By Kevin Wannemacher
DHI Media Correspondent
HAVILAND – One team is coming off a state-runner-up finish. The other is coming off a 2-win season, having lost their last five games by a combined margin of 157-46.
On Friday night, though, both teams hope to answer some key questions heading into the 2014 season, with county bragging rights on the line as well, when Paulding visits Raider Field to take on Wayne Trace.
Wayne Trace enters the game trying to replace 11 seniors from a team that won 13 games and finished as the state runners-up after losing to Kirtland in the state championship. Seven of those seniors helped lead an offense that averaged over 48 points per game, including quarterback Colby Speice and running back Jared Sherry. Wide receivers Korbin Showalter and Jake Gerber are also gone after graduating.
However, head coach Bill Speller comes into the campaign believing Wayne Trace is reloading rather than rebuilding.

“We feel we can be very competitive this year,” commented the Raider mentor. “We’ve still got athletes and these kids know what needs to be done.”
Senior Jake Dingus takes over as the Raider signal caller after being a wide receiver last season. While Dingus does bring speed and the ability to make plays running the ball, a lack of experience is a concern for Wayne Trace.
The top returning wide receiver is senior Tyler Showalter, who comes back after 24 receptions and four touchdowns last season. The red-white-and-blue will also look to junior Cole Shepherd and senior David Sinn to make plays.
In the backfield, senior Daron Showalter takes over for Sherry. Another big question mark for Wayne Trace comes up front, where the loss of four seniors on the offensive line could be an issue.
Defensively, Speller feels Wayne Trace will be very solid. Eight starters come back from a squad that posted three shutouts and gave up only 15 points a game last season. Wayne Trace brings back its top tackler in Tyler Showalter (129 tackles, including 13 for losses).
Meanwhile, Paulding enters its second season under the direction of head coach Kyle Coleman.
Paulding’s offensive line should be much improved, with seniors Dakota Valdez, Bailey Combs, Isaac Ludwig and Lorenzo Salinas all returning.
The backfield also has experience in senior running backs Adam Deatrick and Kyle Gardner, along with sophomore Preston Ingol. Defensively, the maroon-and-white brings back junior Corbin Edwards while Valdez, Combs, Ludwig and Salinas are all expected to see time up front.
With both teams having to replace quarterbacks, it may come down to which defense is able to create turnovers or get good field position for their offense.
Special teams also could be a big factor. Wayne Trace returns punter Nick Glass to the roster, which could give the hosts an advantage.
In a rivalry game, normally the team who makes the least amount of mistakes is the team that is able to come out on top. This year’s contest appears to follow that story line, with both teams looking to provide answers early in the season to some key questions.