By DOUG DONNELLY
OTTAWA LAKE – This is a season of many firsts for Whiteford coach Jason Mensing.
The Bobcats finished last week’s game against No. 1 ranked Sand Creek with seven freshman playing significant amount of time. And, this week, the Bobcats will host 0-3 Pittsford which brings a split-T offense to Ottawa Lake, something Mensing has never coached against.
“In 20 years, I’ve never faced it,” he said. “It’s an offense that comes from southern Texas and teams have had a lot of success with it there. It’s a dangerous offense.”
Friday marks the first time the Bobcats have faced Pittsford as a member of the Tri-County Conference. The Wildcats played in the Southern Central Athletic Association the last several years but nearly all of the league’s football teams have decided to play 8-Man football. Pittsford wanted to remain an 11-man program so they joined the TCC for football.
“They’ve got a great program history, tough kids and I think they really fit into our league,” Mensing said. “They are a little like us. They have some tough, talented young players. They’ll test us.”
Pittsford has been to the state playoffs in 12 of the past 16 years. They won a state title in 1996, then opened the 1997 season by beating Whiteford 21-6. It was the first meeting between the two schools. The Wildcats won the first five games in the series, but the Bobcats have won 5 of the past 9 meetings, dating from 2002 to 2010.
Pittsford has struggled in their first three TCC games, losing to Sand Creek, Summerfield and Britton Deerfield. Those three opponents have outscored the Wildcats 117-7.
Last week the Bobcats were tied with the Aggies early, but the veteran Sand Creek squad pulled away for the victory. Whiteford ran 71 plays, making 15 first downs and controlling the clock. But the Aggies finished with 448 yards of offense on 36 plays.
Whiteford quarterback Shea Ruddy finished the game with 162 yards passing, including a fourth quarter touchdown pass of 15 yards to Jack Andrews.
Devon Shaw led the Bobcats with 89 yards on 32 attempts. Luke Masserant was Whiteford’s leading receiver with 72 yards on four receptions. Clay Speweik caught three passes for Whiteford. Levi Hillard led the Bobcat defense with eight tackles.
Entering Friday’s game against Pittsford, Ruddy has 399 yards passing while Cole Giesige leads the team in rushing with 248 yards rushing. Shaw is second on the team with 224 yards. Speweik has caught 11 passes for 131 yards. Hillard leads the Whiteford defense with 23 tackles and Noah Bauman has 5.5 tackles for loss.
The Bobcats hope to rebound against the Wildcats. It’s the final regular season home game of the year. According to TCC policy, tickets are still limited to the allotment given to each participant in the game – including players, cheerleaders, and band members.