The Van Wert County Courthouse

Monday, Jan. 24, 2022

Cougars prepping for Wapak showdown

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports editor

Two contrasting styles of offense will be on display when Van Wert and Wapakoneta meet at Eggerss Stadium on Friday.

The Cougars (3-0) have featured an aerial assault that currently averages 317 yards per game and an offense that has rolled up 506 yards per game through three games, while Wapak (2-1) has stuck with its successful old school power running game that churns out 225 yards per game with occasional passes that provide 68 more yards per contest.

Entering Friday’s game against Wapakoneta, Maddix Crutchfield leads Van Wert in receptions (20) and yards receiving (269). Photo courtesy of Jerry Mason

“They have a great quarteback and running back combination,” Van Wert head coach Keith Recker said. “Both guys are very dangerous runners and we cannot miss tackles or take our eyes off our read if we want to defend them successfully.”

Quarterback Braedan Goulet has 43 carries for 337 yards while running back Jace Mullen has 45 carries for 283 yards. During last week’s 10-7 win over St. Marys Memorial, Mullen had 21 carries for 166 yards and the game’s only touchdown, while Goulet had 16 carries for 98 yards and completed 1-of-10 passes for 39 yards.

By comparison, Van Wert quarterback Aidan Pratt has completed 59-of-70 passes for 924 yards, 11 touchdowns and no interceptions, while rushing for 256 yards and five touchdowns on just 23 carries. Nate Jackson has 24 carries for 130 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Maddix Crutchfield leads the Cougars with 20 receptions for 269 yards and a touchdown while Connor Pratt has 14 catches for 268 yards and three scores. Garett Gunter has proven to be a deep threat as well with eight receptions for 187 yards and three touchdowns.

“Van Wert is an extremely well coached team,” Wapakoneta head coach Travis Moyer said. “Offensively, they have the ability to score from anywhere on the field. They have a dual threat quarterback that has the ability to hurt you with his arm and his legs. Defensively, they are experienced up front and are very athletic on the back end.”

The two teams are No. 5 and 6 among WBL defenses, with the Cougars allowing 264 total yards per game (131 rushing, 116 passing) while Wapakoneta allows 304 yards per game (234 passing, 70 passing), although the Redskins have faced three run-heavy teams.

“Defensively they can go between a four man and three man front but they are so good at their responsibilities that it makes it difficult on offenses, Recker said. “They aren’t fancy on defense but they play hard, run to the ball, and are good tacklers.”

“Our team has continued to improve every week,” Moyer said. “For us to be successful, we need to execute in all three phases of the game.”

Wapakoneta is known as one of the more physical teams in the WBL and Recker noted his team has made improvements in that area since the beginning of the season.

“We’ve continued to improve in most aspects of the game,” Recker stated. “In our scrimmages we weren’t playing very physical football. We have improved how physical we are both offensively in regards to our willingness and ability to block at every position and defensively with fighting off blocks and getting to the football. Sometimes people think only lineman need to be physical, but we need everyone from our skill players to our lineman to play with a tough physical attitude.”

“We finally were on the plus side of turnover ratio last week, which is a huge improvement from where we were previously,” Recker added.

Van Wert won last year’s game 34-0.

Friday’s Wapakoneta at Van Wert game will air live on WERT 1220AM/104.3FM.

POSTED: 09/07/21 at 9:12 pm. FILED UNDER: Sports