The Van Wert County Courthouse

Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022

Preview: Cougars (4-1) vs. Titans (3-2)

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports editor

If the previous four matchups are any kind of indicator, Friday night’s game between No. 7 Van Wert and Ottawa-Glandorf should be an exciting one.

In 2017 at Eggerss Stadium, the Cougars pulled out a 19-17 victory, then posted a 40-34 overtime win in 2018. The Titans returned the favor with a 35-28 overtime win in 2019, then a failed two-point conversion was the difference in last year’s 35-34 O-G win, the only loss of the season for Van Wert.

Nate Jackson (20), Turner Witten (76), Brylen Parker (7) and the Cougar defense will try to slow Ottawa-Glandorf’s offense on Friday. The two teams will meet at Eggerss Stadium. Photo courtesy of Jerry Mason

“I believe we both have a lot of talent not only this year but in the years’ past, which has made for very competitive games,” Van Wert head coach Keith Recker said. “It’s a fun game to coach and play in because there are constant adjustments that need to be made to counter what they do. If we show up with great effort and energy it should be another good game to compete in.”

“Both teams are very well coached,” Ottawa-Glandorf head coach Ken Schriner said. “We understand each other and our teams are similar with personnel and even schemes. Van Wert has many veterans back from an outstanding team last year. They added a few faces but their coaches are doing a great job of utilizing their strengths and talents. They’re a team with outstanding athletes and speed on both sides of the ball.”

A lot is riding on Friday’s game, as the winner will remain in a first-place tie in the Western Buckeye League, while the loser will fall a game back in the standings. Currently, the two teams, along with Wapakoneta and Shawnee are tied for first. The Redskins and Indians will face off on Friday.

The Cougars (4-1, 3-1 WBL) are coming off their first loss of the season, 21-14 to St. Marys Memorial. Mistakes and penalties loomed large in the game, things Van Wert hopes to correct this week.

“We want to make sure we are getting better each day, win or lose,” Recker stated. “No matter the outcome of the previous week we must have the attitude to bring our best focus, effort, and energy to each day. We must work on executing techniques and schemes at full speed so we have the confidence to do it during the game.”

Van Wert has struggled against the run the last two weeks, giving up over 300 yards rushing to Wapakoneta in Week No. 4 and nearly 300 yards to the Roughriders last week.

After an 0-2 start, Ottawa-Glandorf (3-2, 3-1 WBL) has won three straight, including a 35-0 victory over Bath last Friday night. The Titans are averaging 112 rushing yards behind an offensive line that goes 310, 240, 245, 225 and 230 pounds, while averaging 223 yards per game through the air.

Landen Jordan has completed 61-of-104 passes for 1,081 yards, 11 touchdowns and four interceptions. His main two targets are Caleb Kuhlman (24-525, seven touchdowns) and Colin White (18-361, four touchdowns). On the ground, Cy Rump is the leading ground gainer with 43 carries for 176 yards, while Ian Fenbert has 16 carries for 135 yards and two touchdowns. Jordan has added 50 carries for 116 yards and five touchdowns.

“O-G is the most well-rounded team we will play this year,” Recker stated. “They can run and pass the ball effectively and they do a great job of scheming opponents and adjusting those schemes to give themselves a chance to win. They have talent at every position and have very good size on both sides of the line of scrimmage.”

Defensively, the Titans are allowing 158 yards per game rushing and 99 passing, while intercepting eight passes.

“We’ve made personnel adjustments and scheme adjustments,” Schriner said. “I feel we are now on track to be the team that we thought we could be. We are playing much better as a team and players are learning to work together and adapt to adjustments all over the field.”

Van Wert will counter with an offense that’s averaging 486 yards per game, including 194 per game on the ground and 292 through the air. Aidan Pratt has completed 100-of-133 passes for 1,428 yards, 15 touchdowns and two interceptions, while running for 485 yards and eight touchdowns on 57 carries.

Maddix Crutchfield leads the Cougars in receptions with 35 for 297 yards and two touchdowns while Connor Pratt is the leader in receiving yards with 425 on 22 catches, plus three touchdowns. Garett Gunter has added 16 receptions for 317 yards and five touchdowns.

Trey Laudick has returned kickoffs 97 and 98 yards for touchdowns the previous two weeks, although the 98-yarder against St. Marys Memorial as wiped out by a penalty.

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

POSTED: 09/22/21 at 3:55 am. FILED UNDER: Sports