Wayne Trace’s Jake Dingus outruns a Paulding defender during the Raiders’ win last week. The Raiders look to stay unbeaten with a win at Otsego on Friday. (DHI Media/Tina Eley)
Wayne Trace’s Jake Dingus outruns a Paulding defender during the Raiders’ win last week. The Raiders look to stay unbeaten with a win at Otsego on Friday. (DHI Media/Tina Eley)
By Kevin Wannemacher
DHI Media Correspondent
TONTOGANY – Conference championship hopes will not be on the line Friday night in Tontogany, but that does not mean that the matchup between Wayne Trace and Otsego is not important in the big scheme of things.
Potential playoff points will be at a premium for both squads when the Raiders visit the Knights in the sixth matchup of the two schools.
After picking up its first win over Otsego last year in a 65-0 route, Wayne Trace and head coach Bill Speller knows that the Knights will look to make things a little different in 2014. To do that, Otsego will count on senior running back Donald Hardison for a chunk of the offense. Hardison is coming off an opening night performance that included 158 yards on 22 carries with two touchdown runs.

“They want to run the football,” Speller noted. “They are very experienced up front and they will run primarily a wing-t offense. Hardison is a very good running back and they will try to control the clock by running the football with a heavy dose of him.”
The Knights do have back some key linemen from last year, including senior Lance Roehl (5-8, 180), senior Dameon Nigh (6-1, 293) and junior Trevor Toney (5-10, 186).
“Our offensive line should be a strength for us and they did a good job in week one, especially in the first half,” commented Knight head coach Matt Dzierwa. “Most of our line is back from last year on both sides of the ball so we do expect them to be our leaders up front.”
In its opener, Otsego dropped a 22-20 decision to Evergreen as the Vikings scored as time expired to tie the contest at 20-20 before adding the two-point conversion for the victory. Sophomore Colton Battin is the Otsego quarterback. Battin completed both pass attempts last week for 45 yards.
“He is a sophomore so he is still learning the offense,” Dzierwa continued. “He did a good job of managing the game last week and we just need to see improvement in that every week. We want to continue to develop him as a passer and open up some of the offense as we go along.”
Last Friday, the Wayne Trace defense limited Paulding to 63 yards on the ground and 74 yards of total offense. Speller knows the Raiders must stop the run again in week two to be successful.
“Controlling their running game is crucial for us,” added the Raider head coach. “We have to execute our game plan and keep them from being able to put long drives together.”
“The big key for us offensively is to keep their offense off of the field,” Dzierwa stated. “They are very explosive and they have a good quarterback in (Tyler) Showalter so we have to be able to put first downs together and keep the clock moving.”
Wayne Trace’s offense is coming off a night where the Raiders totaled 452 yards of offense, racking up 237 on the ground and 215 via the air.
Quarterback Tyler Showalter led the way for the Raiders by completing 16 of 24 passes for 206 yards while also running for 217 yards on 15 carries. Showalter also scored six rushing touchdowns and threw for two more.
“They graduated a lot of kids last year but they still have a lot of athletes,” commented the Knight coach. “We have to do a good job of containing them and then tackling them on the first try. We must limit the number of missed tackles.”
“I think the big thing for our offense is to just keep improving,” Speller stated. “This was our first week of practice where we have been able to run as one group. The opportunity to build a little chemistry and continuity is crucial and it should help us find some consistency as well.”