This one was a dandy. A first quarter calm and a second half storm. Trash talk and smack downs. Circus catches and on-side kicks. Fourth down conversions. Eighty-four points and 834 yards. The “Wing-n-Fling”. A Mauk-ery. And when it was all said and done, the MVP HD Game of the Week had it covered, smothered and buttered.
Video by Alex Sator
KENTON WINS THE WBL OUTRIGHT, MAUK NEEDS 106 YARDS TO BREAK BROTHER’S NATIONAL PASSING RECORD
By Tim Langevin
Facing Kenton QB Maty Mauk is a quagmire for any opponent. The Wapakoneta defense was no exception. The Missouri-bound senior with a rakish attitude, dominated with his arm (338 yards and five TDs) and toyed with his legs (183 yards and two TDs). Even the Redskins’ high-scoring offense couldn’t keep pace, losing 52-32 before a jam-packed Harmon Field crowd Friday night in a WBL Championship showdown.
Wapak head coach Doug Frye nailed it when asked about Maty, “He was a man among boys. Take him out of the picture and we’ve got a football game.”
Kenton scored on 7-of-8 possessions this contest and Mauk accounted for it all, including 521 yards of total offense. He was being chased all over the field, all night long. But nobody could catch him. Kind of like that fly that gets in the house. You chase it with a fly-swatter whole-heartedly, until finally, you give up and say, “screw it”.
Kenton’s effort earned them a fourth straight WBL title and a perfect 10-0 regular season record. The top seeded Wildcats (D-IV, Region 14) host 7-3 Wellington Saturday. The players and coaches were excited about the win, but one could see the itinerary on their faces -Massillon Paul Brown Stadium: December 3, 2011: 3:00 PM.
“The season is over. Time to start a new season,” said Maty Mauk. “Need to get better, move forward next week, and try to get to that fifth game.”
Said Kenton coach Mike Mauk: “It feels good. We had a great season. Four straight WBL titles. That shows consistency. Our kids played exceptionally well. Time to regroup and focus on what’s next.”
Wapak started the game with five straight running plays for 14 yards and a first down. Senior FB Connor Pickens accounted for 12 yards. The game plan was on course. On third down and nine, QB Kyle Gibson fumbled and DL Alex Laney recovered it. Game plan off course.
Kenton took advantage of a short field and scored six plays later. Mauk connected with Kieran Fetter on a 17-yard bubble screen before hooking up with Justin Sawmiller for an 11-yard TD pass. Mauk ran in the two-point conversion and the Wildcats led 8-0 with 7:44 left in the quarter.
Wapak was 9-0 for a reason and they weren’t about to roll over. The Redskins picked up where they left off prior to the fumble with a grinding, time-consuming drive of 70 yards in 12 plays. Pickens carried the ball four times for 15 yards. Jensen Merricle skirted the edges for 17 yards on four carries and Kevin Kraft capped it with a nifty eight-yard TD run. The two-point conversion failed and kenton clinged to an 8-6 lead with 1:35 left in the first quarter.
The offensive line was instrumental as the Redskins managed 3-of-3 third down conversions.
Frye said, “The kids up front did a great job. Our wing is solid, but our fling is still a work in progress. It needs work.”
Kenton’s next possession yielded six yards and a punt. That would prove to be the only punt of the game for the Wildcats.
Wapak took over on downs, but a sack by Christian Miller-Goecke on third down and seven, ended that threat. Miller-Goecke has 87 tackles and four sacks on the season.
Kenton expanded the lead 16-6 on an eight-play, 73-yard march with 8:50 left in the half. Mauk kept the drive alive with a 36-yard pass completion to Sawmiller on a third and 28 situation. Four plays later, Mauk scrambled for a 34-yard TD run on third and 10. It was reminiscent of Fran Tarkenton. Running all over the backfield, pump-faking as he goes, switching directions, stopping and starting. Kind of like that fly in the house.
Speaking of that fly in the house, Wapak wouldn’t go away. The Redskins responded with a 65-yard drive in 11 plays to narrow the gap 16-12 with 4:07 remaining. Pickens churned out the yardage with 24 on four carries, including a pivotal 10-yard TD run on fourth and six. It was a beauty. Stolen from Kenton’s playbook, QB Kyle Gibson went in motion, leaving Pickens alone in the backfield with a five-receiver set. He took the snap and bolted up the middle for the score.
The non-partisan crowd roared. Wapak fans out of excitement and the Kenton side screaming for an illegal procedure call.
Coach Mauk said, “It was too hard to tell. The field was spread and the refs can’t see everything. It was one of those bang, bang plays that happened so fast.”
Plenty of time for Mauk and Co. to respond before the half. Kenton marched 74 yards in 11 plays to take a 24-12 lead. Mauk found three different receivers for 45 yards and scrambled for another 24 yards, including a one-yard waltz into the endzone. Fetter had two catches for six yards, Sawmiller one catch for 16 yards, and Matt Bahr one catch for 23 yards on third and four to keep the drive alive.
“That drive before half helped us re-gain the momentum and it carried over in the second half,” coach Mauk said. “They have a great defense and they showed us different looks, but we are used to it by now. We practice against different looks every day. I’m just real pleased the way the O-Line has protected the quarterback.”
Mauk completed 28-of-40 passes to six different receivers and was sacked only once, that occuring late in the fourth quarter by DL Cole Thrush. In all, Fetter had seven catches for 91 yards. Barr had six catches for 74 yards and one TD. Brice Fackler caught five passes for 71 yards and two TDs. And Sawmiller hauled in eight catches for 106 yards and two TDs.
