The 2021 football season was a season of lessons for the Minster football team under the first-year guidance of Seth Whiting.
The dues paid in 2021 in going 1-9 - with the win coming against the non-OHSAA club team Columbus Crusaders - have paid off as the the Wildcats are 4-2 heading into Week Seven action against Parkway in Rockford.
A win would give the Wildcats its first five-win season since 2020 and put the team in line for its first winning regular season since going 9-2 in 2019.
Awaiting the Wildcats is a Parkway team that has two big wins over North Central - which is 4-2 in its first varsity season and in line to make the playoffs in Division VII Region 26 - and St. Henry, but has struggled in its four losses with two shutouts. Still, Parkway is still in the running for a playoff spot in the 16-team format.
Some insight into Friday's game:
Sophomore quarterback Brogan Stephey has blossomed into one of the more prolific offensive threats in the area this season.
Stephey already has over 1,000 yards passing, going 87-of-139 for 1,179 yards with six touchdowns and just one interception and rushing for 497 yards with 10 touchdowns.
In addition to his impressive offensive numbers, he has also contributed as the Wildcats' kicker. Stephey is 17-of-19 on point-afters and 2-for-4 on field goals. Stephey leads the MAC in scoring with 91 total points.
The Minster offense has cranked up its play after getting shut out 34-0 by Marion Local in Week Three. The Wildcats are averaging 37 points per game in the last three contests.
Parkway running back/linebacker Eddie Nichols leads the team in rushing (498 yards, four TDs) and tackles (60) on the season.
Parkway quarterback Fletcher Smith started out strong but has struggled over the past two games in facing powers Versailles and Coldwater.
Smith is closing in on 1,000 yards passing (805 yards) and id still completing 55% of his passes, but over the last two games, Fletcher has connected just over 45% of his passes for 99 yards, no touchdowns and an interception after connecting for six scores across the first four games.
Minster is plus-6 in turnover ratio (10 takeaways, four giveaways) on the season. Parkway is even (10 each) on the year with the Panthers struggling to hold on to the ball, committing eight fumbles.
With both teams looking to lock up playoff spots, the rest of the season will feature both teams playing differing fields.
Minster faces St. John's next week and still has to face Route 66 rival New Bremen (5-1 currently) and Versailles (4-2) in Weeks Nine and 10. The teams are a combined 11-7.
Parkway's home stretch features trips to Fort Recovery and Anna sandwiched around the home finale with St. John's. Parkway's final three foes are a combined 6-12.
Last Season: Landen Jordan passed for 217 yards and five touchdowns as the Titans shut out Celina 42-0 at Celina Stadium. The Bulldogs were held to just 144 yards of total offense.
About the Bulldogs: Celina has been hitting all cylinders in its four-game winning streak and its defense was rewarded by pitching its first shutout since 2014 in a 29-0 win over a Bath team that played better than its winless record showed. Landen Ackley continued his hot play on defense with two more interceptions to raise his season total to five.
About the Titans: After a solid first half against state-ranked Van Wert with the score tied at 10-all, O-G struggled in the second half to fall 31-16 in Ottawa. Peyton Kuhlman has taken over the snaps at quarterback the last two games and had thrown for 305 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions. Cy Rump is the main offensive threat, leading O-G in rushing (383 yards, three TDs) and second in receiving (15 catches for 215 yards).
Last Season: The Roughriders rushed for 386 yards in a 48-7 win over the Wildcats at Robinson Field.
About the Wildcats: Kenton's offense has struggled this season, only scoring more than two touchdowns once - in a 20-6 win over Bath to account for its only win in the campaign - and has been hold to single digits in four of the five losses. Sophomore quarterback Korbin Johnston has passed for 912 yards this season with just three touchdowns and four interceptions. Kooper Johnston leads Kenton in receiving with 300 yards and a touchdown.
About the Roughriders: The Roughriders had 390 yards rushing in the 41-14 win over Shawnee last week in Allen County. St. Marys has four running backs with 299 or more yards this season as Aiden Hinkle puts himself in contention for WBL Offensive Back of the Year with 788 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Roughrider defense stepped up in scoring touchdowns via interception return and fumble recovery last week.
Last Meeting: The teams have not played in the regular season since 2019 when New Bremen posted a 21-7 win in St. Henry. The Cardinals defeated St. Henry 28-13 in in the 2020 Division VI playoffs en route to the program's first state championship
About the Redskins: St. Henry reached double figures in a game for the first time since a 34-10 loss to Archbold in Week Two but allowed 30 or more points for the second straight week. St. Henry has been able to move the ball, averaging 218 yards of total offense per game, but has allowed an average of 230.3 yards while committing 13 turnovers.
About the Cardinals: After suffering their first loss of the season in Week Five against Marion, New Bremen bounced back for a 41-13 win over Fort Recovery in Hunter Schaefer's big breakout game as the senior ran for a school-record-tying five touchdowns and scored 35 of the team's points (30 points via touchdown, five via extra point) to set a school record. The Cardinals continue to be efficient when it comes to turnovers, holding a plus-5 in turnover ratio (nine takeaways to just four giveaways).
Last Season: The Flyers posted the third of six shutouts on defense in a 30-0 win over the Indians at Booster Stadium. Marion held the Indians to just 105 yards of total offense. About the Indians: Fort Recovery was able to move the ball, but just not enough in taking the 41-13 loss to New Bremen in Auglaize County. The Indians had 282 yards of offense against New Bremen and held the ball for nearly 11 minutes longer, but could only score 13 points on 58 plays while the Cardinals put up 342 yards on just 39 plays.
About the Flyers: Marion continued to dominate the competition, scoring 20 points in the second half to pull past Versailles 27-7 in a highly-anticipated battle between two state champions from a season ago. Darren Meier had a breakout game on defense for Marion with eight tackles and a sack and Jake Topp added a pair of sacks of his own. The Flyers have recorded 13 sacks on the season to go with nine interceptions.
Last Season: Luke Sudhoff's two-yard touchdown run with just under nine minutes to play in regulation gave the Cavaliers a come from behind 21-14 win at Cavalier Stadium. Coldwater overcame three turnovers and a 14-0 deficit to get the win.
About the Cavaliers: The Cavaliers had an emotional 49-0 Homecoming win just two days after the death of Hall of Fame baseball coach Brian Harlamert. Coach Harlamert's son Evan scored twice in the first half. After allowing 21 points to Bellefontaine in Week Two, the Cavalier defense has giving up just 21 points over the last four games, including a pair of shutouts. Coldwater has outscored opponents 77-2 in the first quarter this season and 159-16 in the first half. Eight different players have touchdowns this season.
About the Blue Jays: St. John's snapped a four-game losing streak in picking up a 41-13 win at Anna last week. Running back Clay Paddubny rushed for 149 yards and two touchdowns as the Blue Jays scored 20 unanswered points to put the game out of reach.
Celina at Ottawa-Glandorf
Kenton at St. Marys
Wapakoneta at Elida
Defiance at Bath
Shawnee at Van Wert
Fort Recovery at Marion Local
Coldwater at St. John's
St. Henry at New Bremen
Minster at Parkway
Anna at Versailles