By Rob Kiser
Piqua football coach Bill Nees knows in the football playoff era exactly what all the talk is about this week as 5-0 Sidney prepares to come and visit 3-2 Piqua Friday night at Alexander Stadium/Purk Field.
While Nees isn’t going to look at any game this early in the season as “must win”, he understands the thought process.
Piqua is sitting in 19th-place in the D-III, Region computer standings and a win over the Jackets would dramatically change that position.
“It is the opening game in the GWOC North,” Nees said. “And it is week six. But, it (the importance of the game) is obviously the elephant in the room, so you might as well acknowledge it.”
And it is a matchup of two-high powered offenses.
Sidney has the leading rusher in the GWOC in Isaiah Bowser.
The 6-foot-1, 205 pound senior has rushed for 1,448 yard and 16 touchdowns already.
Junior Andre Gordon (6-1, 180) is a dual threat at the quarterback position.
He has passed for 627 yards, completing 28 of 53 with seven TDs and one interception.
Junior Ratez Roberts (6-2, 174) is a big play receiver, with nine catches for 214 yards, while Bowser has eight catches for 235 yards.
“They have a lot of weapons on offense,” Nees said. “They have an outstanding running back who leads the GWOC in rushing, a really good quarterback and a go-to receiver. And their offensive line has played well. They also have a defensive lineman that they use as a h-back that gives a power element to their offense.”
The Jackets are second in the GWOC in offense, averaging 42 points a game, while allowing 24 points a game.
Piqua also has some good numbers, averaging 32.6 points, while allowing 19 points per game.
“I don’t know that our numbers are quite as guady as Sidney’s,” Nees said. “But, we have some really solid players on offense.”
Senior quarterback Austin Davis has completed 62 of 102 passes for 951 yards, with 13 touchdowns and two interceptions.
Senior Hayden Schrubb (6-3, 182) has 25 catches for 424 yards and seven TDs, while senior Cale Meckstroth (6-1, 187) has 17 catches for 284 yards.
Seniors Ben Schmiesing (6-2, 222) and Devon Brown (5-11, 186) lead the rushing attack.
Schmiesing has 50 carries for 283 yards and five touchdowns, while Brown has 44 carries for 197 yards and four touchdowns.
The offense picked things up in last week’s 36-20 win over Xenia in the second half.
“In the first half, our offense was average,” Nees said. “In the second half, they were outstanding.”
While both defenses, have given up some points, they can make plays as well.
For Sidney, sophomore linebacker Ryan Cagle (6-0, 168) leads the way with 45 tackles and 2.5 sacks.
“They will play a 4-3 and sometimes go to a 4-2-5,” Nees said. “They use a 4-deep look, but sometimes will drop back into a 3-deep look.”
Schmiesing and junior Mick Karn (5-11, 172) lead the Piqua defense from the linebacker positions.
Schmiesing has 40 tackles, while Karn has 38, to go with two forced fumbles and two interceptions.
“A lot of times in games like these where everybody looks at the two offenses, it can come down to getting stops on defense or plays on special teams.”
While Piqua leads the series 77-38-6, Sidney’s last win two years ago came on a field goal.
“It can come down to a play like that on special teams,” Nees said. “Or a fake punt or field goal.”
And no matter the records, this is always a big week.
The “Battered Helmet” is on the line, as well as one-point in the Piqua-Sidney All-Sports competition.
“We are fortunate to have two rivalries,” Nees said. “And Sidney is one of them, so this is a big game.”
Which is made just a little bigger by the “Elephant in the Room”.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.