When Anna (1-1) hosts St. Henry (1-1) on Friday night in high school football, the two clubs can look across Booster Field and virtually see themselves on the other sideline.
The two Midwest Athletic Conference schools boasted easy season opening wins and then, in similar ways, lost touch with their opponents in the final 18 minutes of game two. It’s an understatement to say that neither club played mistake-free football after halftime.
A shanked punt, a fumbled punt on the receiving end, two lengthy opponent scores on third and fourth down plays, and a nearly 100-yard interception return by the opposition turned the tide last Friday.
Anna was drubbed by Brookville, 46-14, after trailing, 14-7, in the third period. St. Henry was thumped at Archbold, 34-10, after cutting the winner’s bulge to 14-10 in the second half.
Both Anna and St. Henry were forced to throw the football more than they would prefer last Friday. Each team features a first-year quarterback: sophomore Alex Shappie for Anna and junior Curtis Puthoff for St Henry.
Shappie has tossed four touchdown strikes and put the ball in the air 74 times already, in just two games.
You can bet that eight-year head coach Nick Marino of Anna and ten-year head coach Brad Luthman of St. Henry expect better finishes and more complete performances tonight.
You can also expect this game to be very close. It usually is!
In the last nine meetings, only two touchdowns separate the clubs in head-to-head competition. Since coach Marino was introduced at Anna, Coach Luthman holds a slim 4-3 edge. St. Henry has won the last two.
Anna’s last victory over St. Henry came in 2019, 48-7, when the Rockets breezed to the Division VI state championship.
By the way, five Anna-St. Henry battles in recent seasons have been decided by one score or less. Since 2016, the schools have played three overtimes on the gridiron.
Anna running back Landynn Fogt has rushed for 156 yards and wide receiver Noah Aufderhaar has totaled 154 yards in catches.
Justin Richards is averaging 41 yards in six punts for Anna. Defensive end Hayden Huelskamp leads the team with a dozen tackles.
Puthoff has amassed 193 yards through the air for St. Henry. Harrison Wendel has been on the receiving end for about half this total. Wendel has also run for 106 yards, as has Chase Litmer. Dustin Quinter, a 6-5 offensive and defensive lineman, anchors the Redskins two fronts.
The Rockets are in the southwest region of Division VI with Versailles and Marion Local. St. Henry is in the southwest region of D-VII with Fort Loramie, New Bremen and Mechanicsburg.
Anna does not play MAC foe New Bremen this year. St. Henry misses Delphos St. John’s.
ScoresBroadcast.com and WMVR, Hits 105.5 FM, carry Friday’s contest. The pregame segment starts at 6:25 PM.