Football Notebook: Defending State Champions Off to Winning Starts

(Photo by David Pence)
By: 
Brian Smith
Staff Writer

The Minster and Marion Local football programs entered the 2018 season with that target on their backs of being the defending state champions. Not that it's a something both programs haven't dealt with — Marion Local 10 times and Minster twice in the past five years. Both went on the road and earned double-digit wins against good opponents last Friday night.

Minster:  Minster debuted some new pieces on the offensive side of the ball, using a strong running game and big-play offense to knock off rival Fort Loramie 34-14 in Redskin head coach Spencer Wells' debut.

Minster gained six yards per carry in the running game, piling up 197 yards on the ground, including a 31-yard touchdown run by Alex Schmitmeyer late to put the game away, a steady ground attack that set up some big plays for touchdowns throughout the game. Jacob Niemeyer, a 6-foot-1 junior making his first start, at quarterback was in control throughout. Niemeyer completed 9 of-12 passes for 185 yards and three touchdowns to go with an interception. His 57-yard touchdown connection with big 6-foot-6 senior tight end Cody Frericks set the tone midway through the first quarter. Trent Roetgerman, who led Minster with 59 yards receiving for the game, caught a 41-yard touchdown pass from Niemeyer midway through the second quarter to extend the lead to 14-0 after Bryan Falk booted through his second straight extra point. Minster appeared to be running away with the season opener when Schmitmeyer rushed in from seven yards out to make it 20-0 with 2:58 left in the first half. Schmitmeyer finished the game with 109 yards rushing to go with the two scores.

Minster controlled the second half, however. Minster took the second-half kickoff and marched down the field for a score despite bad field position to start the drive. Niemeyer led Minster on an 89-yard touchdown drive. August Boehnlein caught a four-yard touchdown pass to cap the impressive 8-play, 89-yard drive and give Minster a 27-7 lead Minster closed it out with a another grinding drive in the fourth quarter. Schmitmeyer scored his second touchdown of the game with that 31-yard jaunt to the end zone that made it 34-14.

The Wildcat offense piled up 382 total yards of offense and excelled on converting first downs by going 6-of-10 on third-down conversions and 2-for-2 on fourth down conversions.

The Minster defense forced Fort Loramie punts on the Redskins’ first four offensive drives of the game and then Joe Winner intercepted a pass and returned it 25 yards to set up Minster’s third touchdown of the game in the second quarter. Mike Ketner led Minster with eight tackles. Winner, Jack Heitbrink and Frericks each had tackles for loss. Noah Enneking broke up two passes from his spot in the secondary.

Marion Local: The Marion Local football team traveled across Ohio’s western border and showed another out-of-state state power just how tough taking on the Flyers can be.  The Flyers, who have played and beaten teams from Michigan and California over the past decade — along with a bevy of Ohio teams en route to 10 state championships over the years — added a win over a Hoosier state team that was a state runner-up last year. Marion Local’s 42-0 win over Woodlan made it 28 straight wins for the program. Marion Local is set for another big season after capturing the Division VI state championship last fall. A big part of that will be a defense that allowed just four first downs  and held Woodlan to a combined 0-for-15 on third and fourth down conversions for the game. Brandon Fleck led Marion Local with 5.5 tackles. Dylan Heitkamp had three tackles for loss. Tanner Ungruhn added two tackles for loss. Nathan Bruns, a 6-foot-5 senior quarterback, was efficient in going 10-of-15 for 148 yards and a touchdown, helped by the rushing attack of Nolan Habodasz, who ran for 63 yards and two scores on 16 carries.

New Bremen: New Bremen was in a fight with Benjamin Logan, clinging to a one point lead deep into the fourth quarter before scoring two touchdowns in a two and a half minute whirlwind that assured the Cardinals of another season-opening victory. New Bremen won its fifth straight non-conference game with a 27-12 win at Benjamin Logan. The Cardinals moved to 1-0 on the season for the third straight year. Now they’ll look to get to 2-0 when they host the Blackhawks of Mississinawa Valley on Friday.