Will upload pictures when they become available, thank you.
Will upload pictures when they become available, thank you.

VAN WERT — It was the first playoff game in Eggerss Stadium’s illustrious 82 year career as the home of Van Wert football, and the Cougars didn’t disappoint. Van Wert rode a 21 point second quarter into a 33-14 victory over the Huron Tigers Saturday night.

For the final time this season Van Wert walked around the old school building located just beyond the south end zone of the field with Guns n’ Roses Welcome to the Jungle blaring on the speakers. Typically I would say that calling the stoic Eggerss Stadium ‘the Jungle’ would be a stretch— but not on Saturday. The fans came by the thousands, making the oldest stadium in the WBL a loud, energetic and fun place to watch playoff football.

That Van Wert offense that has hopped out in front of their opponents in what seems every week got right to it. As Nate Place capped off a 12 play 3:30 minute drive with a four yard touchdown run, right up the gut. Though the Cougars soon found that a historic program wasn’t going to lay down and play opossum.

For the first time since the Wapakoneta and St. Marys games the Cougars defensive line was getting beat early on in the match up. The Tigers were able to run the ball with ease for their first drives. Whether it was the senior quarterback Drew Sterett or the junior half back Joey Brown, Huron was getting yards by the bundles on each carry.

“We made a simple adjustment,” said Van Wert Head Coach Keith Recker on the Cougars’ defensive play. “We weren’t fitting into our gaps like we were supposed to so it took two or three series, we just switched up our front on gap responsibility and that really took care of it.”

And take it of it did, as after the Tigers scored on their first two possessions, they were unable to change the number on the scoreboard for the rest of the game. Though the Cougars defense did have to make a couple of stands.

“We really bent quite a bit on defense,” continued Recker. “They kept their confidence and kept playing. Once the ball gets down field and it gets tight, and there isn’t those windows we were able to get some big stops.”

The Cougars got their offense rolling in the second quarter, as after being down 14-6 through the first twelve minutes Van Wert got back to form with the explosive big plays. On the second play of the Cougars third drive Nate Place faked the hand off to Jake Hilleary, broke right off the right tackle and wasn’t touched by a single Huron defender en route to the a 56 yard touchdown run. Jake Hilleary would punch in the two point try to tie the game up at 14.

Van Wert was able to stop Huron’s next drive when the Tigers opted to go for it on fourth and one. Sterett showed shotgun formation, then ran up to the line at the last second and tried for the QB sneak. The Tigers line pushed the Cougars enough for the first down but the senior quarterback fumbled the snap resulting in a turnover on downs.

The first play of the next drive for the Cougars? A 50 yard Nate Place touchdown run, his third of four on the night. The Cougars took the lead and never looked back. Place ran four 209 yards on 19 carries, while completing 14 of his 20 passes.

“[Place] does such a great job back there” Recker said of his star quarterback. “He is athletic so if we get him out in the open nobody is going to catch him, but he also knows exactly what we want out our offense. He can switch plays, he can get us in a good position and then he knows where we are trying to hit it too.”

Van Wert scored once more before half to cap off a 21 point second quarter when Place connected with Owen Treece in the back of the end zone. Place scored his final touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter when ran the ball right up the shoot.

Place was helped by Hilleary who rushed for over 100 yards and caught four passes for 34 yards. Treece caught five passes for 32 yards.

The Cougars held Huron to exactly 180 yards both in the air and on the ground, for 360 yards total.

With the victory over Huron Van Wert gears up to take on St. Marys Memorial High School in a rematch from all the way back in early September.

When Coach Recker was told that the Roughriders won their game over Orange High School, he looked forward and nodded his head once and said “good” before continuing by saying they are a very good team and that he and the Cougars are excited for a chance to go play them.

That match up will be slated for next Saturday with the site to be determined.