

Van Wert will open the season at Bryan on Friday, while Crestview will face Parkway in Rockford.

Scoring summary

First quarter

VW – Aidan Pratt 50-yard pass to Connor Pratt (PAT blocked)
VW – Aidan Pratt 30-yard pass to Garett Gunter (Connor Pratt kick)

Second quarter

CV – Nick Helt 5-yard run (Kaden Kreischer PAT)
VW – Nate Jackson 2-yard run (Connor Pratt kick)
VW – Nate Jackson 3-yard run (Connor Pratt kick)
VW – Carter Miller 10-yard punt return (Connor Pratt kick)
VW – Connor Pratt 54-yard pass to Ethan Brown (Connor Pratt kick)

POSTED: 08/13/21 at 9:30 pm. FILED UNDER: Sports