By Rob Kiser
If ever a football team had to deal with adversity, it was was the Piqua football team last Friday night.
Both Michigan State commit Darien Tipps-Clemons, the GWOC North Offensive Player of the Year a year ago and Derek Hite, one of the leading pass rushers in the GWOC, tore ACLs in the first half of a 38-6 loss to Trotwood-Madison and will be lost for the season.
“It isn’t like the NFL where it is next man up and you just plug the next guy in,” Piqua football coach Bill Nees said. “We spend a lot of time with these kids and now them, so it is tough. The kids are close to each other. That leaves a big void in leadership and they were key players for us offensive, defensively and special teams — everything we do.”
At the same time, Nees expects the Indians to respond when they travel to Franklin Friday to take on the 2-0 Wildcats.
“There are some big voids to fill and other players are going to have to step up,” Nees said. “We had a good practice on Monday. We went over the films again and got things figured out.”
The Wildcats are coming off wins over Carlisle and Edgewood and will show a lot of of different looks out of the spread formation.
“Numbers 22 (Ryan Montgomery) and 24 (Bailee Moore) line up in some different places,” Nees said. “They run some Wildcat (with Montgomery).”
The 5-11, 185-pound junior is a dual threat. He has rushed for 160 yards on 26 carries with three touchdowns, while completing nine of 12 passes out of the Wildcat for 166 yards with a TD and an interception.
Moore, a 6-foot, 200-pound senior, has rushed for 158 yards on 23 carries and two touchdowns, while junior quarterback Braden White (6-3, 205) has completed 14 of 20 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns.
Senior receiver Noah Kremer (6-4, 185) has five catches for 113 yards, while Montgomery has four catches for 67 yards and junior Austin Gilbert (5-10, 145) has four catches for 57 yards. Senior tight end Gavin Etter (6-3, 210) has three catches for 57 yards.
Kremer was injured last week and his availability for this week is unknown.
“The run a spread with tight ends,” Nees said. “It is typical of what you will see on a Saturday night college game. You will see some jet sweeps and some Wildcat. They have a good sized offensive line. They do a good job.”
Defensively, the Wildcats play an even front.
Junior linebacker Ryan Knepper (5-10, 200) leads the team with four sacks, while Etter and sophomore linebacker Matt Centers (6-0, 185) have two sack each. Kremer has the team’s only interception.
“They have given up a couple scores, but they are pretty solid on defense,” Nees said.
Nees felt the Trotwood score was a little deceiving.
It was 10-6 late in the first half when the clock seemed to get stuck on one second, giving Trotwood time for one more play to make it 17-6 at the break.
“It was very close to being 10-6 at halftime,” Nees said. “The game was exactly what we thought it would be. Both teams had opportunities to make plays.”
Piqua’s score in the game came on a 54-yard pass from junior quarterback Austin Davis (5-11, 200) to junior Ben Schmiesing (6-2, 197).
Davis has completed 11 of 24 passes this season for 183 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions.
Schmiesing has three catches for 91 yards, while junior Hayden Schrubb (6-2, 163) has three catches for 69 yards.
Senior Allen Schrubb (6-1, 237) is the leading rusher with 167 yards on 17 carries.
Defensively, Schmiesing leads the team with 15 tackles and a pick six.
Senior Dylan Cole (6-1, 196) has 15 tackles, while senior Hunter Hawk (5-10, 158) had eight tackles and two interceptions.
Senior Tristen Cox (6-4, 308) has seven tackles.
Now, the Indians will look to bounce back from a night of adversity.
“It is a big game,” Nees said. “We need to bounce back.”
And show what they are made of.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.