By Rob Kiser
The Piqua football team has the opportunity to accomplish a lot in two weeks when it travels to Troy.
But, Piqua coach Bill Nees and his squad know to give themselves that opportunity, they have to take care of business Friday night at Tippecanoe against a gritty Red Devil squad.
While Tipp comes into the game 4-4 and 1-2 in GWOC North play, Piqua is 5-3 and 2-1 — coming off a Thursday Night Lights win over Vandalia-Butler.
And when the Red Devils offense is on the field, the focus will squarely be on senior running back Cole Barhorst (5-8, 184).
Barhorst has rushed for 958 yards and nine touchdowns on 157 carries, while junior Josh Burrett (6-1, 191) has 740 yards and eight TDs on 108 carries.
“He (Cole Barhorst) is an outstanding football player,” Nees said. “And his offensive line does a great job creating angles for him. So hopefully, we will be ready for that.”
Junior quarterback Brad Detwiller (5-11, 182) has completed nine of 26 passes for 203 yards, with two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Senior Clay Barhorst (5-8, 172) leads the receivers with six catches for 106 yards.
“They don’t (throw it that often),” Nees said. “But, when they do, it is always when you have too many people up (on the line) or too many people going east and west. So, we have to be aware of that.”
Barhorst also had a 90-yard TD on a kickoff return for a touchdown against Sidney and had over 300 yards from the line of scrimmage in Tipp’s 49-42 loss two weeks ago.
“He can also hurt you on special teams,” Nees said. “That return against Sidney kept them in the game.”
The Red Devils will feature a 50 defense, led by the GWOC’s fifth leading tackler in senior linebacker Matt Garber (6-0, 205) who has 77 tackles.
“It is pretty much a straight 50,” Nees said. “But, they do individual things out of it. They may rush three and drop eight, rush four and drop seven or rush five and drop six. So, hopefully, Austin (Piqua quarterback Austin Davis) can recognize that and make the right read.”
Davis (5-11, 200) is having a remarkable season at quarterback for the Indians.
Not only is he fourth in the GWOC with 1,527 yards passing by completeing 99 of 160 passes, he has an amazing plus-20 TD to interception ratio, having 23 TDs and just three interceptions.
“Austin (Davis) has really done a great job,” Nees said. “The coaches did a great job preparing him for the season and he has done a nice job reading and being aware of things the defense is doing.”
It doesn’t hurt to have the GWOC’s leading receiver Hayden Schrubb (6-3, 182, senior), who is rewriting the Piqua record books.
Schrubb is expected to break the Piqua single season and career receiving records Friday night and has 46 receptions for 805 yards and 14 TDs. He is coming off a four TD game against Vandalia-Butler.
Senior Cale Meckstroth (6-1, 187) has 22 catches for 357 yards to compliment Schrubb.
“Hayden (Schrubb) has had a phenomenal season,” Nees said. “But, we feel like if Tipp double teams him, we have other guys who can step up. One of the reasons Austin (Davis) has such a great completion percentage is our receivers do a great job of catching the ball. We haven’t had a lot of drops.”
Senior Ben Schmiesing (6-2, 197) is coming off his first 100-yard game of the season and has rushed for 515 yards and nine TDs on 86 carries, while senior Devon Brown (5-11, 186) has 370 yards and five TDs on 80 carries.
“Hopefully, with our running game (and passing game), we can keep them honest on defense,” Nees said.
The offensive line has also been a big part of the success.
“Austin (Davis) likes to throw from the pocket — he is not going to throw a lot on the run,” Nees said. “I think our offensive line compliments him well. Because, they have good size and have been able to protect him and allowed him to throw from the pocket.”
Piqua’s defense came up with some big stops in the fourth quarter Thursday night as the Indians rallied for a 33-27 win.
Brown broke up a pass in the end zone to end one drive and Schmiesing finished off the win by stripping a Vandalia receiver and ending up with the ball.
Schmieisng leads the defense with 75 tackles, while junior linebacker Micah Karn (5-11, 172) has two forced fumbles and two interceptions. Freshman Lance Reaves (6-0, 227) has two sacks.
“In this day and age, with the spreading the field and way offenses operate, you are going to give up yardage,” Nees said. “Our defense is fast and I think we do a great job of running to the ball.”
And with two weeks remaining in the regular season, both sides of the ball have put Piqua in position to still accomplish a lot.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.