Western Reserve Roughriders ready to prove they belong

To say Western Reserve squeaked into the playoffs might be an understatement. The Roughriders had to wait until last Saturday’s result of the St. Paul-Monroeville game to see if they would have enough points to jump from the 11th spot in Division V, Region 18, to the eighth spot.

The Flyers 35-0 victory was just enough to vault Western Reserve past Carey by 0.05 points and into the postseason for the third time in school history.

“Anyway you can get in; now, we’ve got to make the most of it,” Western Reserve coach Mike Stoll said. “We’ve made that point to the guys that there’s a lot of teams that are done, the season’s over. We’re still going. We’ve got as much of a shot as anybody else.”

Now the Roughriders are faced with the difficult task of going on the road to face the number one seed in the region, Lima Central Catholic. The Thunderbirds are in the playoffs for the seventh time in the past eight seasons, and their ninth overall in school history.

“They’re pretty tough. They’re really fast,” Stoll said. “John Washington, their tailback, is about 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, and he runs hard. He’s really good at breaking plays where it looks like a team will have him, and he’ll spin out. He’s going to be a handful to stop.”

Washington led Lima Central Catholic to a 10-0 season, in which they played powerhouse schools like Delphos St. Johns and Ada. Two years ago the Thunderbirds made it all the way to the state final four.

“They’ve been number one, pretty much the whole season, in our region,” Stoll said. “It’s a good challenge for us. We start out with them, and we think we’ve got a pretty good game plan.”

The Roughriders finished the season with an 8-2 record, losing to defending state champion Norwayne, who hasn’t lost a game in the past two seasons, and New London. The 7-6 loss to New London was what nearly cost Western Reserve a chance in the playoffs.

Theron Martz has been the catalyst for the Roughriders throughout the season. Martz has rushed for 921 yards, averaging 6.1 yards per carry while scoring 15 touchdowns.

Willie Roth has rushed for 400 yards this season, and Mason Robson rushed for 336 yards to round out the Riders’ ground attack.

While Western Reserve does try to keep the ball on the ground, quarterback Will Pritt did complete 47 passes for 690 yards and four touchdowns to keep teams honest.

Still, against the Thunderbirds, Western Reserve is going to have their hands full, but there may be hope.

“We want to keep the ball away from them, as much as we can. We have to pick up first downs,” Stoll said. “We know last year that they were knocked out in the first round, and they might start thinking about that.

“The key for us is to keep it tight, and not let them bust some big plays on us.”

Win or lose, the Roughriders are looking to make their community proud.

“We want to make it a positive experience for the kids, because they earned it,” Stoll said. “We really have nothing to lose, and we want to get out and have a good showing. We want to make our community proud.”


Last Updated: 11/2/2012 8:24:29 PM EST

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