Know your foe: Eagles use ball control to subdue opponents
The Big Walnut Eagles will make their ninth postseason appearance on Friday night, but first since 2011. The Delaware Countians own an impressive 15-7 postseason mark, including a Division III state championship in 2007 and a regional championship in 2008.
First year mentor Rob Page is no stranger to the postseason, having found success while a head coach at Reading High School in Cincinnati and as an assistant at Turpin High School, also in Cincinnati.
Senior quarterback Jagger Barnett (6-4, 215) is the key cog. An excellent passer, he has completed 72 of 116 passes for 748 yards with nine touchdowns and only four interceptions. He can use his legs as well where he’s gained 191 yards and run for two touchdowns on 59 attempts.
The offense averages 25 points and 353 yards per game with 228 coming on the ground and 125 per game coming via the aerial route.
Caden Williams (6-0, 190, senior) runs with both speed and power. He’s rushed for 770 yards and seven touchdowns on 146 carries. Gordon Rond (5-8, 175, senior) is a capable back-up. Rond has gained 306 yards and scored once on 47 attempts.
The receiving corps. is young, but is led by Grant Coulson’s (6-1, 180, sophomore) 277 yards and four touchdowns on 26 catches. Classmate Cam Gladden (5-9, 155) adds 21 receptions for 138 yards and a score while senior Sam Fortney (6-2, 180, senior) has made 11 grabs for 179 yards and three scores. Jake Bales (6-1, 180, senior) adds four catches for 36 yards and a touchdown.
Jake Ross (6-3, 200, senior) is a tight end who can flex as a wing or slot receiver. AJ Leasure (6-2, 215, senior) and Matt Fry (5-8, 185, senior) will also see time at tight end and are very effective run blockers.
Up front Cole Wecker (6-5, 245, senior) anchors the line at right tackle with Aiden Hernandez (6-2, 225, junior) and Grant Ferris (6-2, 240, junior) playing guard. Wyatt Lenz (5-11, 215, junior) is the center and Adam Wilhelm (5-9, 175, junior) is the left tackle.
Defensively, the scarlet and gold line-up with four down linemen and three linebackers while allowing 16 points per game. They are allowing just 111 yards per game on the ground and 136 per game through the air.
Leasure is the team’s top tackler from his linebacker post where he is joined by Rond and Fry. Lucas Tindall (6-2, 190, junior) will rotate with Fry at outside linebacker while Lawrence O’Malley (5-10, 195, junior) will rotate with the two inside linebackers.
Up front Ethan Clawson (6-4, 190, sophomore) and Gage Sutton (6-3, 210, senior) are the ends with Mahlon Spangler (5-10, 225, senior) and Christian Takatch (6-2, 210, junior) playing on the interior line.
In the secondary Luke Pritchard (5-11, 180, junior) and Brady Hershberger (6-3, 200, senior) are the safeties with Justin Embaugh (5-8, 170, senior) and Garrett Stover (6-0, 175, freshman) playing cornerback. John Embaugh (5-7, 170, senior) and Zach Willoughby-Neal (5-9, 175, senior) add depth.
Willoughby-Neal or Gladden will handle the kicking duties while Wilhelm will do the punting. Gladden, Stover, and Dom Salazar (5-9, 150, junior) will all return kicks.