Wayne Trace junior Tyler Showalter looks for running room in an early-season game at Raider Field. The Raiders travel to North Robinson to battle Colonel Crawford in playoff action on Friday night. (Times Bulletin file photo)
By Kevin Wannemacher
Times Bulletin Business Manager
HAVILAND - Wayne Trace will be a part of the OHSAA football playoffs for the second time in school history on Friday as the Raiders make the long trip to North Robinson to battle Colonel Crawford.
The Eagles, like Wayne Trace, finished the year with a 9-1 (6-1 North Central Conference) record while currently riding a six-game winning streak to close the regular season. Colonel Crawford claimed a share of the conference championship with Galion (9-1, 6-1 NCC). It is the first team at Colonel Crawford to post nine wins in a season in 26 years.
Colonel Crawford, under the direction of sixth-year head coach Ryan Teglovic, is in the postseason for the second straight season. The Eagles were 8-2 last season in the regular season before falling to Glouster Trimble 41-6 in the first round of the playoffs.
Teglovic is 35-26 as a head coach at Colonel Crawford, posting five consecutive non-losing seasons after a 2-8 record in his opening campaign.
Teglovic also serves as the defensive coordinator for the Eagles, which gave up 17.1 points per game this year. Colonel Crawford has three victories against teams from Division IV or V, with their lone loss being at Division IV Galion where they fell 35-14 in week four.
The Eagles went 3-1 against teams with winning records, posting victories over Upper Sandusky (28-27), Bucyrus Wynford (20-14) and New London (33-26). Other wins were over Mount Gilead (30-13), Northmor (52-13), Buckeye Central (38-13), Bucyrus (20-10), Riverdale (59-14) and Crestline (58-6).
Colonel Crawford is 5-0 at home this season, averaging 35.8 points per game while allowing 14.4 points per night.
The rest of the Eagles coaching staff is highlighted by its longevity and continuity. Ty Stevenson is in his sixth season as the Eagles' offensive coordinator, helping Colonel Crawford to put up over 35 points per game.
Former Eagle head coach Mike Cauley, who led the Eagles for 16 seasons, is the defensive tackle coach and in his 36th season as a football coach overall. The offensive line coaches are Scott Armose (14th season) and Steve Rittenour (tenth season) with Brett DeGray, a 1994 graduate of Colonel Crawford, handling the special teams. Preston Foy is in his fifth season as the wide receivers coach.
Senior quarterback Nate Klingenberger (6-4, 205) is 105 of 176 through the air on the season for 1,577 yards with 14 touchdowns and five interceptions on the season. Senior wide receiver Nick Adams (5-11, 165) leads the Eagles with 37 receptions for 523 yards and seven scores.Defensively, senior linebacker Ashton Van Meter (6-2, 195) leads Colonel Crawford with over 100 tackles on the season while junior linebacker Kameron Landin (6-0, 185) has posted over 90 stops on the season.
Sophomore defensive back Owen Adams (6-0, 150) tops the Eagles with four interceptions on the year.
Klingenberger and junior running back Eli Reffey (6-1, 190) each have scored ten or more touchdowns
Wayne Trace head coach Bill Speller feels the Raiders are ready for the long road trip and for the Eagles.
"We have had a very good week of practice," noted Speller. "Tuesday's practice was probably one of our best this season. We are just happy to be in the playoffs and have an opportunity to show what we can do."
Colonel Crawford comes into the game averaging over 185 rushing yards a night while also recording 168 passing yards per game. The Eagles ranked fourth in the NCC with just over 353 total yards of offense per game.
"They run kind of a spread offense with a wing-t mix," Speller commented. "They like to run off tackle out of it, pulling both tackles to run either the quarterback or the fullback. They will throw it some but they want to put together long drives and grind it out. They don't appear to be a big play team."
Reffey and Klingenberger are each around the 600-yard mark on the ground for the season.
Colonel Crawford's defense gives up 182 rushing yards and 105 passing yards per contest. Overall, the Eagles finished fifth in the league defensively, allowing 288 yards a night.
"Defensively, they run a 4-3 set with a cover two out of it," added Speller. "But, we also are expecting some sort of special defense against us like we have seen recently. We don't know what to expect there for sure but we will just have to make adjustments on the fly."
"It should be a fun atmosphere," concluded the Raider head coach. "We will have a good crowd there and I am sure they will have a great following as well. We are looking forward to the opportunity and hopefully we can take advantage of what they give us."