Eastwood football ready for next test

Eastwood Coach Jerry
Rutherford (left) talks to quarterback Clayton Ruch during the galion game. (Photo: Enoch

LUCKEY – Eastwood’s football team had plenty to prove last week.
Now that the Eagles have beaten the seventh-ranked team in the first round of the state high school
football playoffs, they’re hardly satisfied.
Eastwood is striving for a run deep into the playoffs.
The Eagles – coming off a terrific performance in a 35-6 win over Galion – play Ottawa-Glandorf in a
Division IV, Region 14 semifinal at Findlay’s Donnell Stadium. The battle of 9-2 teams starts at 7:30
The Eagles totaled 426 yards, including 377 yards rushing, allowing them to hold the ball for almost 30
minutes. The defense gave up just 91 yards rushing and 85 yards passing.
Eastwood, seeded eighth in the region, held a 21-0 lead at the half against the region’s top-seeded team.
O-G is seeded fourth.
"We knew we were a good team, but we hadn’t shown it yet," said Eagle senior Nick Schmeltz, who
starts at receiver and in the secondary. "To win a big game and show people that are a good team
was great. "We just have to keep playing like we did last week. We want to carry last week over to
this week. That game gave us a big boost, a lot of confidence."
The Eagles were sharp in the second half of their final regular-season game against Gibsonburg, a 34-6
"We were ready," Eastwood senior linebacker Bob Hardison said. "Last week was one of our
best weeks of practice this year. We knew we were going to play well. We felt good all week because you
could see the change in practice.
"We played with a lot of intensity and emotion, and a sense of urgency. We fed off each other and
played as a team. It was a lot of fun."
Eastwood is in the playoffs for the third straight season and sixth time in the last eight seasons,
advancing to the regional final in 2007.
"These are good guys on our team," said Eastwood coach Jerry Rutherford, whose team was hit
hard by injuries and other personnel issues during the regular season. "It’s great to see them have
success the way they did against Galion."
The offensive line of Taylor Link, Kris Hayward, Forest Ickes, Jeff Rutherford, Seth Hoffmann and Clay
Rolf has blocked well this season, enabling running backs Pernell Conner (1,100 yards) and Cody Seifert
(1,045) to both rush for over 1,000 yards.
Tony Tijerina also runs well with 414 yards rushing. Clayton Ruch has thrown for 468 yards and five
touchdowns, while Rolf and Seifert each have 12 receptions.
"Everyone worked together and did their job … it was incredible to watch," Schmeltz said of
the team’s offense against Galion.
The Eagles are allowing 16.6 yards and 268.5 yards per game, but had the big game against Galion. They
intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble.
Hoffmann, a linebacker, leads the team with 100 tackles, while Hardison is second with 91. Jake Rogers is
third with 75, followed by Matt Pickerel 62, Rolf 59 and Abke 58.
"We had shifted some guys around and made some adjustments during the week," Hardison said.
"Everyone stepped up and made plays."
O-G is in the playoffs for the fifth straight season and seventh time overall, losing to Genoa in the
regional final last season.
The Titans advanced with a 28-14 win over Wooster Triway, rushing for 210 yards and holding the ball for
30 minutes. O-G’s defense caused five turnovers.
Junior quarterback Nathan Kahle has rushed for 808 yards and completed 46 percent of his passes for 1,187
yards and nine touchdowns. Sophomore Brandon Kuhlman has rushed for 810 yards, while senior Ryan Kuhlman
has caught 29 passes.
The Titans use the I and shotgun formations. O-G is averaging 36.0 points and 347.1 yards per game,
including 206.7 yards rushing.
"Their quarterback runs and throws well," coach Rutherford said.
O-G is giving up 16.7 points and 251 yards per game.
"Their defense is pretty aggressive," coach Rutherford said.
O-G coach Ken Schriner, who played college football at Bowling Green State University from 1985-87, is in
his 14th season with a 96-57 record.