By Rob Kiser
There is already plenty at stake Friday night when the Tippecanoe football team visits Alexander Stadium/Purk Field to play Piqua.
Both teams come in 6-2 and are battling to try and secure a playoff berth in Division III, Region 12.
Piqua is 3-0 in the GWOC American North and Tipp is 2-1.
But if Piqua needed any extra motivation, you can be sure the Indians haven’t forgotten last season’s 37-12 loss to the Red Devils in the playoffs.
I don’t think that (motivation) is exactly the word I would use,” Piqua football coach Bill Nees said. “Everybody who was part of that game is aware of it and we have watched the films and hopefully it was a learning experience for us.”
The Tippecanoe wing-T offense is centered around junior running back Cole Barhorst (5-8, 174).
The speedster is one of the top rushers in the GWOC with 124 carries for 899 yards and 10 touchdowns and he has also caught seven passes for 53 yards.
“That is generally how it works with that position (fullback) in the wing-T,” Nees said. “The other carries are divided evenly between the other backs.”
Senior Quentin Williams (5-11, 158) is Tipp’s leading receiver with 11 catches for 182 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing 24 times for 423 yards and three TDs.
Senior Nyles Anderson (6-2, 189) has 70 carries for 442 yards and three TDs, while catching six passes for 90 yards and two TDs.
Senior quarterback Aaron Hughes (6-0, 163) has completed 30 of 49 passes for 392 yards, with five touchdowns and three interceptions.
“They don’t throw the ball a lot, but they pick their spots well,” Nees said. “It is usually when you are expecting run. They have completed 67 percent of their passes.”
Senior Cade Rogers (5-8, 159) leads the defense with 98 tackles, along with one forced fumble, three fumble recoveries and one interception.
Junior linbebacker Matt Garber (6-0, 205) has 78 tackles and five sacks, senior linebacker Austin Subler (6-0, 192) has 79 tackles and three sacks and sophomore defensive end Josh Walland (6-1, 175) has four sacks.
“They play a 50 defense, but they will go to a shade look a lot,” Nees said. “They are not shy about blitzing. They rotate a lot of defensive lineman in. In that shade, the inside linebackers is generally where (the blitz) is coming from.”
Junior quarterback Austin Davis 95-11, 200) directs the Piqua offense and has completed 49 of 87 passes for 710 yards with five touchdowns and just one interception.
Senior Allen Schrubb (6-1, 237) leads the rushing attack with 856 yards and 17 touchdowns on 117 carries, while junior running back Ben Schmiesing (6-2, 197) has 101 carries for 511 yards and six touchdowns.
Junior Hayden Schrubb (6-2, 163) leads the receivers with 21 catches for 368 yards and three touchdowns, while Schmiesing has 13 catches for 226 yards and three touchdowns.
“I think we continued to show good balance against Vandalia,” Nees said.
Senior safety Dylan Cole (6-1, 196) leads the defense with 69 tackles, while Schmiesing has 52 tackles and four interceptions and senior cornerback Hunter Hawk (5-10, 158) has three interceptions.
The Indians kept Butler out of the end zone with the exception of a few big plays.
“That is the best set of receivers we have faced in a long time,” Nees said. “Other than a few plays after we had the game under control, I thought we did a good job.”
The Indians dominated on special teams, pinning Butler back on punts, not allowing any returns, and getting the ball on the one-yard line when the Butler’s punter touched the ground with his knee.
“We definitely won the battle on special teams,” Nees said. “The punter putting his knee on the ground was the same as a turnover.”
As far as league and playoff implications Friday, Nees says that has not come up.
“To be honest, we haven’t even talked about that,” Nees said. “We are only thinking about one thing and that is Tippecanoe. That is where our focus is. Being the one that gets to 7-2 Friday night — after that maybe we can look at some of those other things.”
And have put last year’s playoff loss behind them.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.