Patrick Henry is off to a 2-0 start, but veteran Patriots football coach Bill Inselmann said the upcoming games will determine if PH is a legitimate contender for the Northwest Ohio Athletic League title.
The Patriots have opened the season with wins over Swanton (21-13) and Evergreen (51-7), but face a tougher challenge this week on the road at Bryan (1-1). Inselmann said this is just the start of a tough path with home games against Wauseon and Liberty Center in the following weeks.
“We are starting the meat of our schedule now,” said Inselmann. “We were very blessed to have the two games we had. It was wonderful for our young team. It allowed the kids to ease into the first part of the season. Starting now it gets a lot more difficult.”
Bryan opened the season with a 37-8 loss to NWOAL favorite Archbold and pulled out a 14-3 win over Delta last week.
Defense has led the Golden Bears so far this season, especially last week against the Panthers. Bryan held Delta to 215 yards of total offense. The Bears’ Jaylin Damron had three interceptions against the Panthers last week, including a 30-yard pick-six.
On offense, Bryan was limited to 157 yards of offense against Delta, with 84 yards coming on a second-quarter TD pass from Ethan Wasson to Caleb Kepler. In the opening week loss to Archbold, Korbin Shepard rushed for 70 yards on 16 carries for the Bears.
“I feel their strength is their defense,” said Inselmann. “They have played very good defense and they definitely will have a size advantage over us. Their offense does a nice job mixing things up and they have a big receiver (Titus Rohrs) that we have to keep an eye on.
“We have not had an offensive turnover yet,” added Inselmann. “If we can continue to take care of the football and the defense keeps improving, that will go a long way to keeping us in the game.”
Inselmann said he saw big improvement from the Patriots from Week 1 to Week 2, but there is still work to be done and injuries have hampered PH this week in practice.
“This week we did make some gains, but that said we have been bit a little by the injury bug,” said Inselmann. “We need to get healthy. We have had to move kids around, not allowing us to have a lot of continuity at a lot of positions.”
Gavin Jackson has done a good job leading the offense for Patrick Henry. The sophomore quarterback is 19 of 31 passing for 258 yards with three TDs and no interceptions through two weeks. He also has 108 yards rushing on 19 carries and another score.
Corbin Johnson leads the ground attack with 132 yards on 29 carries with two touchdowns, while Clayton Feehad is the leading receiver with seven catches for 99 yards and two TDs.
On defense, Patrick Henry is allowing 94.5 yards rushing and 169.5 passing yards per game. They have recovered one fumble and two interceptions.
Noah Kistner leads the defense with 14 tackles, including two sacks and an interception. Mason Schwiebert has 13 tackles, while Caleb Rosengarten has 12 tackles, including a sack.
“Our defense has gotten better, we are tackling better,” said Inselmann. “We are going to be playing some better teams coming up.”
Kick-off Friday night at Golden Bears Stadium is set for 7 p.m.