The Van Wert County Courthouse

Thursday, Sep. 16, 2021

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports editor

Friday night will mark the halfway point of the high school football regular season and once again some interesting games are on tap, including a pair of games that will almost certainly have a direct impact on the Northwest Conference championship race. 

It’s been an exciting season with close games, shootouts and some mild upsets along the way and it appears that trend will continue throughout the regular season. 

Last week I went 15-4. One game, Edgerton at Ayersville was canceled so that game doesn’t count in the standings. My overall season record is 80-22 or 78.4 percent, still just shy of the 80 percent goal. This week, 20 games are on the area schedule. 

Games of the Week

Allen East (3-1) at Columbus Grove (4-0)

It’s an important NWC game between the three time defending champion Bulldogs and Allen East, a team considered to be a contender for the conference title. 

Columbus Grove has allowed seven points or less in three of four games while Allen East has scored 30 or more in three games, so something has to give. 

In the end, I think Columbus Grove’s defense and running game will be too much for the Mustangs and besides – it’s tough to pick against the defending champs at home.

The pick: Columbus Grove

Leipsic (2-2) at Spencerville (2-2)

Another important NWC game.

Ignore the 2-2 records, these two teams are good. Spencerville’s losses came to Division III Elida and state-ranked Lima Central Catholic, while Leipsic lost to Liberty-Benton and Tinora. 

In my mind, the big question is if Spencerville will attempt a pass during the game. The Bearcats didn’t during last week’s win over Bluffton. 

While I think the Vikings are more than capable winning the game and making a big splash in their first year in the NWC, I’m not betting against Spencerville at home. 

The pick: Spencerville 

Wapakoneta (2-2) at Shawnee (4-0)

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POSTED: 09/16/21 at 3:57 am. FILED UNDER: Sports

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports editor

It’s quite an honor but it’s also another motivator for opposing teams.

Defending Division IV state champion Van Wert is ranked No. 1 in this week’s Associated Press Ohio High School football poll and now the Cougars are set to take that top ranking into this week’s game at St. Marys Memorial.

“I’d much rather be ranked first than last,” Van Wert head coach Keith Recker said with a smile. “The ranking shows much respect for our players and what they have done on the field. At the same time, all of our coaches and players understand that we don’t want this to be the highlight of our season. We need to continue to be better each day.”

Van Wert’s Trey Laudick is a triple threat on offense, defense and special teams. Against Wapakoenta, Laudick returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. Photo courtesy of Jerry Mason

Van Wert (4-0, 3-0 WBL) is coming off a wild 55-45 win over Wapakoneta. Trey Laudick and Garett Gunter were two key contributors in that game, with Laudick taking the opening kickoff back 97 yards for a touchdown, then providing a key tackle on first and goal in the fourth quarter while Gunter caught a pair of touchdown passes, including a 73-yarder that gave the Cougars a 49-42 lead.

“Trey is such a big part of our team and doesn’t always get the recognition he deserves,” Recker said. “He is on offense, defense, and special teams and does a great job of making plays. He can cover the run or pass on defense, make tackles and big returns on special teams, and he is a great blocker for us on the perimeter on offense.”

“Garett is having a very nice start to the season. He has shown a willingness to make blocks on the perimeter while also showing the athleticism to make big plays in the pass game. We thrive off making big plays and we have to have guys with the ability to do so, and Garett has shown he has big play capability.”

The Cougars enter Week No. 5 averaging 50.5 points and 527 yards per game, including 317 passing and 210 rushing. Aidan Pratt has completed 81 of 98 passes (82.6 percent) for 1,233 yards, 15 touchdowns and no interceptions, with Connor Pratt (19-354, three touchdowns), Maddix Crutchfield (28-342, two touchdowns) and Garett Gunter (11-273, five touchdowns) serving as the top three receivers.

Pratt is the team’s leading rusher with 41 carries for 377 yards and six touchdowns, while Nate Jackson has 38 carries for 230 yards and two scores. Brylen Parker has emerged as a reliable back as well with 18 carries for 123 yards and six touchdowns.

