The Big Board says it’s too close to call. The polls remain open for less than an hour — 48 minutes to be exact— on Saturday evening.
Fort Loramie has scored 98 points in two Division VII football playoff games. Minster has totaled 95. The Redskins have allowed 47; Minster, 43.
Even? You bet. The run-off is Saturday night. And we’re not making this stuff up.
And keep in mind, the 39-27 victory by Fort Loramie over Minster in the season opener way back on Aug. 19 was a five-point game with half the fourth quarter remaining.
For sure, Saturday’s Redskins-Wildcats clash will produce at least six or seven touchdowns and maybe as many as 60 points or more. The Sidney Memorial Stadium scoreboard might even have to work overtime, following a four-quarter, 48-minute deadlock.
Sixteen schools have survived through the first two rounds of the statewide D-VII tournament. And two of perhaps the top several clubs in Ohio, which are also archrivals only a few miles apart, must collide this evening in a southwest region semi-final at 7 p.m.
ScoresBroadcast.com and Hits 105.5 FM will be on the air at 6:25. Both head coaches — Spencer Wells of Fort Loramie and Seth Whiting of Minster — will be featured in separate six-minute interviews in the pregame segment.
At stake is a berth in the regional final next Saturday versus the New Bremen-Ansonia winner at a site to be determined.
Weather might be a factor on the gridiron on Saturday night, which will be a 30-degree and rather windy evening with some snowflakes possible. After offering a gorgeous fall filled with one comfortable Friday after another, the weatherman is extending a chilly welcome to Minster and Fort Loramie on Saturday.
The two clubs are red hot, though, playing their finest football of the 2022 campaign. They will brush the conditions aside. Members of both teams agreed at their practices this week that the hits they dish out on this cold football night “will sting even more.” Fort Loramie is 10-2 and a winner of eight straight. Minster is 8-4 and has streaked to seven wins in its last nine.
Pollsters around the state are clearly undecided and might have better luck with their hedges by tossing coins or engaging in a game of ‘rock, paper, scissors.’ One radio sportscaster in the Lima area said “the team with the ball last in the fourth quarter likely pulls it out.”
Drew Pasteur, who forecasts high school football outcomes on his Fantastic 50 website, gives Minster a scant one-point edge. A journalist at Cleveland.com predicts Fort Loramie to drop a 28-26 thriller. A west central Ohio online medium forecasts the Redskins by a touchdown. And a Cincinnati.com sports reporter handicaps the contest noting that Minster is a very slight underdog by “no more than a point or two.”
You can explore the quarterback position of both teams to determine why, in large part, the game figures to be super close and may hinge on perhaps a single play. Caleb Maurer of Fort Loramie has thrown for 3043 yards and rushed for 389. Brogan Stephey of Minster has thrown for 2359 and rushed for 1021.
Incredibly, this pair of very talented QB’s is locked up in nearly a statistical dead heat. Maurer has totaled 3432 yards; Stephey, 3380. Saturday, a few more yards, or votes, if you’re still thinking about the Big Board, may trigger victory.
And, again, we’re not making this stuff up.
Each one is highly capable of making a huge play anywhere on the field with their arms and legs.
The two quarterbacks’ passing attacks are assisted by terrific sets of receivers. Fort Loramie’s Logan Eilerman has snatched 98 of Maurer’s throws for 1,405 yards. Christian McGee has snared passes for 498 yards, and has returned kicks for another 457. Eilerman is 6-foot-4; McGee, 6-3. They often make catches look easy by outleaping defensive backs who many times appear, at first, to be in far better position to break up forward passes or even produce interceptions.
For Minster, Stephey often locates wideouts James Niemeyer, a first-team Midwest Athletic Conference performer, or the fleet Devan Wuebker. The two have combined to reel in 88 Stephey tosses.
By design, Stephey, a gifted runner, has tucked the ball away 178 times and scooted ahead on the ground at nearly five yards per clip. Maurer, too, can sprint through and around opponents and has done so more often as the season has progressed.
Additions to the offenses in the last several weeks have been Connor Schmiesing, now a major contributor to the Wildcats rushing attack and Maxwell Maurer, Caleb’s brother, who is featured frequently as a serious pass catching threat for the Redskins.
Keep an eye out for skilled athletes everywhere on Saturday. Both Fort Loramie and Minster are loaded with playmakers.
So, count on a lot of points.
Yet, the defense that stifles the opposing offense and forces a couple quick punts may, in the end, decide the contest.
In considering the outcome of this game Saturday, the statisticians will make Point One: Do not forget turnovers. Minster has created a total of 20 takeaways. However, Point Two: Fort Loramie has recorded eight interceptions in the last two games.
Point Three: Minster played a rugged MAC schedule that included the following teams still alive: Marion Local, Versailles, and Coldwater. But, here’s Point Four: Fort Loramie’s tough independent slate spanned the likes of Newark Catholic, Lima Central Catholic, Lucas and Versailles—all of which are playing this weekend, too.
The high-scoring series is 13-6 in favor of Minster, which has never lost to Fort Loramie in the playoffs. Although, the Redskins have won the last two regular season meetings.
Imagine all the points you want.
One thing for certain… The winner Saturday night will have to make a whole bunch of them.