Monday, May 27, 2024

Pirate football takes on Ottawa Hills in regional semis

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By Cort Reynolds

The Bluffton High School football team will face its toughest playoff foe yet when they take on Ottawa Hills on Friday, November 10, at Napoleon. Both teams have 11-1 records coming into the Div. VI, Region 22 semifinal game.

The #2 seeded Pirates have rolled over two foes so far by a combined score of 101-6 at home in the post-season. Friday’s game promises to be much more competitive.

The #6 seeded Green Bears won their second straight Toledo Area Athletic Conference title in 2023. Ottawa Hills has outscored its two playoff opponents by a combined 70-28 score.

“Ottawa Hills is a very talented team that is explosive on offense,” said Pirate head coach Jeff Richards. “They spread the ball around and create big plays both running and passing.

“Defensively, they run to the ball well and limit big plays,” he added.

The Green Bears went on the road and upset third seed Colonel Crawford 28-21 in their second round contest last Friday. OH led 15-7 at halftime before an eventful 21-point third stanza.

CC rallied to take a 21-15 lead when the Eagles returned a fumble 36 yards for a touchdown. The Bears tied it on a 54-yard TD aerial, and the point after kick gave the visitors a 22-21 edge with under a minute left in the third period.

The hosts recovered the ensuing on-side kickoff and drove inside the Bear 10. But OH intercepted an Eagle pass to thwart the drive. The Bears then drove downfield to score on a nine-yard TD aerial with six minutes left to provide a 28-21 lead, and their defense made the margin stand up.

“Ottawa Hills has a number of dynamic players and is creative on special teams,” said Richards. “They are solid in all areas of the game. Number five (Jack Perozek, a 6-3 senior), is a very talented athlete who often makes big-time plays.”

Ottawa Hills averages 44.4 ppg, and allows 9.8 ppg. The only Green Bear loss came to Ottawa Lake-Whiteford of Michigan back in week four, 26-21. 

OH has since reeled off eight wins in a row, allowing just 72 total points in that span. The Bears beat Margaretta 42-7 in round one of the playoffs. 

In an odd statistical quirk, OH has allowed exactly seven points in seven of their 11 wins.

The Pirates have outscored their opponents by a margin of 484-48 this season (40.3-4.0 ppg). In their last 10 games, Bluffton has posted eight shutouts and allowed just 20 points.

“We need to take care of the football, limit penalties and execute on third down,” said Richards of the keys to success vs. the Green Bears.

The winner will take on the victor between top seed Columbus Grove (10-2) and fourth seed Carey (10-2) November 17 in the region 22 title game at a neutral site TBA.

Notes and stats from Wynford 2nd round win
In the 38-0 win over Wynford last Friday, Bluffton ran just 33 plays and racked up 212 yards of total offense. The Pirates averaged 6.4 yards per play.

The Bluffton defense helped force five turnovers and limited the Royals to just 159 yards on 62 snaps for just 2.6 yards per play. 

Wynford put together two good drives, but both ended up in turnovers. The stingy Pirate defense bent a bit but never broke as they posted their eighth whitewash.

The Pirates rushed for 175 yards on 21 carries (8.3 yards per rush).  Wynford netted 114 ground yards on 39 rushes (2.9 per run). Both teams compiled 11 first downs.

Bluffton passed for 37 total yards. Garret Bogart completed four of eight aerials for 42 yards and a touchdown. 

Landen Worcester rushed for 100 yards on 11 carries with two TDs and a long run of 51.

Gavin Bogart netted 42 yards on four rushes with one TD. Griffin Stackhouse ran for 27 yards on three carries with one score.

Hayden Dearth added an eight-yard run. 

Braeden Jordan led the receiving corps with two catches for 32 yards and one TD. He also added a 47-yard punt return that set up the first Bluffton touchdown.

Stackhouse and Gavin Bogart added one reception apiece.

Royal QB Ashton Warren completed eight of 19 passes for just 45 yards and tossed three costly interceptions.

Quinn Eachus led the Pirate defense with two pickoffs, and he was in on 14 tackles with 12 assists.

Carson Kruse also made 12 assisted stops and one solo tackle. Dearth and Ian Rieman each recorded a sack and a tackle for loss.

Kruse and Marco Eiden each made a fumble recovery.

Bluffton converted four of seven third down tries, while Wynford was 4-13. The Royals also went 2-4 on fourth down. 

Each team committed three penalties. The Pirates lost 18 yards in flags compared to 21 by Wynford, which ended its season 7-5.

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