BUCYRUS, OH- After a 31-13 win over previously undefeated Seneca East, the 6-2, 5-0 Wynford Royals find themselves on top of the Northern Ten standings with two weeks remaining in the regular season. But heading into Wednesday of last week that was in jeopardy. Wynford starting quarterback Wyatt Smith was ruled out of action with a broken leg apparently suffered the previous Saturday in a 28-16 loss to Lima Central Catholic. What now? Step up, Joel Griffin and Zach Houck.
"It was an opportunity for guys Friday night to step up and they took advantage of it," said Royals head coach Gabe Helbert. Really just felt great about what our kids did throughout the week in practice and their understanding of who we were going to be playing with and the quality of the opponent we were gonna play."
For Joel Griffin, it was about the players around him. "My teammates, my coaches helped me all week and gave me confidence. So it's all about them they helped me through the entire game."
Royals running back Zack Houck, split time at running back and wildcat quarterback. "It's kinda fun to bounce around and learn new positions because you only get one chance to play football. So it's fun to be able to play more than one."
Should the Royals win their final two games they will wrap up another N-10 championship in football. A trophy they have owned since the leagues' inception. This week Wynford will face Upper Sandusky at home. Though the Rams are 3-5, the Royals won't be looking past them. "Their quarterback is elusive he's fast and can make plays on his feet and he does a good job of keeping his eyes downfield," says Griffin. Upper is a good opponent they'll play us hard."
"In our opinion as a program, this is a championship game, " says Helbert. From this point forward they are all championship games. We've put ourselves in a position to control our own destiny. We really don't want to share the league championship with anybody if we can help it. Now we're in a position where we do control our own destiny and can win it outright."
The Royals will close out the regular season next week against Buckeye Central. Currently, Wynford sits in second place in Region 22 of Division Six. Wynford is gunning for their 16th appearance in the OHSAA playoffs, more than any other Mansfield area program. The top eight teams from each region advance to the postseason at the end of week ten with the top four at home in week one.