SIDNEY — It’s been a season of marked improvement for Fort Loramie (11-1) after opening with a 20-point loss to archrival Minster.
Carson Moore has enjoyed watching Fort Loramie’s football team progress this season — including his younger brother Collin, who has thrown for 1,683 yards and run for 661 in his first season as the team’s starting quarterback.
“I shaped him into the quarterback he is today,” Moore joked after the team finished practicing at Sidney Memorial Stadium on Thursday.
Moore, a senior defensive back, has helped the Redskins’ defense shut down opponents as of late. Fort Loramie has shutout its last three opponents and has allowed 12 points in its last five games.
Collin Moore has helped the Redskins’ offense roll over opponents as of late. The Redskins have scored at least 35 points in their last eight games and have won with a running clock in their last seven.
The Redskins will find out Saturday if the improvement is enough to capture the program’s first regional championship.
Fort Loramie will play in its second regional final in program history on Saturday at Lima Spartan Stadium when it faces Convoy Crestview for the Division VII, Region 28 championship. The Knights beat defending Div. VII state champ Minster 28-14 in a semifinal last Saturday.
It’s the first regional final appearance since 2009 for Fort Loramie, which beat Lehman Catholic 35-0 in a semifinal.
“We’re all excited, pretty juiced up,” senior lineman Logan Siegel said. “We’ve got to just do what we’ve been doing all year. Stay confident, don’t let anything distract us and continue doing what we’ve been doing.”
Fort Loramie coach Spencer Wells said Crestview (11-1) will be the toughest opponent the team has faced.
“It’s really what you would expect in Week 13,” Wells said. “This time of the year, there’s some really good football teams that are left, and they’re one of them. We’re not going to underestimate them and know that there’s a lot of work that we need to put in this week in practice to be able to take care of business on Saturday. I think our guys have been practicing really well.”
Crestview racked up 324 yards of offense and held the Wildcats to 199 in last Saturday’s victory. The Knights, which lost by three points to Minster in a regional semifinal last year, averaged 386.2 yards and 44.1 points per game in regular season.
Senior quarterback Drew Kline passed for 1,274 yards and 15 touchdowns in regular season and led the team with 961 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. Brody Brecht rushed for 735 yards and 12 touchdowns, while Wade Sheets led the team receiving-wise with 31 receptions for 574 yards and seven touchdowns.
“They’ve got a lot of good athletes, but we’ve just got to stay confident and have everyone do their role,” Siegel said. “We’re going to have to bring our ‘A’ game against them, but I don’t think it’s anything we can’t handle. If everyone is confident and goes in and does their jobs and their roles, I think we’ll put up a good fight.”
The Knights allowed an average of 230.8 yards and 20.9 points per game in regular season. Sheets had four interceptions in regular season, while Kline had three. Kline also picked off two passes against Minster last Saturday.
“Defensively, they’ve really been playing their best football (lately),” Wells said. “We’re going to have to really be on our game and execute at a high level.”
The Redskins have been executing at a high level on offense for most of the season.
Aside from Collin Moore’s monster numbers, several others have shown big playmaking abilities. Junior running back Nick Brandewie, senior running back Carter Mescher and sophomore running back Max Hoying all have between 524 and 549 rushing yards and a combined 23 rushing touchdowns. Moore leads the squad with 13 rushing TDs.
Mescher has a team-high 529 receiving yards on 33 catches with six receiving touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Mark Seger has caught 18 passes for 405 yards and five touchdowns, while senior Mason Kemper has caught 31 passes for 391 yards with five TDs.
“I think a lot of people don’t shed a lot of light on how many athletes we have,” Carson Moore said. “I think a lot of people on our offense can make plays, and I think we’ve been successful all year just focusing on us. We’re going to just focus on us throughout the rest of the postseason.”
Hoying, who was named the D-VII Southwest district defensive player of the year on Thursday, leads the team with 66 tackles and has nine tackles for loss to his credit. Carson Moore is second on the team with 40 tackles and has forced two fumbles.
Wells said he’s confident with the defense’s ability — including on two-point conversions, which the corps will likely see after any Crestview touchdowns.
“They go for two, and for us, you never know if that can be the difference in the game,” Wells said. “If we can get a couple of stuffs on two-point conversions and make our extra points, that could make a difference.
“It’s one of those games with two very good teams where all those little things could make a big difference. …We tell our guys that we don’t expect them to be perfect. (Crestview) is going to make plays, and when they do, we just have to win the next play.”
The Redskins have been consistent in making PATs thanks in part to Beltran Dorado Lafarga, a transfer student from Spain.
Lafarga has quickly transferred his soccer kicking kills to the gridiron. He’s made 63-of-67 extra points this season and 3-of-5 field goals, including one from over 30 yards. He’s also averaged 45.1 yards per kickoff in 23 tries.
“He’s been doing a great job,” said Wells, who was named the D-VII Southwest district coach of the year. “It’s interesting, because he’s never really had experience kicking a football. He figured it out really quick, and he’s a guy we rely on and have a lot of confidence in.”
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.