Van Wert senior Nate Place, seated with parents Rob and Shelly, Thursday as Place signed to be a Cougar at the University of St. Francis (IN). (DHI Media/ Reid Maus)
Van Wert senior Nate Place, seated with parents Rob and Shelly, Thursday as Place signed to be a Cougar at the University of St. Francis (IN). (DHI Media/ Reid Maus)
VAN WERT — Thursday saw two instrumental pieces of the Van Wert Cougars playoff run team commit to back-to-back National Champions, the University of St. Francis (IN). Van Wert’s quarterback of the past couple of seasons, Nate Place along with defensive-end Joey Schauffelberger signed to continue to be Cougars next year.

Place is the son of Rob and Shelly place. Place was selected as the Western Buckeye League’s offensive back of the year, as well as being elected to the division four All-Northwest District 1st team and D-IV 3rd team All-Ohio. Place led the WBL in rushing and scoring this past fall. He ran for 1,591 yards and 27 touchdowns while also throwing for 1,751 yards and 13 touchdowns.

“When I went on my visit they made a big first impression,” said Place on USF. “I walked in and every coach knew who I was. I really felt like I was wanted there. I love the coaching staff, they showed me the X’s and O’s and showed me the campus— I just fell in love the first visit.”

Place was also pursued by Taylor University and University of Findlay. The latter being in the NCAA D-II, the former being USF’s conference, the Crossroads. Place said that he liked those schools as well, but St. Francis stood out.

Place, has been recruited as an athlete, so his role on the team next fall is still in the air.

“Right now, I’m just listed as an athlete,” said the Van Wert senior. “[St. Francis] is not really sure where they’re going to put me. Slot receiver or safety, probably, where ever I can get on the field first.”

Joey Schaufelberger is the son of Matt and Julie Schaufelberger. He was selected for the All-WBL 2nd team defense as well as All-Northwest District 2nd team. Schaufelberger led the team with 70 tackles, six tackles for less and seven sacks in 2018.

“When I decided to play at the next level, St. Francis was a first choice for me,” said Schaufelberger on his decision. “I went on a game day visit and the atmosphere was great and the campus was awesome. I went back for a an official [visit] and the coaches were great. They were really friendly, they took me in and it really felt like home.”

The Cougar’s defensive end was also pursued by Findlay, amongst other schools.

As Schaufelberger’s role next fall, he will play defensive end and possibly long snapper.

“As of now I’m going to be working my tail off to get a roster spot,” said Schaufelberger.

The Cougars are apart of the NAIA, a collegiate athletic association not affiliated with the NCAA, and won the 2016 and 2017 National Championships. In 2018 the Cougars lost to Morningside College in the National Semi-finals.