Battle of Woods set for an encore


Two familiar foes will be facing each other Friday at Bowling Green High School’s Bobcat Stadium.

The 13th week is guaranteed to be an unlucky week for either Eastwood or Elmwood.

The annual Battle of the Woods between Eastwood and Elmwood has been played 64 times with Eastwood enjoying a 46-17-1 all-time series lead.

On Friday, the Eagles (12-0) and Royals (11-1) will face other in an encore Division V regional semifinal playoff game.

“It’s a great rivalry for a reason,” Eastwood coach Craig Rutherford said. “Two real good football teams, two great communities close to each other.”

The teams met on Sept. 30, combining for 1,047 yards of total offense while lighting up the scoreboard during a 49-48 Eastwood win.

Ultimately, that game proved to be for the league championship. It came down to a failed two-point conversion attempt by the Royals with 1:37 remaining in the game.

“Back in that game, we wanted to go for the win,” Elmwood coach Greg Bishop said. “Obviously it was a tight game at their place and it’s a minute and 30 seconds left in the game.

“We just told our kids we’re going for the win.”

Now, Elmwood gets another shot at the Eagles. Expect similar numbers — the Royals average 494.8 yards per game, the Eagles average 400.9.

“We still have to be explosive and get better at the stuff we do, and execute at a better level,” Bishop said.

Elmwood’s players have made it no secret that they wanted this second shot at the Eagles.

“Obviously we know each other very well,” Bishop said. “Eastwood knows us, and obviously we are in the same league, and we are rivals.

“For our kids, it is a great opportunity in front of us. It’s going to be a great atmosphere at the game, so we’re excited for this opportunity to play Eastwood again.”

Boos on the run

Eastwood is led by the Northern Buckeye Conference Player of the Year, speedy 5-foot-10, 157-pound senior quarterback Case Boos, who has accumulated 2,226 total yards of offense.

Boos has run for 1,595 yards on 164 carries with 28 touchdowns, averaging 9.8 per carry and 132.9 per game.

Boos leads a four-headed senior backfield, behind an offensive linethat executes the winged-T offense the way it was designed.

Bryce DeFalco, at 5-9, 175 pounds, has run for 1,004 yards on 133 carries (7.5 per carry) with 16 TDs.

Bryce Hesselbart, at 5-9, 187 pounds, has run for 483 yards on 51 carries (9.5) with five TDs, and 5-10, 150-pound Isaac Reynolds has carried the ball 65 times for 399 yards (6.1) and six TDs.

Boos can throw, too, with 60% accuracy. He has completed 26-of-43 passes for 631 yards with eight TDs and no interceptions.

His favorite receiver is 5-10, 202-pound tight end Kaiden Sanchez, who has caught six passes for 152 yards and three TDs.

Boos, a cornerback and Hesselbart, a lineman, are a force on defense, too, with three interceptions apiece — enough to create havoc for Elmwood’s 6-4, 200-pound senior quarterback Hayden Wickard.

Wickard’s passing numbers are exponentially larger than Boos — he has completed 170 of 261 passes for 2,947 yards (65%) with 30 TDs and just 10 interceptions.

Mason Mossbarger, a 6-1, 165-pound senior, has caught 41 passes for 952 yards (23.2 per catch) and 13 TDs.

Alex Arnold, a 6-1, 185-pound senior, has 29 catches for 705 yards and four TDs, and 6-1, 180-pound junior Micah Oliver has 37 catches for 577 yards and six TDs.

Elmwood has a more balanced attack, which can be useful this time of year.

Senior running back Mason Oliver, at 5-10, 200 pounds, has run for 1,824 yards on 181 carries, averaging 10.1 yards per carry, and he has scored 22 rushing TDs. He has also caught 13 passes for 160 yards and one TD.

Coaches say both teams know each other so well, that preparation does not change. It will just be a matter of which team executes.

“Our guys have done such a great job of staying in a rhythm each week,” Rutherford said. “It’s not like just any other week. It’s a great playoff game against a rival, but at the same time, we approach Monday’s practice the same way we always approach Monday, and all through the week we just made sure that we stayed in a rhythm. It’s worked for us so well during the season so far.”

Bishop added, “We’re both real good football teams and it is going to come down to execution and who makes the least number of mistakes. That’s going to be the tale of the game come Friday night.”

Despite their offensive numbers, both Elmwood and Eastwood had to come from behind to win their regional quarterfinal games — both trailed at halftime.

Elmwood trailed Tinora (8-4) 12-7, but scored 27 unanswered to defeat the Rams, 34-15. Eastwood trailed Oak Harbor (10-2), 14-3, but came back to win, 24-20.

“It was a combination of a few different things,” Rutherford said. “We’re pretty much back to full strength now but we had a couple injuries, so some of our guys were playing a little bit out of their normal position.

“We got everybody back and settled in there in the second half and I think that made a difference for us. Guys were just more comfortable with what they’ve done all season.

“They started to get a little more movement on the offensive line in the second half and then that opened some space. We don’t need huge holes, but we got just enough there in the second half to start getting the ball moving.”

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