Saturday, September 4th, 2010
Celina earns signature victory
Green and White beat Defiance for first time since 1998
By Ryan Hines
DEFIANCE - The Celina coaching staff has been searching for a signature win that could spark a turnaround in the football program.
Celina may have gotten that win on Friday night after beating Defiance for the first time since 1998 as the Green and White rolled to a dominant 23-0 victory.
Not only is it Celina's first win over Defiance since a 49-26 triumph in 1998, but it is also the first shutout for the Green and White since a 32-0 whipping of Van Wert on Sept. 8, 2006.
"We are really happy with the way the kids went out there and played tonight," said Celina head coach Jared Rolfes, who was a sophomore at Celina the last time the Green and White beat Defiance. "I think this can be that marquee win that we have been searching for to help turnaround our program. It should help boost the confidence of our kids."
"We played aggressive on defense and did it for four quarters," said Celina defensive coordinator Bryant Miller. "That's the first time that I have seen a Celina defense play so well for four quarters. We kept it simple and our kids just executed. It was a great performance and something that we can build on."
It was a dominant performance by the Celina defense which forced six turnovers and held Defiance to just 103 total yards of offense.
"Defensively, we were outstanding tonight," said Rolfes. "That is the best I have seen a Celina team play defense going way back to when I played 10 years ago. We were organized on defense and we played hard."
"They came to play. It was pretty simple. No football game is ever won without good play on the offensive and defensive lines and I thought that Celina played well in both of those areas," said Defiance head coach Jerry Buti. "Turnovers killed us and it spells doom. We never got them off the ball all night. You have to score to win games and we are struggling to do that. I am happy for Jared and their kids."
While Celina's defense was dominating, Kahl Knapke had a career night in all phases of the game. Knapke caught six passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns, returned a punt 70 yards for another score and also intercepted a pass on defense.
"Kahl is a playmaker and that's all you have to say about him," said Rolfes. "He plays with a lot of confidence. I always tell him when I see him in the halls at school, 'to be a player,' and he certainly did that tonight."
Buti pointed to Knapke's punt return for a touchdown as the biggest play of the game.
"The punt was huge, because it was only 7-0 at the time before his return. We punt it to the middle of the field and we didn't have contain on the play and he broke it open," said Buti. "You could feel that coming. I would have put money in Vegas that he was going to break one and he did. You could just feel it coming. He's a dangerous player."
Celina opened the scoring late in the first quarter when Knapke capped an 11-play drive with a 36-yard TD reception from quarterback Braden Billger. It was a bubble-screen play on a pass that traveled just two yards, but Knapke zig-zagged through the Defiance secondary for the score.
The score stayed 7-0 in favor of Celina until Knapke's highlight-reel punt return for a score just before halftime. Defiance punted the ball after its fourth three-and-out possession of the first half and Knapke corralled the ball at the Celina 30-yard line. Knapke followed the wall of blockers to the right side before reversing field and then outran the Defiance defenders all the way to the end zone at the 1:22 mark of the second quarter for a 13-0 Celina lead at halftime.
"The guys were making big blocks in front of me and I saw an opening and went after it," said Knapke. "I just kept telling myself to get into the end zone and I was able to do it."
A Brian Donovan fumble recovery at Defiance's 19-yard line set up Celina's third TD of the game. Knapke capped a five-play Celina drive with a five-yard touchdown reception in the back of the end zone that put Celina on top 20-0. It was a perfect pass on a rollout by Billger, who finished the game 23-of-42 passing for 220 yards with two TD passes to Knapke.
It took only one play for Celina to get the ball back as freshman defensive back Braelen Bader intercepted Defiance's Kurt Belau, who tossed four interceptions in just 12 total pass attempts in the game.
Celina turned to the run in an effort to take time off the clock while driving for the game's final score. Jalen Knous and Andy Sutter led the Celina rushing attack on the drive as the duo totaled 41 yards on seven carries before Bader booted a 20-yard field goal for a 23-0 Celina lead. Knous, a 6-1 and 255-pound fullback, rumbled for a team-high 54 yards in the game on just eight carries.
"We went to our load formation and handed the ball off to our big fullback and he finished it out for us," said Rolfes.
Celina will look to make it two wins in a row on Friday when Wapakoneta (2-0) comes calling to Celina Stadium.