Ready to run: Bobcat offense and defense clicking

Bowling Green High School Football hasn’t won an NLL title in 19 years, but with each passing week in
2020 they are only getting closer.
The Bobcats are 4-0 overall for the first time since 2015 and 4-0 in the NLL for the first time since
2000. They are going up against a Perrysburg team in week five that holds the same record.
This is the biggest football game that the BGHS program has seen in a while, but head coach Dirk Conner
doesn’t have to tell his players that.
“There’s no getting them ready — they were ready today, they were ready Friday night. It’s a focus and
we’ve got some pretty mature kids,” he said.
The Bobcats have been ready for every game this season, winning their four games by a combined 154-45.
Most of those 154 points have come on the ground. That includes last week’s 35-2 victory over
Springfield where the Bobcats ran for 371 yards and four touchdowns.
Quarterback Eli Brown led the way with 178 yards and a touchdown and has led the Bobcats all season with
638 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.
The option has become a staple of the Conner offense at Bowling Green, and he said it is essential to
their success against some of the bigger NLL schools.
“My foundational belief is that you have to be able to run the football to be successful,” he said. “With
the size of school that we are and the size of schools that we compete against in our league week in and
week out, you know our option scheme gives us the best opportunity to do that.”
This is the way the offense has been since Conner arrived. The defense is a different story.
In their 3-7 campaign last season, the Bobcats gave up 132 points in the first four games. This season
they have only given up 45 in the same amount of time. A large part of that is due to a shift at
defensive coordinator coming into this season, something that Conner had run since becoming the head
coach.
“Well I think we were fortunate to bring in coach (Mike) Ward in the offseason to run that show and it
was time, you know I’ve done myself for the last six, seven years. It was time for a change over there
and Mike’s come in and done an incredible job for us,” he said.
The new defense headed by Ward isn’t just stopping the other team — they are scoring points for
themselves with a touchdown on defense in each of the last two weeks.
Last week it was Ryan Jackson, also the team’s leading receiver with 127 yards, who picked up a
Springfield fumble and ran it in. In week three Michael Becker’s 21-yard interception return for a
touchdown was huge in the close victory over Anthony Wayne.
But for as good as the defense has been, they haven’t seen an offense like Perrysburg yet. It’s a
Perrysburg team that Conner believes is successful for a lot of the same reasons that his team has been
successful this year.
“A lot of the things that have made us good, same thing for them. They are able to run the ball
successfully, they can control the tempo of the game and the pace and they don’t make a lot of
mistakes,” he said.
Running back Connor Walendzak has been pivotal in that rushing attack this season. In the Yellow Jackets’
win last week over undefeated Napoleon, the sophomore had 233 yards for two touchdowns on 39 carries.

Perrysburg football has been a solid program for a long time and it is a program that Conner’s Bowling
Green squads have been able to compete against. Since 2015, the Bobcats are 2-3 against the Yellow
Jackets
“There are a lot of teams that are probably a little worse than 2-3 over the last five years and so the
fact that we are on that plane with them and we do compete year in and year out … I actually think that
it’s a compliment to our program that we are at the point where we are battling with beating Perrysburg
semi-consistently,” he said.
A win in this game wouldn’t clinch a NLL title for the Bobcats just yet due to a game scheduled with
Sylvania Southview on Oct. 23, but with Napoleon’s loss to Perrysburg last week, it would put them one
win away.
“I don’t know what it necessarily means for the town but things are sure a lot different around here than
they were in 2013 when I first moved here. We worked very hard to get to this point and we still want to
have that season that puts us over the top and shows us that we still belong in that conversation with
the upper tier guys in this conference,” Conner said.