HUBER HEIGHTS — Last year, Wayne’s dream of becoming the third football team to go undefeated was crushed at Centerville 19-14 as Wayne closed out the regular season at 9-1 on a cold, windy and rainy night.
Wayne coach Jay Minton said what stands out to him about that game is that “bitter taste in your mouth.”
“We felt like we should have won last year and we played horrible,” he said. “It probably, by far, was our worst game of the season. So, you’d like to redeeem yourself a little bit in a big game like that that means so much to the community.”
Minton said that loss “kind of jumped started our playoffs as it shocked us a little bit” as Wayne eventually emerged as the state runner up.
Minton said Wayne has grown since then.
“We’ve learned not to worry about the uncontrollables,” he said. “You can’t control the weather, you just have to know we have to prepare a little bit better for if the bad conditions happen and it can happen at any time.”
Minton said that Wayne’s defense has been playing “really great” while Centerville has been in some offensive shootouts this season.
“It’s probably one of the better defense that we’ve had production wise,” he said. “It’s probably one of the better offenses that Centerville’s had as far as numbers. They can really put up some numbers and they can score. That’s going to be a battle. Our offense is pretty good and their defense has given up a bunch of points. We feel like our defense, hopefully, will stand up better than maybe some of the defenses that they’ve seen and so hopefully, we can present them some problems that we can slow their machine down a little bit — their scoring machine.”
In the GWOC Central Division, Wayne and Centerville are tied for the lead with 4-0 marks. On the season, Centerville is 6-3 while Wayne is 9-0.
Centerville lost its first two games at Fairfield 35-32 and 50-49 at home to Springboro. They defeated Lebanon 40-35 and Trotwood 36-33 while falling to Elder 56-39. In the last four weeks, they defeated Fairmont 53-21, Northmont 62-41, Beavercreek 35-28 and Springfield 35-32.
Meanwhile, Wayne has four shutouts including a season opening 38-0 victory against Canada Prep Academy. In the last four weeks vs. GWOC Central Division opponents, the Warriors have given up only six points defeating Springfield 35-0, Fairmont 48-6, Northmont 38-0 and Beavercreek 48-0.
Wayne’s closest game this year by a 24-22 win at Moeller followed by a 28-9 win against Lakota West, 49-7 vs. Troy and 49-14 at Miamisburg.
Minton said Centerville has to win this game to make the playoffs, but if Wayne does not win, the Warriors would be on the bubble as far as hosting a first round playoff game. Also on the line is the Greater Western Ohio Conference “bragging rights.” Minton said there is incentive “to make sure we play our best game.”
“We’ve challenged this team that they can make history here,” said Minton. “There’s only been two undefeated teams in the history of Wayne football in 1987 and 1989. Both of those years, they were undefeated, but they lost in the first round of the playoffs, each year. This group has a chance to finish it and be 10-0…and then hopefully do something in the playoffs. They’re such a determined group of young people. Very confident, but not overconfident.”
Minton said the team “plays together” as evidenced by the defense.
“I don’t know that we’ve ever had a defense play this together and feed off of each other more than this group has,” said Minton. ‘Offensively, we’ve got a lot of weapons, obviously, and our guys just know how to use it. I think offensively, the selfishness sometimes gets in the way of some teams and slows them down and we haven’t had that, so it’s a real blessing. It’s one of those things like last year, we hope we can just keep playing and playing and playing. It’s a fun group.”
Minton said he’s ecstatic that Wayne is 9-0 at this point.
“We are so ecstatic because of the way that these young people have developed into one — in a unit, feeding off of each other,” said Minton. “Our leadership — we lost some great, great kids last year and to have these kids step up and be productive just says so much for the way that they’ve handled themselves, the way they matured.”
The long wait since last year’s regular season ending loss is finally coming to an end as Wayne coaches and players hope to get rid of that “bitter taste” that has hung around since then when Wayne and Centerville clash at 7 p.m. Friday night at Wayne.