For any coach trying to rebuild a program, there is often a marquee win that helps to stream roll the process and turn things in the right direction.
Last season, Woodmore may have notched that important win against Eastwood, defeating the Eagles, 27-20, in Week 9, giving the Wildcats hope for the future and the belief that they may have finally turned the corner.
Britton Devier took over as coach at Woodmore in 2010 and, since then, has seen steady progress. He's hoping that this is the year his club turns that corner and establishes itself among the league's elite teams.
Last season, the Wildcats improved their win total by two games and have begun this season 2-0. On top of that, they've won impressively, defeating Port Clinton (55-7) and Cardinal Stritch Catholic (56-6).
But now is where things get interesting. Woodmore, which faced Tiffin Calvert, a 2012 playoff team, last Friday, travels to Pemberville to face an Eastwood club that will likely compete for a Northern Buckeye Conference title. In two games thus far, the Eagles have defeated powerhouse Patrick Henry (40-21) and lost a heartbreaker to another top Northwest Ohio program, Clyde (17-13). In Week 3, Eastwood hosted Oak Harbor, another quality program.
Despite going 5-5 last year, the Eagles, led by 32nd-year coach Jerry Rutherford, now one of Northwest Ohio's best-known names in prep football, are poised to bounce back and compete for a league title and a spot in the playoffs. Four of their five losses in 2012 were by close margins, an indication that if things go their way this year, they could be looking at an eight to nine win season.
Devier knows that defense is where his team will really have to perform if they want to win.
“I've heard Eastwood is running some spread concepts this year,” Devier said. “They always have speed and it's tough to stop an offense that has so many weapons.”
Eastwood is where the Wildcats want to be — at or near the top of the conference and in contention for the playoffs every year.
Defeating the Eagles could do wonders for Woodmore's program, but Eastwood is certainly not ready to back down from their place near the top of the league.
The Eagles, who operate the Wing-T offense, have thrown the ball more than usual this season. In their win against the Patriots, senior quarterback Jake Schmeltz connected on 6-of-10 passes for 108 yards and three touchdowns. Against the Fliers, Schmeltz threw for 88 yards and a touchdown.
The primary running backs for Eastwood are juniors Devin Snowden and Brennan Seifert and senior Brent Schlumbohm. Junior Grant Geiser has seen some action, scoring on a 27-yard touchdown run in the opener.
Schmeltz, a three-year starter who plays cornerback on defense, says the Eagles will not take the Wildcats lightly.
“(Woodmore) is a good team and has a good quarterback and some nice skill players,” Schmeltz said. “They run their offense well. Offensively, we need to execute and know what we're doing blocking-wise. Defensively, we need to keep playing hard and swarming to the ball and make plays.”
The Wildcats, who have scored 111 points in two games, are led by quarterback Jake Matwiejczyk, a two-year starter. In the opener against PC, he completed 15-of-23 passes for 247 yards, spreading the ball around to receivers like Dan Sprinski, Malachi Brown and Evan Ulinski. On top of that, Matwiejczyk ran 16 times for 122 yards. Running back Tony Rozzi helped to complement the passing attack, running for 101 yards on 17 carries.
Devier says Woodmore has to take that next step now.
“Anytime you play a good team, it's an opportunity to show your best,” he said. “With Genoa and Eastwood in our conference, we, along with the other schools, have been forced to get better or get beat up on.”
He loves the way his team's spread offense is getting the job done without relying exclusively on their passing attack.
“We have been committed to running the ball effectively this year,” Devier said. “However, we rely heavily on our screen and quick game to move the ball. As for balance, we run whatever works. If that means we throw 50 times, we do that.”