The Van Wert County Courthouse

Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022

WBL preview: 5-4 Bath at 8-1 Van Wert

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

It’s all come down to Week No. 10.

A win by Van Wert over Bath will give the Cougars no worse than a share of the 2021 Western Buckeye League championship and quite possibly will cement the No. 2 or No. 3 seed in Division IV, Region 14.

It’s something that many fans and even the No. 7 Cougars (8-1, 7-1 WBL) themselves envisioned before the season got underway.

Aidan Pratt has accounted for nearly 3,200 yards of total offense for the Van Wert Cougars this season. Photo courtesy of Jerry Mason

“With the confidence coming off of the 2020 season combined with a very talented core group returning that worked hard over the summer, we all expected to be near the top of the league and top of our region this season,” Van Wert head coach Keith Recker said. “Our players and assistant coaches have done a great job of preparing each week to be in a position this Friday to win a league championship.”

“Our players do a great job of enjoying themselves and having fun when the moment allows for it while also being ultra focused and prepared when needed. There will be plenty of time after the season to talk about any accolades we are fortunate to earn.”

Meanwhile, Bath (5-4, 4-4 WBL) comes in as arguably the most improved team in the Western Buckeye League after going a combined 6-32 the previous four seasons.

“One of the first steps in getting a program turned around, is being able to compete each week,” Bath head coach Ryan Reindel said. “Our kids do a good job of holding up physically against the top tier WBL teams. We play a tough, physical style football. The next big step for us is to not only compete but find a way to win against those top teams in the league.”

“Our defense has been the strength of our team this season,” Reindel continued. “We have been solid versus the run and have tried to limited the big plays through the air. Our offense has continued to progress each week. Ian Armentrout is doing a great job at quarterback being his first year at that position.”

“The offensive line has been really good at protecting Ian in our passing game and getting (running back) Carter Parlapiano back healthy has helped our production on offense.”

The Wildcats have been shut out twice this season and two of Bath’s losses have come by a touchdown – a 14-7 loss to Shawnee in Week No. 2 and a 28-21 overtime loss to Wapakoneta in Week No. 8. In six games, the Wildcats have their opponent to 14 points or less.

“Bath’s strength is their offensive and defensive line,” Recker said. “They have good size and athleticism up front. Last year they caused us a lot of problems defensively by getting us into a lot of third and fourth and long situations.”

Offensively, their quarterback is a very good player both with his passing ability and running ability. The running back that Bath has runs with great leverage and forward lean and is a true threat in the pass game out of the back field. Bath does a nice job of finding a scheme or play that can hurt you and continually going back to that play.”

While Bath is greatly improved, Reidel knows the Cougars will present a number of challenges.

“Van Wert has a high powered offense,” Reindel said. “The receiving corp has a ton of speed to attack the defense both horizontally and vertically. Aidan Pratt (180-240, 2393 yards, 23 touchdowns, three interceptions, 793 rushing yards, six touchdowns). is a great quarterback. He has a strong arm and is very accurate and they have a really balanced offense so you can not commit to just stopping the run or pass.”

“Defensively, they are very sound. They do not give up big plays and they force the offense to drive the field, which is difficult to do in high school football.”

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

POSTED: 10/20/21 at 4:00 am. FILED UNDER: Sports