Roughriders Want To Continue Home Cooking

St. Marys fans and the sideline celebrate after a touchdown in last week’s Western Buckeye League football game against Celina.
By: 
JAKE DOWLING
Sports Editor

St. Marys is unofficially in the playoffs, but against who and where it will play next week is yet to be determined. 

Mathematically, according to Joe Eitel, who calculates all of the computer rankings in Ohio high school football, there is a chance, slim, that the Roughriders might not get into the top eight in Region 12, but the team controls its own destiny heading into its week 10 matchup against Defiance and another website has St. Marys already clinching a playoff spot. 

According to Drew Pasteur’s Ohio Fantastic 50, the Roughriders have already clinched a playoff spot and could be seeded anywhere between the fourth to the seventh seed after Friday’s game. According to the website, there is a 25% chance the Roughriders will be seeded fourth, meaning the team will host a playoff game in a regional quarterfinal, but the highest probability is a No. 5 seed at 42% — which would mean that St. Marys would travel to the No. 4-seeded team in the first round. 

Rounding out the probabilities is 29% chance as a No. 6 seed and 5% as a No. 7 seed. 

However, only one team has a higher probability of becoming a No. 4 seed in the regional in Hamilton Ross (7-2), who has a 30% chance as the No. 4 seed. Hamilton Badin also has a 25% chance at a No. 4 seed, but a more likely 39% chance at the No. 5 seed.

According to Pasteur, there are five teams to root for in week 10: Oxford Talawanda (7-2, Division II, Region 8) over Ross; Sidney (3-6, D-2, R-7) over Greenville (No. 9 seed, 6-3); Springfield (8-1, D-1, R-2) over Trotwood Madison (No. 5 seed, 7-2); Cincinnati Mount Healthy (4-5) over Trenton Edgewood (2-7, D-2, R-8) and Cincinnati Archbishop McNicholas (3-6, D-4, R-16) over Badin (6-3, No. 6 seed).

According to the website, there is a 38% chance that the Roughriders will play Badin in the first round of the playoffs and only a 13% chance of playing Wapakoneta.

Entering Friday, two schools have grabbed the top four spots in order to host a playoff game.

 In the Ohio High School Athletic Association football playoffs, the top four schools in each region will host a game in a regional quarterfinal. The other four playoff games are at neutral sites. Chaminade Julienne and Franklin have clinched a home playoff game and Wapakoneta and Trotwood have each clinched a playoff spot, all according to Joe Eitel. St. Marys, Badin and Ross all control its own destiny.

It has been a long road to get to this point for the Roughriders, who looked like were going to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2015 and much of that credit has been the development of the team as the season has progressed. 

In the past, Roughriders coach Doug Frye has said this season, in a way, has been more challenging for the coaching staff with the moving parts at some positions and the injuries that have caused additional shuffling of lineups. 

Those changes have caused a breakdown in being fundamentally sound for players and a lack of continuity as a whole for the team. 

“I think it is sometimes overlooked at all levels that the more continuity you have, the better you will be because your guys will continue to get better at those little things and the fundamentals of the game,” he said. “With the injuries and the changes we have had — especially at quarterback — that put us a little bit behind, but we have started to come around a little bit and fundamentally get where we need to be.

“What I have seen is a more consistent play in a lot of areas … but we continue to just work to have a more consistent fundamental basis package.”

But Frye added that he did not believe his team has played its best football yet with the playoffs starting next week.

“It is still ahead of us,” he said. “Now whether will we ever get to that point will be based on the fact of staying healthy, staying coachable, continuing to seek improvement and as coaches, we are continuing to do that.”

In relation to the strive to continue to get better, Frye said there was a sense from the team that it would continue to ride on the success from the previous year earlier this season, which he pointed was something that is natural for people to do.

“There was just a little bit of complacency that we thought we would continue to have that success, but I think the losses shocked a little bit into the fact that we needed to, as players and somewhat coaches, pay a little more attention to detail,” he added. 

Frye has said every year that much of the team’s success depended on how far the seniors take them and it has been a major emphasis this year as well. He pointed to last year with a number of first-year starting seniors who played a major role in the team’s state semifinal appearances, such as Braden Wietholter, Jason Taylor and Carter Ballweg and prior to the season, the coach was looking for seniors to be like those in 2019.

And although the team has not seen that same success from this senior class as it did last year, the seniors have begun to step up and mature entering the last week of the season.

“I look at [Carson] Fischbach’s play recently has been a lot better, [Kurt] Bubp at quarterback is one that would jump at is right there,” Frye said. “Lukas Walter’s play has become much more consistent on the defensive side of the ball and Trey Fisher has continued to improve for us.

“Riley Sweigart was a new center for us to replace Mitch Seewer and he has continued to get better, Logan Allen and Ethan Freewalt are also seniors who have come on.”

As the focus is to continue to get better, the focus is also winning on Friday to clinch a home playoff game. 

A home game means either Badin or Trotwood would have to make a long drive up Interstate 75. Badin’s trip is roughly 1 hour and 56 minutes and Trotwood would have to make a 1 hour and 11-minute trek. The Rams played at Wapakoneta last season and lost 24-21.

Frye added that being home during the ladder part of the schedule has been beneficial in terms of his younger players being developed, but he added that his team has been tested on the road against playoff-bound and state-ranked teams Wapakoneta, Ottawa-Glandorf and Kenton, coming away with a 1-2 record in those three games.

“Although they were not far trips, they were tough environments to at and Celina is also a difficult environment to play in and I think that will serve us well in the future.”

WHAT TO WATCH

Scoreboard watching

Entering Friday, the Roughriders are the No. 4 seed in Division III, Region 12 computer rankings and would host a playoff game. A win against Defiance is a must, but also a must is a Trotwood-Madison (7-2) loss to Springfield (8-1). Because Springfield is a Division I school with a good record, the Rams would receive major points from the win and probably enough to leapfrog St. Marys in the rankings for one of the two home playoff spots left. Only 0.618% separates St. Marys and Trotwood and Wapakoneta seems to have a full grip on as the No. 3 seed, even if it loses to Wapakoneta. The Rams, however, have just one win this season against a team with a winning record (Northmont, 5-4).

Here is a rundown of what St. Marys needs to happen: 

Oxford Talawanda (7-2, Division II, Region 8) over Ross; Sidney (3-6, D-2, R-7) over Greenville (No. 9 seed, 6-3); Springfield (8-1, D-1, R-2) over Trotwood Madison (No. 5 seed, 7-2); Cincinnati Mount Healthy (4-5) over Trenton Edgewood (2-7, D-2, R-8) and Cincinnati Archbishop McNicholas (3-6, D-4, R-16) over Badin (6-3, No. 6 seed).

Hunter Fultz

The first-time football player from New Knoxville had his best game last week against Celina and is continuing to get better as the season progresses. Frye said he was not used during the Kenton game week 6, so the junior only has eight games under his belt, but he is starting to be a force on a defensive line that is the deepest position and arguably the most important position on defense with all-state lineman Blake Kanorr, Trey Fisher and a rotation of Wyland McClollum, who should see time back in the lineup this week, and Hunter Fraley. 

“He’s getting better and that is understandable for a young man who has never played football before,” Frye said. “He is starting to find his way now and he is becoming more of a force in the middle of that defense and we really feel that is the best part of our football team.”

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