The Van Wert County Courthouse

Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022

Van Wert routs Bath, earns WBL title share

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

Just call them Western Buckeye League champions.

Van Wert capped off the 2021 regular season with a resounding 51-7 home victory over Bath, giving the Cougars a 9-1 (8-1 WBL) record and a share of the WBL title with Wapakoneta.

Aidan Pratt (15) runs away from Bath defenders on the way to the end zone on Friday. Trey Laudick (9) caught three touchdown passes from Pratt. Bob Barnes/Van Wert independent

“I’m so happy for our guys,” Van Wert head coach Keith Recker said. “They put in all the work over the off-season to play like they do week-to-week. I’m happy for our assistant coaches who do a great job coaching their guys up and getting them ready for game days.”

It’s Van Wert’s first WBL football title since 1987, when the Cougars shared the championship with St. Marys Memorial and Kenton. It’s also the first 9-1 regular season finish since 1969.

Aidan Pratt threw three touchdown passes, all to Trey Laudick, and ran for two more scores. 20 of Van Wert’s points came in the first quarter. After Shawnee won the toss and deferred, Pratt took the Cougars on a 10-play, 60-yard drive that ended with a five-yard touchdown pass to Laudick.

Van Wert scored twice more in the opening quarter, on runs of 15 and eight yards by Pratt. By the end of the period, the junior quarterback had 10 carries for 97 yards and the two scores.

“We struggled against them last year,” Recker said. “Knowing how good they are defensively it put a lot of pressure on our guys on offense but they responded very well.”

The Cougars were turned away on downs deep in Bath territory with 9:47 left in the second quarter, then after a long Bath drive ended with a punt, Nate Jackson ended an eight-play, 74-yard drive with a six yard touchdown run. A key play on the drive was a 29-yard pass from Pratt to Crutchfield, who finished with seven receptions for 72 yards.

On Bath’s ensuing drive, Connor Pratt intercepted Ian Armentrout and raced to the Wildcat six with just 23 seconds left until halftime. Three plays later, Damon McCracken kicked a 22-yard field goal to give the Cougars a 29-0 lead.

Much of the second half was played with a continuous clock, which was set in motion when Bath lost a fumble on the first play of the third quarter and Pratt connected with Laudick for a 33-yard touchdown one play later.

Backup quarterback Kahne Sullivan opened the fourth quarter with a seven yard touchdown pass to Carter Parlapiano, but Van Wert answered with a pair of scores – a 37-yard pass from Pratt to Laudick and a six yard pass from Carson Smith to Spencer Clay.

Laudick finished with four receptions for 85 yards and three scores.

“That’s awesome for him,” Recker said. “We moved him into the slot position and he’s so good at finding holes and he has the speed and the quickness to do that. I’m so happy for him on our last regular season game here at Eggerss to be able to get that.”

The Cougars drove inside the Bath five with under a minute left, but Smith took a knee to end the game.

Pratt finished 20-of-27 for 211 yards and three touchdowns plus 122 yards and a pair of scores on 14 carries. Nate Jackson added 38 yards on 12 carries and Van Wert finished with 432 yards of total offense, compared to just 94 yards for Bath.

“You never know what you’re going to get from Bath offensively,” Recker stated. “I’m really pleased with how we did against their running game.”

Van Wert will host an opening round playoff game on Friday night. It appears the Cougars will host Rossford but the official word on the opponent won’t come until Sunday afternoon.

“It’s exciting to get in the playoffs and to find out who you play and to start scouting.” Recker said. “Typically it’s a team we haven’t played yet, but we’ll find out and hopefully we can make a long run.”

Scoring summary

First quarter

VW – Aidan Pratt 5-yard pass to Trey Laudick (Damon McCracken kick)
VW – Aidan Pratt 13-yard run (Damon McCracken kick)
VW – Aidan Pratt 8-yard run (kick failed)

Second quarter

VW – Nate Jackson 6-yard run (kick failed)
VW – Damon McCracken 22-yard field goal

Third quarter

VW – Aidan Pratt 33-yard pass to Trey Laudick (Damon McCracken kick)

Fourth quarter

B – Kahne Sullivan 7-yard pass to Carter Parlapiano (Keaton Liles kick)
VW – Aidan Pratt 37-yard pass to Trey Laudick (Damon McCracken kick)
VW – Carson Smith 6-yard pass to Spencer Clay (Carson Smith to Luke Wessell pass)

POSTED: 10/22/21 at 11:38 pm. FILED UNDER: Sports