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POSTED: 09/14/21 at 9:05 pm. FILED UNDER: Sports

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports editor

CONVOY — Friday night will mark the halfway point of the 2021 high school football season and the Crestview Knights will try to do something they haven’t had to do yet this year – shake off a loss.

The Knights fell to 3-1 (0-1 NWC) with Friday’s 42-14 loss to Allen East and now, Crestview will host a much-improved Delphos Jefferson team.

Rontae Jackson and the rest of Crestview’s defense will try to contain Delphos Jefferson dual threat quarterback Colin Bailey on Friday. Bob Barnes/file photo

“The loss at Allen East was difficult in a number of ways for our team last Friday evening,” head coach James Lautzenheiser said. “We had some opportunities to close the game to within one score at the half and also begin the second half with a scoring drive, but failed to finish the job when those opportunities were within reach.”

“Our defense significantly improved as the game moved forward into the second half but our players have to be ready to execute the game plan out of the gates. We will continue to focus on the little things in practice this week, but we are stressing this week’s game as an opportunity to respond and bounce back. We have the players on hand to help us get back on track this week against Delphos.”

The Knights enter game averaging 28.8 points and 337.8 yards per game (189.5 rushing, 148.3 passing). Quarterback JJ Ward is tops among all NWC passers with 585 yards through the air (35-of-54), six touchdowns and two interceptions and Rontae Jackson is the conference leader in receiving yards with 354 on nine catches, plus three touchdowns. Hunter Rothgeb has snared six passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns, while Ayden Lichtensteiger has nine receptions for 109 yards and a score.

Nick Helt continues to lead the Crestview ground game with 49 carries for 226 yards and four touchdowns, followed by Donovan Wreath (16-151) and Ward (23-120, three touchdowns).

“Crestview has a big, physical offensive line,” Delphos Jefferson head coach Ben Rahrig said. “They like to run the ball and their offensive line does a good job of moving people. Their running back, Nick Helt, does a good job of finding holes and cutting across the pursuit when needed and their fullback, Donovan Wreath, is a solid runner and is difficult to bring down, which makes the option game hard to stop.”

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POSTED: 09/14/21 at 8:55 pm. FILED UNDER: Sports

Lincolnview senior volleyball player Kendall Bollenbacher hit the 1,000 kill mark during Tuesday’s NWC opener against Ada. Bollenbacher recorded 17 kills during the match and Lincolnview swept Ada 25-8, 25-7, 25-6. Bollenbacher, flanked by parents Ryanne and Steve Bollenbacher, also had 11 digs and a pair of aces. Ashlyn Price and Breck Evans had 16 and 13 assists and Evans had five aces. The Lancers (7-1, 1-0 NWC) will host Leipsic (10-0, 1-0 NWC) in a key conference matchup on Thursday. Photo submitted

POSTED: 09/14/21 at 8:54 pm. FILED UNDER: Sports

Van Wert independent sports

Volleyball

Van Wert 3 Delphos St. John’s 0

Finley Foster, who surpassed 1,000 career assists on Monday added 26 more during Tuesday’s 25-12, 26-24, 25-14 victory over Delphos St. John’s.

Carlee Young finished with 20 digs and Maria Bagley added 25, while Mariana Ickes and Kayla Krites each had 10 kills. Ickes added three aces and Jordanne Blythe had three blocks in the win.

Van Wert (3-6) will host St. Marys Memorial on Thursday.

Leipsic 3 Crestview 1

LEIPSIC — In the NWC opener for both teams, Leipsic topped Crestview 25-21, 25-21, 22-25, 25-19.

Cali Gregory had 34 assists, 10 digs and was 19-of-23 serving with six aces. Myia Etzler led Crestview with 14 kills and Addy Figley and Laci McCoy each had 10. Ellie Klined finished with 17 digs. Brynn Putman was 10-10 from the service line and Josie Kulwicki was 12-of-13.

The Lady Knights (4-4, 0-1 NWC) will hit the road again for the third time this week and will face Spencerville on Thursday.

