Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University where he pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeyes from 1971 through 1974. He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league umpire for seven seasons, working for the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA). He has written for numerous websites, and for the past fourteen years has served as columnist and photo editor for The Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press, in Lincoln Nebraska. His interests include history, support for amateur baseball, the outdoors, and he has a music degree from Ohio State University.

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After a thunder and lightning first half, St. Henry’s defense put the squeeze on Coldwater in the second half, forced four critical turnovers, and pulled Friday’s biggest surprise with a 21-14 win over the state’s #1 team.

St. Henry, OH – It’s tough to win a football game when your team self-destructs by coughing up the football, and that pretty much describes Friday night’s second half between St. Henry and Coldwater.

Holding a 21-14 halftime advantage, St. Henry’s defense got stingy in the second half, and forced four Coldwater turnovers that literally neutralized any chance of the Cavaliers scoring in the final 24 minutes.  And that’s how it ended – St. Henry 21, Coldwater 14 – the Redskins (5-2) knocking off the state’s #1-ranked team in Division VI, handing Coldwater its first loss of the season.

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Coldwater’s Chip Otten had little to say afterwards, speechless in comparison to other tough losses in the past.  There just wasn’t much to say.

“I felt good about what we were running, and they really weren’t stopping us,”  said Otten, shaking his head over his team’s miseries to hold onto the ball in the second half.  “We snapped the ball over the quarterback’s head, we fumbled an exchange, we had a couple of interceptions…four turnovers and obviously that’s not going to win you many football games.”

End of discussion.  It is what it is.

St. Henry’s Brad Luthman had even less to say, but he shouldn’t have been speechless over the way his team matched Coldwater point for point, big play for big play in the first half…and then shut out the defending champs in the second half, or at least contributed to it.  The Redskins did give up 289 yards of offense, but timing is everything, they say, especially with turnovers.

If you believe in omens St. Henry began with some flare, running back Owen Lefeld ripping through the line on the first play from scrimmage to bolt 40 yards and put the ‘Skins in Coldwater territory before the band got seated.  Nine plays later Jaden Lange scored on a 9-yard run at 6:17 to put them ahead, 7-0.

Coldwater scored on its third play from scrimmage…a 53-yard bomb from Reece Dellinger to Tyler Schwieterman.

Omens work both ways, of course, and on Coldwater’s third play from scrimmage after receiving the kickoff quarterback Reece Dellinger hit Tyler Schwieterman with a 53-yard bomb – as Coldwater is want to do – behind the St. Henry secondary to tie the score at 7-7, just 27 seconds after Lange’s touchdown.

Coldwater would go ahead at the 10:45 point of the second quarter with an 8-play drive, culminated by Dellinger running it in from three yards out to take a 14-7 lead.

The omens were working overtime, as was Owen Lefeld.  The 6’2″, 210 pound senior would carry the ball 31 times on the night, and there was little that Coldwater could do to stop him as he racked up 173 yards and averaged nearly six yards a carry.  He quickly helped St. Henry down the field on an ensuing drive that saw him tie the score with a three-yard run with 7:21 left, 14-14.

Coldwater would fail to move the ball on their next drive, punting it away to St. Henry with enough time remaining, 1:50, for quarterback Bryce Brookhart to go over the top of Coldwater’s secondary, find Harrison Wendel wide open and waiting for the football.  Harrison took it in from 38 yards out for that 21-14 halftime lead.

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The Cavaliers would get the second half kickoff, and their misadventures began almost immediately.  Dellinger moved them to near midfield, and then…the ball was snapped over his head, and St. Henry’s Ben Moorman fell on it to stop that drive.

St. Henry wasn’t moving it, either, with the exception of Lefeld, and punted it back to Coldwater.  Dellinger again had the Cavs on the move when he put too much air under a pass intended for Tyler Schwieterman and Jaden Lange got to it first for the interception, and turnover #2.

St. Henry’s Jaden Lange had a big night…a pair of interceptions and this 30-yard reception to extend a first half drive.

Coldwater would have the first possession of the fourth quarter and lost that possession on the second snap from scrimmage when Dellinger and Isaac Fullenkamp flummoxed the handoff at their own 30 yard line – turnover #3.

The Redskins would take their turn to try and score after the turnover, but turned it over on downs on fourth down and 4 yards to go when Bryce Brookhart threw an illegal pass as he crossed the line of scrimmage, wiping out what would have been a drive-extending first down.

That gave Coldwater yet another opportunity to drive and score, and Dellinger quickly moved them to the St. Henry 34 yard line and had the ‘Skins backpedaling.  But he threw an errant pass on a slant intended for Marcel Blasingame, and into the arms of Lange at 5:02 for his second interception of the half…and another drive killed.

St. Henry would get the ball and eat up the next four minutes, with an apparent 40 yard touchdown run by Lefeld nullified by a holding call.

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Coldwater would get the ball back one more time with a minute left and no timeouts.  Dellinger misfired on four consecutive attempts downfield, St. Henry would take over on downs, and they ran out the clock.

St. Henry did as much as you could possibly do without scoring in the second half to thwart – frustrate – the #1 team in the state, and a team that has had their number for the past twenty five years.  Friday’s win marked the second time since 1996 that St. Henry has beaten Coldwater, and you would think that Redskins’ coach Brad Luthman would have had at least something to say.

St. Henry’s Bryce Brookhart (right) draws a bead on a pass intended for the Cavaliers’ Tyler Schwieterman.

He was, in fact, ‘speechless’, and declined, over content from a Press Pros story by writer Bruce Hooley, covering their August 29 loss earlier this season to Fort Frye.

But he could have talked about Owen Lefeld’s remarkable night, and his contributing half of the Redskins’ 341 total yards with his 31 totes and 173 yards.

He could have pointed out the efficient play of quarterback Bryce Brookhart, who completed four of his six passes for 94 yards, a touchdown, ran for another 33 yards, and had no turnovers.

He could have taken some satisfaction over the play of ball-hawking Jaden Lange, and his two interceptions that killed Coldwater drives in the second half.

Or the punting of Bennett Gels, whose five kicks averaged 39 yards and kept flipping the field position on the Cavaliers.

But he didn’t, and that’s okay.  Differences are part of this business.

For that matter, Chip Otten could have said those things, too, but his post-game thoughts were preoccupied with turnovers, and probably some internal woulda’, coulda’, shoulda’.

No caption necessary…a post-game hug and the scoreboard tells the story of what just happened.

He did take a moment to project forward, to next week and beyond.  The Cavaliers are now 6-1, face Minster, Marion Local and Parkway the next three weeks, and still have a shot at a share of the MAC title.

“Throughout the year we were minus 2 in turnover ratio coming into this game,”  said Otten.  “So it has been a problem for us, but previously we’ve found a way to make enough plays.  Against a good team [like St. Henry] it got us.

“Now we have to regroup this week.  We’ll try to convince ’em that we can still get a share of the league title, roll into the playoffs, and if we can win the last three we finish 9-1, and that’s not terrible.”

St. Henry, by the way, can roll into the playoffs with an 8-2 mark…if they can beat Anna, Versailles, and Delphos St. John the next three weeks.

If they do…that’ll be something to talk about!

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