Seems simple, right? Eleven men a side in Ohio high school football.
Fostoria St. Wendelin, struggling because of few players all season, had just 11 healthy bodies available for Saturday’s Christian Athletic League of America game against the Battle Creek (Mich.) Apocalypse. So the school got approval from the league and an OK from the OHSAA to play eight-man football.
“In playing this year against some of the other teams, the comment had been made: ‘Hey, coach, if you get a couple of injuries and you want to whittle this thing down to an eight-man game, we can work something out,’” said St. Wendelin coach Jim Bodart. “We were always able to keep 11 guys on the field, but after we had a few more injuries, it was like, ‘Well, if we’re going to finish this season, there’s no other option.’”
QB Austin Reinhart scored on runs of 90 and 26 yards and Zach Miller, one of the injured St. Wendelin players cleared to play just before the game, returned two interceptions for TDs as St. Wendelin earned its first win of the season, 38-14.
EARTH MOVERS: Scott Davidson of Jefferson Area ran for 357 yards on 35 carries and scored three TDs in a 34-26 win at Girard; Brenden Wells ran for a Beloit West Branch-record 356 yards in a 35-14 win over previously unbeaten and D3 No. 1 Alliance Marlington; Aaron Rossi of Geneva rushed for 228 yards on 39 carries and scored 4 touchdowns in a 34-26 victory over Eastlake North; Antwan Persons had 32 carries for 210 yards and two touchdowns in leading Dayton Chaminade Julienne to a 23-10 defeat of Dayton Carroll; and Mansfield Senior’s Keevon Taylor rushed for a career-high 211 yards and three TDs in a 40-21 win over Lexington.
PITCH AND CATCH: Tyler Loftus of Ashtabula Lakeside completed 20 of 39 passes for 363 yards in a 54-20 loss at Madison; Tony Chiacchiero of Jefferson Area became the Falcons’ single-season record holder in passing yardage (1,672) and touchdown passes (19); Kenton’s Grant Sherman and Defiance’s Joe Keween combined for 789 passing yards as Kenton won a 42-32 shootout; and Haviland Wayne Trace’s Colby Speice threw for 224 yards and five TDs in a 73-14 win over Antwerp and now has thrown for 2,756 yards and 41 touchdowns this season.
NOT LAND-LOCKED: Unbeaten Clarksville Clinton-Massie has rushed 313 times this season while passing just 45 times. However, 11 of those 45 passes have gone for TDs. Tyler Uetrecht is 28 of 44 for 650 yards and 10 TDs while RB Bayle Wolf completed his only attempt for 62 yards and a score.
BULLET POINTS: Van Wert won its 500th game — and first of the season — in defeating St. Marys Memorial 26-6 in a battle of winless teams; St. Marys Memorial needs a win this Friday against Lima Shawnee to avoid the first winless season in school history; Coal Grove hogged the ball for 10:23 and 19 plays, 61 yards and 16 plays and 95 yards and eight plays in a 46-14 win against Chesapeake; Bryan scored 42 points in the second quarter en route to a 60-14 win over Swanton to earn at least a share of the NWOAL title for the first time since 1986; Middletown Fenwick stopped a two-point conversion in the last minute to beat Kettering Alter for the first time ever, 35-34; Beavercreek’s 27-21 defeat of Centerville marked its first over the Elks since 1984; thanks to Michael Griffin’s 18 carries for 333 yards (best at the school in 20 years) and four TDs, Norwalk St. Paul’s John Livengood won his 200th career game in his 22nd season; Glouster Trimble beat Racine Southern 21-0 for its sixth shutout in a row, not giving up a point since a 74-6 win over South Gallia on Sept. 7; and Jake Vormelker of Orwell Grand Valley picked off two passes and ran them both back (32, 60 yards) in a 45-21 victory against over Vienna Mathews.
RECORD SMASHERS: Oak Harbor’s Mark Konieczny reached 1,750 yards to set a school rushing record and AJ Cecil set a season receiving mark with 624 yards in a 49-14 victory over Sandusky St. Mary; and Findlay’s Vance Settlemire carried 25 times for 376 yards and six TDs (12, 17, 81, 58, 29, 94 yards) in a 62-34 win over Toledo St. John’s, setting game and season (1,682) and extending his career (3,008) rushing marks.
MR. EVERYTHING: Liberty-Benton’s Mitch Linhart carried 25 times for 200 yards and three touchdowns, completed 9 of 18 passes for 85 yards, and intercepted a pass to seal a 21-14 win over previously unbeaten Leipsic; and Columbiana Crestview’s Caleb McGath set a school season record with his 60th extra point in a 63-0 win over East Palestine on Friday and then had three goals and two assists in a 12-0 soccer tournament win over East Palestine a day later.
Finally, a driving rainstorm couldn’t slow defending D4 state champ Creston Norwayne in a 59-13 win over Jeromesville Hillsdale.
Jon Zimmerly carried 34 times for a school-record 324 yards, including TDs of 12, 15, 46 and 32 yards — in three quarters — to break the mark set by his father, Doug, of 292 yards in 1983.
“It’s awesome, it’s a great feeling,” said Jon, whose father is now the school principal. “To pass it through the family is great. We joked around a little bit asking my dad what exactly his (record) yardage total was, but he finally told us.”