Renewed Focus Helping Riders In Playoff Run

Members of the St. Marys Roughriders offense huddle before a play during a Division IV, Region 14 championship game on Saturday.
Sports Editor

A loss can actually be a good thing, a sort of blessing in disguise, and in this case, St. Marys would probably agree with that statement when it comes to the Roughriders’ loss to Wapakoneta on Oct. 26.

Similar to the 2016 season when that Roughriders team lost its regular season finale at home  against Ottawa-Glandorf, the Riders have found themselves in another long playoff run.

Both losses turned a sure-fire outright Western Buckeye League championship into a share — a tri-share in 2016 and co-share with Wapakoneta this year — either way, both losses have netted a long postseason run for the Roughriders and at the end of the day, they’ll take that any day.

“You set that goal (for a long playoff run), but you also understand that there will have to be a lot of little things that are going have to happen in terms of doing the little things and being healthy, but I did believe in our kids and I did believe in our coaches and I knew we could get better throughout the season,” Roughriders coach Doug Frye said. “This is a very coachable group of kids and I am just proud of our kids.”

In 2016, the Roughriders won their first home playoff game in school history by beating Dayton Belmont, dismantled the top-ranked team in Division III, Region 12 in Franklin and lost a close game to seven-time regional champion Trotwood-Madison — who advanced to the state final that season.

This season, the Roughriders easily defeated Orange, beat Van Wert for a second time this year and took down the top-ranked team in Division IV, region 14 play. Now, St. Marys is one game away from a trip to Canton.

“The loss helped us because it showed us that we are not unstoppable and it proved that we had a lot of work to do,” defensive lineman Blake Kanorr said after the Roughriders 38-7 regional final win against Clear Fork on Saturday.

That loss against Wapakoneta exposed the Roughriders offense with two costly turnovers that yielded 10 points for the Redskins in a game that saw St. Marys lose two fumbles after losing just four all season. The Roughriders also allowed the most points in a game (26) since a week five win against Kenton (29) as well as giving up the third-most rushing yards in a game this season in 171 yards — came into game surrendering just 109.4 rushing yards per game.

St. Marys  also finished with a season-high three giveaways and ended the game with a -1 in the turnover margin for the first time this season.

Since then, the Roughriders have been a much different team.

A blessing in disguise.

“You just have to dedicate yourself to the program and put in the work to get those results,” quarterback Braeden Dunlap said. 

In the three postseason games since, the Roughriders have not turned the ball over, have forced seven turnovers, allowed a combined 40 points (an average of 13.3 points per game) and is allowing a combined 315.3 yards on average in the three playoff games. The Riders allowed 320 yards of offense against Wapakoneta.

“I give Wapakoneta credit, they did the necessary things to win the game and we didn’t get those things done,” Frye said after the loss to Wapakoneta. “Hopefully we learn from it, clean it up and get moving on a playoff run.”

With those statistics, it would seem his team has learned from that loss and it helped them grab its first regional title in 14 years.

“It’s always been our goal, especially to practice on Thanksgiving,” center Mitchell Seewer said. “We just want to be our own team. The regional finals were just done two years ago, last year we lost in the second round and this year, we want to make our own season.”