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The Daily



09-18-03: Celina gets break in the schedule

The last two weeks, Celina has had to face the top two offenses in the Western Buckeye League in Shawnee and Kenton and on both occasions, the Bulldogs lost.
Celina (2-2, 1-2 WBL) appears to have a break in the schedule this week as Elida comes to Celina Stadium on Friday night.
Elida, statistically, has the second worst offense in the WBL averaging just 9.0 points per game (just ahead of Van Wert at 8.0 ppg.) while also having the worst defense in the league allowing an average of 33.3 ppg.
The poor offense and even worse defense has resulted in a 1-3 mark for Elida this season and 0-3 record in league play.
Elida, which was just 5-55 over the past six years, began the season in rare fashion as the Allen County Bulldogs started the season with a 21-14 win over Lima Central Catholic. The win over the Thunderbirds ended a 22-game losing streak for Elida dating back to Oct. 13, 2000.
“It certainly was a big win for us because the kids were really feeling the pressure from the losing streak,” said Elida head coach Chris Etzler. “It was really good to get that off of their backs and it was even better for the younger kids to get a taste of winning.”
After week one, it has been a struggle as Elida has been outscored 119-15 by Kenton, Ottawa-Glandorf and Lima Bath the last three weeks.
“Our kids have a good attitude and each week they want to succeed so bad,” said Etzler. “We’re a young team, but I think that we’re getting better.”
The one bright spot throughout the season thus far for Elida has been the play of quarterback Justin Dunlap. Dunlap (6-1, 175, senior) is fourth in the WBL in total offense averaging 163.2 yards per game. Dunlap is 47-for-90 on the year for 480 yards with one touchdown and six interceptions while also adding 173 rushing yards and four scores.
“The strength for Justin is his versatility because he can throw the ball well and also run the ball effectively as well,” explained Etzler. “He’s the fastest kid on our team and we try to use all of his abilities.”
Andrew Bailey (6-3, 170, senior) is the top target for Dunlap in the Elida multi-receiver offensive scheme with 19 receptions (third in WBL) for 222 receiving yards (fifth in WBL). Dan Rodgers (5-10, 180, sophomore) and Mark Leugers have combined for 21 catches for 192 yards and one score.
“Dunlap is an excellent athlete and we have to try and control their combination of Dunlap to Bailey because it’s a dangerous combination,” said Fell.
Defensively, free safety Tyson Mathias (6-0, 165, junior) and Tyler Smith (6-1, 185, junior) are the duo that Celina must keep an eye on as both Mathias and Smith rank in the top five in the WBL in tackling with a total of 90 tackles between the two.
For Celina, injuries continue to mount as the latest involves quarterback Joe Kanney who will miss Friday’s game and the rest of the season due to a broken left hand. The replacement will be Mr. Versatility Brian Gagle who will play his third offensive position in as many weeks (wide receiver, running back).
“With that type of injury where it’s at, he can’t take a snap and he’ll be in a cast for five to six weeks,” stated Fell. “He broke it in the fourth quarter against Kenton trying to brace his fall on a tackle. He’s a three-year starter who has worked his butt off and it’s tough to see that happen to a kid like that. It’s a blow to him and a blow to the team.”
Gagle played a lot of running back last week due to leading rusher Kyle Schott being lost for the season with a broken ankle. Brady Bonifas, who has gained 210 yards on the ground this year, will now handle a majority of the rushing chores for Celina while Gagle will be a constant threat to run the option at quarterback.
“Brian is an excellent quarterback when it comes to running the option,” pointed out Fell. “He’s a great athlete that can makes plays when the ball is in his hands. He’ll get better and better as he gets more time at quarterback.”
Also out with an injury this week will be Ryan Byers who replaced Gagle at wide receiver last week. Byers will miss Friday’s game due to a concussion and will be replaced by sophomore Jordan Hueker.
The big key for the home team will be whether Celina can muster enough plays in the passing game with Tim Homan, Jon Beougher and Hueker to keep Elida from stacking the line of scrimmage against the run.
“We have to get something out of our passing game to keep the defense honest and that will be a key for us this week since Brian has only had a few days working at quarterback,” concluded Fell.


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