Hard-hitting and jam-packed, Minster opens its season with an impressive, and emotional, shutout over rival Fort Loramie.
Minster – Round 15 of the Battle of route 66 played out at Minster’s Memorial Field Friday night with the Wildcats prevailing 20–0 before a large, and enthusiastic crowd on a night that was made for football.
Unlike the 2016 opener, there were no elements to battle Friday (rain and lightning), as the backyard rivals renewed their rivalry that began in 2005, when, ironically Whit Parks, the current Fort Loramie coach, was calling the shots for the Wildcats. When the gun sounded Friday the orange and black came out on the winning side for the fifth consecutive time, including play-off years in 2011 and 2015, to take a 10–5 series lead.
Both head coaches, Parks and Geron Stokes, were somewhat prophetic prior to kick-off in looking at how the contest might play out. Each felt it was critical to stay away from injury. But while there were no major injuries on either side, Fort Loramie was plagued with players cramping in the latter parts of the third quarter and into the fourth.
“ We simply were playing with too many young kids in critical stages of the game,” bemoaned Parks, “as some of our starters were cramping up.”
On the other side of the field Minster Head Coach Geron Stokes applauded the conditioning of his team.
“It is a tribute to our seniors,” says Stokes, as he complimented them for the leadership exhibited throughout the off-season and summer practice. “We knew that we would not play a perfect game tonight, but it was important to limit mistakes, play aggressive, and see how fast some of our first-time starters would grow up.”
To the dismay of the Redskins some Wildcats grew up very quickly while riding the horse named Jared Huelsman.
The senior signal caller was a dominant force on both sides of the ball as he took control of things. For the game he was 15–22 passing for 163 yards with one interception, and he nearly equaled his passing yards on the ground as he rushed for 143 yards on 24 carries.
Coach Whit Parks expressed some concern going into the game regarding Minster’s read option and his concern was well-founded.
“Defensively we must be very disciplined to stop their QB,” said Parks. “If we do that, and make some plays offensively, this will be a great game.”
Though the final numbers are a bit lopsided, Fort Loramie was not without its chances to make it a much closer game. On two separate occasions they were inside the five yard line only to be denied by the Minster defense.
After Minster scored the initial touchdown in the game on a Jared Huelsman short run, the Redskins came roaring back as Mike Hoying went on a 57 yard scamper to the Wildcat six.
After calling a timeout to set up for the possible game tying score it was almost as if some of the Wildcats, including Jared Huelsman, were in the Fort Loramie huddle. Hoying was the ball carrier, and Huelsman was the defender. The score remained 7–0, with Minster getting possession on the three. From there, Minster ran out the clock to end the half.
The start of the second half looked like Minster would methodically put the game away, but Loramie DB Nick Brandewie had other ideas as he picked off a Huelsman pass at the 6:03 mark of the third quarter.
With new life the Redskins quickly moved into position once again to tie the game as a halfback pass from Brandewie to Mescher on a 4th and four moved the ‘Skins to the two yard line. The drive would die there as the Jared Huelsman once again knifed into the backfield and inflict a five yard loss on the Skins, followed by an incomplete pass, effectively ending the threat.
Still not content with his night’s work, Huelsman picked up a Loramie fumble on the ensuing possession and rumbled 46 yards for another score, giving the ‘Cats a 13–0 lead after the missed point with 7:22 remaining.
The knockout was administered on the next Fort possession as safety Austin Brown got his first interception of the year, and the Wildcats took the ball down the field – and time off the clock – for their third score of the game, and first win of the season.
With nine weeks remaining in the season both coaches remain keenly aware of what lies ahead.
For the Redskins Whit Parks simply stated, “We just have to get better at doing certain things, eliminate some mistakes, and be able to keep our key players on the field. All these things we can do.”
“But make no mistake about it, Minster is a very fine football team and we knew that coming in,” he concluded.
For his part, Geron Stokes was most pleased how not a single player let adversity affect their play.
“We have tremendous senior leadership and I think that was reflected on the field tonight,” says Stokes, “But there is a lot of football to be played and we know what’s out there.”
Next week finds Fort Loramie hosting first-time opponent Greenon in their home opener, while the Wildcats hit the road to Miami County where they’ll meet perennial Cross County power, Covington.