Woodmore football coach Britton Devier is trying to build a winning program in Elmore. By the looks of things, he appears to be on his way.
The Wildcats showed marked improvement in 2012, seeing as the team went from to 2-8 in 2011 to 4-6 overall and 2-5 in the Northern Buckeye Conference this season with marquee victories over Tiffin Calvert (17-7) and Eastwood (27-20). Calvert advanced to the Division VI regional semifinals this season and Eastwood, one of the area's best programs, was 5-0 in league play and tied for first in the NBC before falling to Woodmore.
|Jake Matwiejczyk. (Press photo by
The Wildcats, who run the spread offense, were led by junior quarterback Jake Matwiejczyk (Ma-twie-zak). Matwiejczyk, faced with the task of replacing three-year starter Jon Sandwisch, had a magnificent season, accounting for 3,022 total yards of offense. He completed 190-of-347 (54.8 percent) passes for 2112 yards, 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and rushed 185 times for 910 yards (4.9 per carry) and 11 touchdowns.
One of Matwiejczyk's strengths was his ability to spread the ball around to a multitude of receivers, a trait the helped to keep the defense off-balance all year long. His leading receivers were Zach Brossia (53 rec., 652 yds., 7 TD), Evan Ulinski (43 rec., 534 yds., 9 TD) and Coleton Bihn (35 rec., 401 yds., 2 TD), a potent trio that ranked among the area's best. Tony Rozzi (23 rec., 167 yds., 3 TD) and Dan Sprinski (19 rec., 143 yds.) helped to complement the passing attack as well, giving Matwiejczyk five legitimate targets in an offense that regularly featured four- and five-wide receiver sets.
Matwiejczyk spoke highly of his teammates.
“My receivers barely dropped any balls all year,” he said. “They're fantastic, they were incredibly reliable. No matter what down, I could always trust that they'd catch it.”
But as with any offense, the foundation starts with the men up front doing the blocking, and that unit, which consisted of starters Jake Rothert, Danny Munoz, Erich Greulich, Henry Flores and Dylan Young and John Morris and Collin Sandrock serving as substitutes, did a fine job of protecting Matwiejczyk all season.
“My O-line gave me all the time in the world,” Matwiejczyk said. “I had perfect blocking on my runs and great pass blocking which allowed me to go through my reads and make a good pass. I like (the spread offense) a lot (because) it opens up plenty of lanes to run. It's a fun offense to play in.”
Bihn, who will graduate in the spring knowing that he helped to rebuild the program, spoke of playing with Matwiejczyk in a pass-happy offense.
“It's really fun (running the spread offense),” he said. “You don't know when you'll get the ball – you could get it on any play. We play fast-paced and we race up to the line (on each play). It's a lot more fun than running the ball up the middle. (Jake) set four school records this year. He never played varsity before, and stepping in for Jon, who was a good quarterback, (Jake) brought more of a running game to our offense. Jon was more of a pocket passer.”
Bihn also spoke of the camp the team attended at Bluffton University last summer and how it helped to build unity within the group.
“I think it definitely brought us together as a team more,” he said. “We had 6 a.m. conditioning and then we'd run at midnight and we didn't have cell phones. It made us grow — it was probably a big part of our season, going out to the university (and) staying there for three to four days. That unified us.”
The possible turning point for the program came in Week 9 when the Wildcats outlasted Eastwood.
With the game tied at 20, Matwiejczyk connected with Ulinski on an 8-yard touchdown with 1:27 remaining to take the final lead and ensure the program's marquee victory under Devier's tenure. Matwiejczyk had a stellar performance, completing 20-of-30 passes for 235 yards and ran 16 times for 127 yards, accounting for all four touchdowns. Bihn had six receptions for 124 yards and caught a 63-yard pass on Woodmore's final drive to set up the winning score.
“It was the highlight of the season,” Matwiejczyk said. “To win on Senior Night against a great team like Eastwood was just awesome. I can't even explain how big of a win that was.”
Bihn spoke on the victory.
“Eastwood was probably our biggest win of the year – that was probably Jake's best game,” Bihn said. “I think that was the biggest win we've had since Coach Devier was here. (Eastwood) was undefeated in league play until they played us. We hadn't beaten them in about eight to nine years. We just came out, it was Senior Night, we tackled well, and we made plays. The defense kept us in the game and the offense won it in the end.”
Bihn talked about the job Devier, who just completed his third season at the helm, has done in helping to steer the program in the right direction since arriving in Elmore.
“(Coach Devier) is big with the weight room,” Bihn said. “That was his No. 1 focus when he came in. He says he wants us to develop well as a football team, but more importantly, as individual people and in the classroom.”