The Swanton Bulldogs were on a mission Friday night, scoring 34 first half points and adding seven more after the break for a 41-7 victory over the visiting Wauseon Indians.
It was the Bulldogs first win against Wauseon since 1998.
“It is a monkey off our back as a program. It’s been so long,” said Swanton coach Mike Vicars. “Of all the things over the last 15 to 20 years, it was the biggest demon left to slay.”
For Wauseon, it was their second straight loss after opening NWOAL play with three straight wins.
“It was bad all the way around. It’s amazing how far we’ve fallen in just a year’s time,” said coach Travis Cooper. “I don’t know if effort was there all the time, and that’s the one thing as a coach that’s really hard to handle. I’m not getting the job done as a coach. Our staff isn’t getting the job done as a staff. But the one thing that our kids can control is their effort and how hard they go on every play. I’m not sure we’re getting that right now.”
After forcing a three-and-out from the Indians to begin the game, Swanton scored in just six plays.
The drive began with a 31 yard completion from Marek Spiess to Gunnar Oakes, and ended with a 22 yard touchdown to Oakes in the right corner of the end zone. Nick Koback added the extra point as Swanton led 7-0 at the 8:05 mark of the first quarter.
On their next drive, Swanton’s Chase Avalos found the end zone on a 42-yard touchdown run, making it 14-0 with 4:20 left in the first.
The woes continued for Wauseon on the ensuing possession when Jonny Shanks of Swanton picked off Hunter Yackee’s pass on the first play and returned it all the way for a score. This put them up 21-0 at the 4:07 mark.
Michael Lawniczak’s three yard plunge into the end zone with 10:01 to go in the second quarter gave Swanton a 28-0 edge before the Indians finally got on the board.
Following a pair of nice runs from tailback Junior Martinez, Everett Bueter ripped off a 21 yard run to give them a first down at the Swanton 30 yard line. Three plays later, Bueter scored from 15 yards out and Andrew Gray’s point after cut it to 28-7 with 7:06 left in the half.
“We ran the ball pretty well,” said Cooper. “They were taking away our outside stuff. We’ve been primarily going outside on most of our runs and passes. That’s all we’ve been able to get to most of the season. So they were overloading the edges and we hit a couple up the middle.
“But collectively as an offense, you’re not gonna win when you score seven points a game. Which is what we are doing all too often. And defensively we’re giving up school records in rushing, and just yards upon yards.”
The Dogs would then score with only 30 seconds left in the half. Already in Wauseon territory at the 19 yard line, Spiess hit Lawniczak out of the backfield down to the one where Avalos punched it in.
“We had excellent pass protection,” said Vicars on the success of his team’s passing game. “But Marek (Spiess) really bettered himself this week in practice. I thought he threw the ball to not only Gunnar (Oakes), but he threw the ball to Jonny (Shanks) very well down the field and he also hit Michael (Lawniczak) out of the backfield on that one. I thought that really helped get us off to a good start.”
The extra point missed and the Dogs took a 34-7 lead into the break.
Swanton opened the second half with the ball, scoring in just five plays as Lawniczak ran it in from three yards out to make it 41-7 after Koback’s extra point.
Spiess was 7 of 10 for 161 yards and the TD to Oakes. Lawniczak led the rushing attack with 85 yards on 15 carries and two scores, while Avalos finished with 51 yards and had two TDs as well.
Martinez accumulated 126 yards on 13 carries for the Indians while Bueter had 72 on 11 carries.
Swanton (7-1, 4-1 NWOAL) next has a showdown on the road at Liberty Center this week. Wauseon (3-5, 3-2) returns home to face Evergreen.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010