Soccer

Crestview 6 Ada 2

CONVOY — Crestview started slow but rallied from a 1-0 deficit by scoring five unanswered goals on the way to a 6-2 win over Ada on Tuesday.

Addison Williman scored three goals, Katelyn Castle added two and Adessa Alvarez added a goal on a penalty kick and had an assist. Hope Loyer logged an assist and Emily Karcher finished with eight saves.

The Lady Knights (4-2, 1-1 NWC) will host Fort Jennings on Thursday.

Van Wert vs. Wapakoneta

Tuesday’s WBL boys’ soccer match between Van Wert and Wapakoneta was canceled due to low numbers on the Cougar squad.

POSTED: 09/14/21 at 8:53 pm. FILED UNDER: Sports

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports editor

This week’s edition of Random Thoughts includes No. 1 ranked football teams, an unusual mascot name, wild high school football games, Ohio State and Urban Meyer.

No. 1

The first Associated Press Ohio High School football poll of the season came out on Monday and defending state champion Van Wert is ranked No. 1 in Division IV.

I was certain the Cougars would be ranked in the top 10 and probably the top 5, but I wasn’t sure if they would be ranked No. 1. Van Wert received nine of 20 first place votes and has a somewhat comfortable lead over No. 2 Cincinnati Wyoming, the team the Cougars defeated in the state semifinals last year.

Rounding out the top 10: Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph, Bloom-Carroll, Beloit West Branch, Eaton, Cincinnati McNicholas, Waverly, Youngstown Ursuline and Clinton-Massie.

No surprise here – the MAC has a pair of No. 1 ranked teams: defending Division VI state champion Coldwater and Marion Local in Division VII.

Two Lima teams are ranked: Shawnee is No. 12 in Division III and Lima Central Catholic is No. 12 in Division VII.

Unusual name

Liberty-Benton had to scramble to find a new football opponent last weekend after North Baltimore canceled because of COVID-19 issues.

The Eagles found a team from Pennsylvania willing to make the drive to Hancock County – a team with one of the more unusual mascot names: the Williamsport Millionaires.

Liberty-Benton defeated the Millionaires 35-14.

Edon

Like Liberty-Benton, Edon had to scramble to find a new opponent after Friday’s game with Northwood was canceled because of COVID.

The Bombers made the long trek to Norwalk to face traditional Division VII power St. Paul and Edon led 44-35 with less than six minutes left.

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POSTED: 09/14/21 at 3:59 am. FILED UNDER: Sports

Lincolnview’s Jared Kessler (8) runs away from a defender running Monday’s Northwest Conference match against Allen East. Kessler provided an assist that allowed Reece Berryman to score and Corbin Evans added a goal with an assist from Austin Bockrath, and the Lancers earned a 2-0 win over the Mustangs. Lincolnview will host Ada on Monday. Photo courtesy of Hanna Young

POSTED: 09/14/21 at 3:58 am. FILED UNDER: Sports

Van Wert independent sports

Midwest Athletic Conference teams completed a sweep of Van Wert County teams in volleyball action on Monday. Below is a recap of each match.

Coldwater 3 Van Wert 0

Coldwater posted a 25-16, 25-16, 25-15 win over Van Wert at Van Wert High School on Monday.

Maria Bagley had a team-high 11 digs for the Lady Cougars, Carlee Young had seven and Sydnee Savage and Marianna Ickes each had six. Finley Foster had 12 assists and Kayla Krites and Savage finished with six and five kills respectively.

Van Wert (2-6) will host Delphos St. John’s tonight.

Parkway 3 Crestview 0

ROCKFORD — Parkway’s aggressive attack was too much for Crestview as the Panthers posted a 25-17, 25-19, 25-21 win on Monday.

Cali Gregory had 10 assists, Ellie Kline finished with eight digs and Myia Etzler had five kills. Etzler finished 12-of-13 from the service line with a pair of aces.

Crestview (4-3) will open Northwest Conference play at Leipsic tonight.

New Bremen 3 Lincolnview 0

NEW BREMEN — 2020 Division IV runner-up New Bremen had no trouble with Lincolnview on Monday, winning 25-7, 25-14, 25-17.

