Branson, Smelser headline six Cougars honored by WBL
Patterson, Braun, Smith and Thomas also recognized
Thursday, November 14, 2013 7:02 PM
By John Parent
Van Wert senior Terrence Branson averaged over 19 yards per reception for the Cougars this season, earning him a place on the all-WBL second team offense. (Times Bulletin file photo)
Times Bulletin Sports Editor
VAN WERT - While the Kenton Wildcats once again laid claim to the Western Buckeye League title, he Wapakoneta Redskins joined them as post-season qualifiers after a 9-1 regular season. Though the two teams could play more drastically different styles, both teams were well-represented when the all-conference rosters were revealed.
Wapak placed five players on the first team offense, including four of the five offensive line positions and running back Zach Schmerge. The Redskins, who rarely throw the ball, averaged 299.8 yards rushing per game and a league-best 5.3 yards per carry this season. They wound up second in the league in total offense behind only Kenton, despite throwing just 80 passes all season long.
On some nights, Kenton's Grant Sherman probably throws close to that many himself.
The senior signal caller for the Wildcats was named first-team all-WBL with an astounding 4062 yards passing this season and 46 touchdowns versus just 11 interceptions. Despite attempting over 45 passes per game, Sherman also completed nearly 66 percent of his throws on the year.
As you might expect, receivers Kollin Stollar and Justin Sawmiller both earned first-team selections after being on the opposite end of so many of Sherman's throws. Sawmiller, in fact, has done this so well and for so long that he set a national high school record for most career receptions this season.
Even with the huge numbers, it was Schmerge, not Sherman, who was voted Offensive Back of the Year by WBL coaches.
Schmerge also earned a first-team nod at linebacker, joining teammate Isaac Kirby. It was Kenton's Noah Furbush, who earned Defensive Lineman of the Year honors with his outstanding senior season, and Matt Bahr, named Defensive Back of the Year, that headlined the first team, both from Kenton.The Van Wert Cougars placed two players on the second team, with seniors Terrence Branson and Michael Smelser earning the honors.
Branson, who broke his leg in the season's final game, wound up fourth in the WBL with 816 receiving yards and third in the league with 12 touchdown catches. Branson was an all-purpose weapon for the Cougars, adding 317 rushing yards and 184 return yards on the year and a total of 14 touchdowns.
While Branson was recognized as a receiver, his teammate earned the nod as a defensive back, where he led the Cougars with 123 tackles, third-most in the WBL.
Like Branson, Smelser starred on both sides of the ball for the Cougars and even was used as the team's primary punter. Smelser ended the year fifth in the league in all-purpose yardage per game, just behind Branson, Sawmiller, Schmerge and Keaton Metz - Wapak's wing back who was named second team all-WBL as well.
Branson added four interceptions to his resume, the third-highest total in the conference.
The Cougars had four other players receive honorable mentions for their outstanding seasons in 2013. Sophomore quarterback Colin Smith joined Celina's Caleb Hoyng as the only quarterbacks on the honorable mention list. Smith improved throughout the season and accounted for more than 2000 yards of total offense this season while throwing for 16 touchdowns and running for three more.
Seniors Daniel Patterson, Zack Thomas and Jacob Braun also earned honorable mentions. Patterson for his work on Van Wert's offensive line, Thomas as a defensive tackle and Braun for his play on the line on both sides of the ball.
For the season, Braun collected 34 tackles, including a team-high seven tackles for loss. Braun also led the Cougars with three quarterback sacks. Thomas boasted 63 tackles on the year with six of those coming behind the line of scrimmage. He added one sack and two fumbles recovered. In his limited time on the defensive side, Patterson made nine stops and forced a fumble for Van Wert.