Game of the Week

Smithies sloppy at winless Waynedale

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The Smithville Smithies (6-3, 3-3) traveled to Apple Creek to take on the Waynedale Golden Bears (0-9, 0-6) in a Wayne County Athletic League match-up. In a sloppy game played by both teams, the Smithies captured the 21-2 victory.

The 2017 high school football season was one that brought different expectations for both schools.

Waynedale entered this season under a new but mostly familiar coaching regime as entrenched wrestling head coach Louie Stanley accepted the additional task of heading up a football program that had gone 51-54 since 2007. With the Bears coming off a 2016 campaign that saw them finish 1-9, there was plenty of room for improvement in 2017 but much work to be done to return the brown and gold to past glory. Coach Stanley had an immediate impact on the increased depth to the Bear’s roster this year, but he and his staff would need to be patient rebuilding their playbook and schemes with an inexperienced roster.

On the flip side, Smithville started the season with a more scaled-down roster than they are typically accustomed to having. Despite the lower participation, coach Brent Besancon’s Smithies were bringing back experience at their skill positions and were looking to shake up the league this season.

The ugly reality for both teams coming into this game is that Smithville was trying to halt a three-game losing skid, and Waynedale was hoping to earn their first win.

Waynedale had a nice opening drive to start the game with junior quarterback Derek Reber and senior running back Logan Stanley driving the Golden Bear offense all the way down to Smithville’s 5-yard line, but the Smithie defense dug in, and the Bears ended up turning the ball over on downs.

Smithville answered with a 95-yard drive of their own and were knocking on the door for the game’s first score when the opening quarter ended in a 0-0 tie.

The Smithies kicked in the door to get on the scoreboard shortly after the start to the second quarter when senior running back Trenton Mathew plunged into the end zone from 2 yards out (extra point kick by freshman Logan Smith was good). With 11:22 to go in the half, the green and white were up 7-0.

The Smithville defense forced the Bears into a three-and-out on their next possession, and after a holding call on the punt return, Smithville’s offense went back to work from their own 4-yard line. A combination of awful field position and Waynedale’s defensive pressure forced the Smithies into their own three-and-out, giving the ball back to the Golden Bears on Smithville’s 41-yard line with 7:19 remaining in the half.

Unfortunately the Bears squandered the good field position and coughed up the football with the Smithies recovering the fumble to begin their next offensive series from their own 38-yard line with 6:16 remaining in the half. The Smithies were looking to add some points before halftime, and sophomore quarterback Maison Martell did a nice job of directing a scoring drive that finished with Mathew’s second TD of the game when he walked in for six points from 1 yard out (extra point kick by freshman Logan Smith was good) with 3:03 left in the half.

Both teams went into halftime with the Smithies holding a 14-0 lead.

The second half began with Smithville fumbling the ball back to Waynedale at midfield on their very first possession to open the third quarter. The Golden Bears once again drove down the field and were looking to score when they gave the ball right back to the Smithies via a fumble in the red zone on Smithville’s own 8-yard line with 8:27 left in the quarter. With Smithville’s offense once again being backed up in awful field position, Waynedale’s Stanley shook a Smithie blocker and pounced on Mathew for a safety and Waynedale’s only scoring opportunity of the night. By the end of the third quarter, Smithville led 14-2.

Martell held onto the ball for a 1-yard quarterback keeper around the right side of the line, where he lowered his shoulder to reach pay dirt to open the fourth quarter and pushed Smithville’s lead to 21-2 with 11:17 remaining (extra point kick by freshman Logan Smith was good).

Once again the Golden Bear offense moved the ball down the field into the red zone and threatened to trim the lead, and once again the Smithie defense held their ground when it mattered most and forced Waynedale to turn the ball over on downs from the Smithie 13-yard line with 6:36 remaining.

Waynedale’s defense forced another Smithie fumble, and the Bear offense had another opportunity to make the game interesting from Smithville’s 30-yard line with 1:39 remaining, but Reber’s pass on fourth and long fell incomplete to seal the Smithie victory.

In a game marred by a combined 15 penalties and six fumbles, both teams will look to clean up a few things on offense heading into next week’s season finale. Despite the lopsided final score, the stat sheet didn’t show a whole lot of separation for either team.

Smithville was led by Mathew, who finished the game with 16 rushing attempts for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Martell completed 9-of-15 passing attempts for 108 yards in the air to go with his 1-yard rushing TD. Senior Cole Smith had five receptions for 59 yards. Smithville will finish their regular season in Jeromesville on Oct. 27 when they face Hillsdale (6-3, 3-3).

Waynedale was led by Stanley, who rushed 31 times for 154 yards in addition to his single reception for 36 yards and his excellent tackle for a loss that resulted in the Golden Bear’s safety for two points. Reber finished the game 5-of-16 passing for 75 yards. Waynedale will finish their regular season in Creston on Oct. 27 when they face Norwayne (8-1, 5-1).

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