The St. Henry Redskins (2-8) won’t have to look far for a great game plan in preparation for the Fort Loramie Redskins (8-2) Friday night, as Halloween weekend kicks off.
Lima Central Catholic provided a blueprint that glowed in the dark one week ago, and frightened the Fort Loramie faithful. And it could be summed up on the cover page in three short words: Run. Run. Run.
You see, LCC featured a triple-headed monster on the ground — quarterback Carson Parker, tailback Gabe Cira, and quick receiver Matthew Quatman, who zipped from sideline to sideline on several reverses.
Fort Loramie wasn’t tricked. It knew what was coming. But the treat was LCC’s relentless rushing attack, behind five giants on the offensive line in over-stuffed red, white and blue costumes.
In the end, however, the local team haunted the visitors with a prolific passing game. LCC’s secondary searched all night long for receivers, but, like ghosts, they vanished, and then showed up 10 or 15 yards away, running free after clutching tosses from quarterback Caleb Maurer.
Fort Loramie also ran the ball well enough and got a few critical defensive stops to prevail by a point, after never leading for 47 1/2 minutes. A howling, pre-Halloween wind may have caused the LCC coaches to fear a game-winning field goal try would mysteriously go awry in the contest’s very final second.
Now, it’s St. Henry’s turn to run with the blueprint. ScoresBroadcast.com and Hits 105.5 will carry tonight’s game live. SCORES online coverage starts at 6:25 p.m. The radio station will simulcast. The victorious team meets the Southeastern-Cincinnati College Prep winner on Oct. 28.
Like LCC last Friday, the Redskins from the Midwest Athletic Conference won’t have to alter much this evening. Behind five yards per pop and nearly 150 yards on the night from sturdy and shifty running back Harrison Wendel, St. Henry edged Fort Recovery a week ago, 22-21, and is brimming with confidence.
Don’t let St. Henry’s two measly triumphs fool you. This club played Versailles and Coldwater close and tough deep into the third quarter. It trailed Archbold by less than a touchdown after 30 minutes. A snap over the SH punter’s head at Anna and a successful onside kick by the home team swung that game.
St. Henry will try to park Fort Loramie’s vaunted pass attack on the bench. Versus Fort Recovery, SH chewed up a grand total of 19 minutes during touchdown journeys of 80, 69 and 85 yards. The FR quarterback, Cale Rammel, had a splendid night pitching the ball for 316 yards, but was not on the field enough.
Redskins sophomore quarterback Eli Boering, who didn’t start the season at this position, completed two-thirds of his passes against FR. He connected with Wendel on a 44-yard bomb.
Steady Nolan Kunkler punted four times for 154 yards. Wendel paced the defense with nine tackles, including two for sacks and two more for lost yardage. Junior Kellen Hoying is a standout two-way performer.
And St. Henry’s Dustin Quinter — a 6-foot-6, 330 pound offensive and defensive lineman — is the foundation up front on both sides of the ball.
Brad Luthman, a former all-Ohio lineman who played on the 2003 D-V state title team at Versailles, is the 10-year head coach at St. Henry. The legendary Al Hetrick was Luthman’s mentor. Luthman later completed an assistant coaching stint with Tim Goodwin at Marion Local.
In 2005, Fort Loramie head coach Spencer Wells performed on the gridiron at Delphos St. John’s which won the D-VI state championship. Wells played for highly regarded Todd Schulte, DSJ’s current coach. Wells, too, experienced a coaching stop with Goodwin at ML, as well as assistant roles at other schools including Wapakoneta.
So, you see, these two young head coaches have been elbows deep in programs rich with tradition. Neither will miss a thing in tonight’s initial playoff game. Each has had success sharing his knowledge and coaching up players all over the field.
Fort Loramie will spread its receivers all over the field versus SH. Quarterback Maurer will also share the ball. Against LCC, Logan Eilerman speared eleven, and Max Maurer and Christian McGee each snared four. Ty Kemper cradled the game-winner. Back Will Holland piled up big chunks picking off screens.
Holland, Darren Eilerman, and QB Maurer kept LCC honest by sprinkling in key rushes from scrimmage.
Calvin Hoying and Nate Boerger continued to lead the charge with assists and solos on defense. Boerger’s lengthy kick-off return well into LCC territory set up Caleb and company for the short-field, game-winning throws toward the end zone.
A drive that included one successful pass after another.
Which followed one successful run after another — the other direction.
On Friday, St. Henry hopes to change places with LCC and be in it to win it — in the fourth quarter. Fort Loramie wants to score early and often, and force SH out of its element.
Remember, it’s that “one and done” time of the year.
Last October on Halloween weekend in Ohio, eerie and almost supernatural things happened. A No. 14 led a No. 3 after three quarters. A No. 15 played a No. 2 even until the final minutes.
And guess what? A No. 16, Milan Edison, shocked a No. 1, Bellevue, in the final seconds and pulled off the improbable by a score of 23-22!
But, not so fast, says game forecaster Drew Pasteur, chairman of math and computational sciences at the College of Wooster. On his ‘Big Board,’ “The Fantastic 50” website, he gives Fort Loramie the nod by 24 points tonight. And, obviously, that is very far outside the margin for error.
You know, however, that St. Henry has a fresh and different outlook now, and is “unbeaten” having won its play-in tournament tilt a week ago. Both bands of Redskins snatched victories from the jaws of defeat, taking crazy one-pointers on Oct. 21.
Spectators left Fort Loramie’s bleachers shaking their heads while mouthing words like “incredible,” “terrific,” “fabulous,” and “one of the best high school football games I’ve ever seen.”
Jack Kramer of ScoresBroadcast.com said he had run out of adjectives describing the remarkable performances by both teams and finally told the listeners that they “will simply have to watch it to believe it.”
Another one tonight right on Halloween weekend that matches the two thrillers a week ago would be scary.
How about… “spook-tacular.”