It was the first loss of the season for Lincolnview (6-1) while New Bremen improved to 8-0.

Break Evans had 12 assists while Kendall Bollenbacher finished with 11 kills and six digs.

Lincolnview will host Ada tonight.

POSTED: 09/14/21 at 3:58 am. FILED UNDER: Sports

Van Wert independent sports

Tennis

Van Wert 4 Elida 1

The Lady Cougars improved to 4-4 in the Western Buckeye League with a 4-1 win over visiting Elida on Monday.

At first singles, Grace Lott enjoyed a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Ava Long, while Natalie Benner defeated Kenzie Savill 6-2, 6-1 at second singles. Mandy Burenga topped Taylor Guth 6-1, 6-3 at third singles and the first doubles team of Piper Pierce and Livvi Quillen recorded a 6-4, 6-4 win over Eden Troyer and Hali Khork.

Elida’s second doubles team of Alayna Mack and Valory Ta won a hard fought match, defeating Zoe Coleman and Ashlynn Jennings 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4.

The WBL regular season finale will be played Thursday at Kenton.

Golf

Lincolnview 169 Crestview 187 Delphos Jefferson 190

DELPHOS — Avery Slusher shot a career best 38 and Lincolnview improved to 10-1 in the NWC with a 169-190 win over Delphos Jefferson at the Delphos Country Club on Monday.

Landon Price fired a 43 and Grant Glossett, Evan Miller and Dane Ebel each carded a 44 for the Lancers.

Meanwhile, Crestview enjoyed a three-stroke victory over Jefferson, 187-190. Evan Scarlett led the Knights with a 43, followed by Trey Skelton (46), Will Sharpe (49) and Brady Petrie (50).

Lincolnview and Crestview will return to the links Thursday at Hickory Sticks.

Soccer

Wapakoneta 8 Van Wert 0

WAPAKONETA — Van Wert fell to Wapakoneta 8-0 on Monday, dropping the Lady Cougars to 0-6 (0-3 WBL).

Van Wert will host St. Marys Memorial on Thursday.

POSTED: 09/14/21 at 3:57 am. FILED UNDER: Sports

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports editor

This week’s Monday Mailbag features questions about COVID-19 and the current high school football season, Wapakoneta’s game plan, Van Wert’s past vs. present, and complaints about Ohio State’s defense and head coach Ryan Day.

Q: Is the high school football season in danger of being canceled? It seems like more and more games are getting canceled each week. Name withheld upon request

A: With COVID-19 numbers on the rise, I suspect games will continue to be canceled but I don’t believe the season itself will come to a halt.

Last week, nearly 50 high school football games in Ohio were canceled due to COVID-19. Many of the non-COVID affected teams quickly scheduled each other for games but still, that’s a significant number of games.

So far, the only area games wiped out have been Lima Sr. vs. Mansfield in Week No. 2 and Edgerton vs. Ayersville last Friday. The Spartans missed a game while Edgerton hastily scheduled Cardinal Stritch as a replacement and lost 32-30.

Let’s not fool ourselves – teams even closer to home may very well miss a game or two or at the very least, they may find themselves scrambling to schedule a new last-minute opponent.

Q: It seems like Wapakoneta had Van Wert’s number on Friday night. I know the Cougars won the game but the Redskins rolled up a lot of yards and points. Was that a blueprint for other teams to follow? Name withheld upon request

A: I’m sure future opponents will watch game video but trying to replicate what Wapakoneta did is another matter. How many teams have a quarterback like Wapak’s Braedan Goulet? He was the main factor in his team’s offensive success on Friday.

With St. Marys Memorial and Ottawa-Glandorf on tap, I believe the Cougars will make the necessary adjustments, even though those teams have different types of quarterbacks.

Q: I’m curious. How do you think last year’s or this year’s Van Wert football team would stack up against Van Wert’s great teams of yesteryear? Name withheld upon request

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POSTED: 09/13/21 at 3:54 am. FILED UNDER: Sports