Kenton notched three scores in the third quarter to turn a close 24-12 game into a 46-12 rout. Mauk threw two TD passes to Fackler of 14 yards and 21 yards and one TD to Sawmiller for six yards. Sawmiller leads all Kenton wide-outs with 101 catches for 1,334 yards and 14 TDs on the season.
Coach Mauk said, “Our defense stepped up in the third quarter. They have a great offense. They run hard. Their quarterback is a good athlete and they have great athletes on the perimeter. We were fortunate to hold them scoreless that quarter.”
“They beat us in the third quarter,” Frye said. “They out-hit us. They out-played us. In order to win a big game like this one, we need to play hard every down. We didn’t tackle well enough.”
The frustration mounted for Wapak as Mauk gashed the defense with 66 rushing yards in the third quarter. To add insult to injury, Mauk punished would-be tacklers with stiff-arms and head-on collisions; and on one play, Mauk lowered the boom with his right shoulder on LB Brendan Wilson before heading out of bounds. Words were exchanged. The previous play, words were exchanged after Mauk was slow to get up after a late hit.
No doubt it was a physical battle as both teams combined were whistled for 14 penalties for 134 yards. Five of the flags were a result of personal fouls.
Kenton QB coach Ben Mauk said, “Maty will do anything it takes to win. I know as a former quarterback, sitting back there you are the guy taking the hits. It feels good to dish out a few hits as well. Maty kind of takes it to an extreme. As a coaching staff, we prefer him to step out of bounds.”
Maty Mauk responded, “Everybody was jacked. Their fans kept sending me pictures and comments on my facebook all week. And then to come in and see all the people…Incredible… I’ll do whatever it takes to gain an extra yard. Gotta keep pushing.”
Down 34 points with 12:29 left in the game, Wapak staged a miraculous comeback to slice the lead 46-32 with 8:06 left in the game. The Redskins scored on a quick, six-play drive behind the running of Pickens, who gained 38 yards, and a 32-yard pass play from Gibson to Merricle, before Gibson punched it in from the one-yard-line.
Zach Schmerge recovered the on-side kick and Wapak was back in business. The Redskins zipped down field 48 yards in seven plays, capped by Gibson’s five-yard TD pass to Alex Greve. Gibson completed 9-of-18 passes for 106 yards and one score on the night.
Brandon Miller recovered the on-side kick and Wapak was back in business, again. This time the Redskins wasted little time, scoring two plays later after a 30-yard pass from Gibson to Kraft and a 16-yard TD romp by Pickens. The hard-running FB finished the game with 128 yards on 18 carries for a 7.1 average and two TDs. Pickens has over 1,600 yards and 26 TDs on the year.
Wapak scored 20 points in a 2:22 span and the awakened Wapak faithful erupted with hope. The Kenton side was in shock. What’s that saying, “Not so fast my friend.”
The Redskins kicked it deep this time and Kenton started from its own 10-yard-line with 7:56 left. Enter Maty Mauk. The three-star recruit, who played like a five-star recruit this bone-chilling night, engineered a 90-yard drive in 10 plays to secure Kenton’s ninth WBL title in school history and in the process, provide dad with win #199.
Mauk was perfect on the drive, completing 5-of-5 passes for 62 yards, including the clinching 30-yard TD strike to Bahr. He added another 45 yards on the ground. Mauk has established five national schoolboy career records this season. The sixth is about to fall this week as Maty needs just 106 passing yards to break older brother Ben’s career mark of 17,365 yards.
Ben had a spectacular four-year career at Kenton from 1999-2002, setting national passing records in several categories. He later played at Wake Forest and Cincinnati before returning home to coach. He said, “I am happy for Maty and I’m happier for this team. Maty says that I am his eyes in the sky when I’m up in the press box. If I see anything that can help, I relay it down on the field.”
Frye said, “We won’t blink. Go back to work and learn from our mistakes. We need to get ready for the playoffs…This team has a great work ethic. They believe in what we are doing…Great support from the community. This place has been bonkers.”
Wapak drops to 9-1 on the season. It is the first home loss since Frye arrived two seasons ago. The Redskins finish fifth in the D-II, Region 8 computer rankings and travel to 9-1 Franklin in the opening round of the playoffs Friday.
Both teams were efficient on offense. Wapak gained 313 yards of total offense with 16 first downs. The Redskins converted 7-of-14 third downs and 2-of-2 fourth downs. Kenton recorded 27 first downs, including 6-of-10 on third down and 1-of-1 on fourth down.
Many people have speculated that this will be coach Mauk’s final year and that Ben Mauk is next in line for the job. Ben dismissed the rumors stating, “We haven’t even talked about it at home. I don’t foresee him leaving. There are too many Kenton kids wanting to be coached by him and be a part of his teams. This offense is fun for kids and they want to be a part of it…As for me, I am happy where I am as an assistant. I enjoy watching these kids grow up and having success. That is more meaningful to me…Kenton is my home and I plan on staying here for a long time.”
Side Note: Starting DB/SE Josh Carder was not permitted to play in Friday’s game after school officials were notified by the OHSAA Thursday of a possible rules violation. An OHSAA investigator followed Crider, who is listed as living in the Cridersville area to a residence in Elida. Crider transferred from Elida to Wapakoneta after his sophomore season.
If found inelgible, Wapakoneta could forfeit all wins and be disqualified from the playoffs. A decision is expected this week.