By GARY R. RASBERRY
It appears the option is THE option for the Celina Bulldogs.
With the style of play changed due to injuries, the Bulldogs
went to option with success in last week’s win over Elida.
Now a challenge against a formidable foe is in the offering
on Friday as the Bulldogs head to Lima to face a strong Bath
squad in Western Buckeye League action.
For the new-look Bulldogs, the 38-10 win over Elida was something
of a boost given the losses of the leading running back Kyle
Schott and starting quarterback Joe Kanney to season-ending
injuries. The injury to Kanney prompted a change from the typical
veer-offense to more of an option-based attack.
Brian Gagle, the utility man of the Celina lineup the past two
seasons, moved into the quarterback role and handled the triple-threat
option with success, especially in the second half. Gagle ran
for 85 yards and passed for 74 more (on 6-of-15 passing) and
got strong support from Brady Bonifas (129 yards rushing, three
scores) and Tim Homan (50 yards receiving, one score).
“Brian did a nice job out there,” said Celina coach
Mike Fell. “The offensive line did a great job giving
Brian enough time to throw and to open some holes for the runners.”
Veteran Bath coach Jim Ehresman doesn’t think the change
in backs or offense will affect his team’s planning for
“We know Gagle is an athlete, and athletes can throw the
ball,” said Ehresman. “We know Celina is a good
team. We saw them run the option with Kanney in the films we
have seen. We expect them to dive, to run and to pass.”
The Wildcats, 4-1 overall and 3-1 in the WBL, boast a strong
balanced rushing and passing game that has Jim Ehresman’s
team among the leaders in the WBL.
“We knew that coming into the early part of the season,
Shawnee and Kenton were going to be tough games,” said
Ehresman. “We felt good coming out of those two games
1-1 (Shawnee beat Bath 21-6, before getting a last second touchdown
to beat Kenton 27-26). It proved that we could be a good team.”
Fell is very complimentary of the effort the Wildcats have put
out this season.
Quarterback Kyle Mason has guided the Wildcats to big wins,
most notably the last-second 27-26 win over Kenton in week three
of the season. Mason is completing 51 percent of his passes
(62-for-120) for 625 yards.
When passing, the target of choice is Ryan Reindel as the 5-11
senior has six touchdown catches this season to go with 294
yards receiving. When Reindel is covered, Paul Butterfield (223
yards, one score) and Brent Martin (118 yards on nine catches)
provided some key yards. On the ground, Nick Sanchez has rushed
for 224 yards.
On defense, the Wildcats allow just 10.6 points per game after
shutting out the Ottawa-Glandorf Titans last week. Bath is third
in pass defense, allowing just 76.8 yards a game and fourth
in rush defense in allowing just 97.2 yards a game.
“We feel both teams, offense and defense, have playing
well as a group,” said Ehresman. “The defensive
coaches have done a great good preparing the team this season
and getting them motivated. Our goal is to keep them off the
field as much as possible to have them at their best.”
The rush defense numbers might be the key concern for Fell.
Celina racked up 269 yards on the ground against an Elida team
that was last in the WBL in defense.
“We’re going to have to attack them with the rush
because that’s what is working for us right now,”
said Fell. “That is a concern since the rush is something
Bath attacks very well.”