Falcons’ Schiets, Bench just want to get on the field

J. Patrick Eaken

Once the Big Ten announced it would play football this fall, the Mid-American Conference began discussions, also, but still no announcement as far. 

If there is no fall football for the MAC, spring football is the current plan. But that still leaves two local Bowling Green State University players, 6-foot-3, 240-pound redshirt freshman defensive lineman Andrew Bench and 5-11, 220 pound redshirt freshman linebacker Justin Schiets, in limbo.

“All I want to do is play the game I love,” Bench said.

Despite redshirting his freshman year, Bench played in four games and scored a safety in the Falcons’ win over Morgan State.

“They had the ball down on the 2-yard line and the quarterback started rolling out my way, and I beat my man inside. I just had a free shot at the quarterback,” Bench said. “Everyone was happy, my coaches were congratulating me, and I actually met my defensive coach halfway on the field, that’s how excited he was.”

For Bench, a first team Division V All-Ohioan at Genoa, he’s learning the difference between high school and college football.

“Everyone is working so you can’t take a break. No matter how big you were in high school you’re not the biggest kid in college football,” Bench said.

Bench says Genoa coach Paul Patterson and offensive line, linebacker and defensive coach Ben Ohlemacher were big influences on getting him the full scholarship at BGSU.

“Going to back to my linebacker coach, Coach ‘O’ I call him — he put me through tough situations,” Bench said. “The same with Paul Patterson — they challenged me mentally and physically to always make the right decisions. I just felt like going through that has gotten me to the point where I know how to read defenses and offenses. I know what is going to happen, and I know situations and I can push through anything that these coaches can throw at me.”

He has also had to learn a much more sophisticated defense at BGSU.

“Really, high school defense seems complicated in a way, but it’s really not. College defense is difficult,” Bench said. “If someone isn’t doing something right, the offense is scoring. So every little detail on the defense and the offensive line, every key position, is needed to be able to play defense.”

Schiets, who was raised in Woodville, had a similar experience at Central Catholic, where he helped the team to a 36-5 record in three seasons, including two regional championships.

“It was definitely some of the best moments of my high school career. It has to do a lot with those coaches and those players. I still try to talk to them as much as possible. But Central is a great platform for any high school athlete to try and get exposed to the college level. They do everything the right way. Their facilities are top notch. It’s basically a college campus, in my opinion.”

Recipient of the Bob Eberly Disting-uished Service Scholarship, Schiets is looking forward to the day when he’s making a difference for the Falcons.

“I was looking forward to getting as many games in as I can, getting in the weight room, getting faster,” Schiets said. “If we have a season, it’s the best case scenario right now. I hope to make it on the field for special teams, getting back to the Bowling Gtreen standard our fans are used to — getting into MAC championship games and making my own family legacy. My dad (Oak Harbor graduate Dennis Schiets) played at Bowling Green, which a lot of people know. It would just be great to have my own first year of success here.”

While Schiets and Bench wait, Schiets says workouts are continuing. The biggest challenge was keeping in shape over the summer when they could not work alongside teammates.

“For the longest time we were just doing our quarantine workouts,” Schiets said. “Not everybody had access to football weight rooms, like our Olympic weight rooms, so coach (Kevin) Tolbert with strength and conditioning did his best to modify our workouts with body weights and stuff. So, we got back to old school push-ups, a whole bunch of those, and use whatever you had in your basement, really, or your garage. It’s pretty much what all the NFL guys were doing because they didn’t have anything available either.”

Meanwhile, Schiets is learning how the football program operates, because he wants to be part of coaching or football operations in his future. He says he’s enjoying classes, too.

“I loved it (his freshman year). I made the Dean’s list both semesters, so I’m keeping my grades up studying business,” Schiets said. 

“I haven’t made my specialization yet. It’s either going to be marketing or supply chain management. I’m trying to minor in sports management because BGSU has a great sports management program. So, I shadowed Olivia Passy, who is our football director of operations, and Derek Miller, who is our recruiting coordinator. I’ve been watching everything that they’ve been doing this past year and just try to learn from them as far as the logistical side of football.So, I’ve been learning a lot as a player and as a coach ‘kind of deal,’ which is what I want to do.”

Both Schiets and Bench stay in touch with their high school friends, too. For Schiets, it is Northwood resident Jase Bowen, who after excelling in football and baseball at Central, is now a minor league baseball player after being drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“I know Jase is obviously Jase and he’s all over the place so when he is home I like to see him. I hope he does well and I know he’s trying to figure things out with all the minor league stuff being canceled,” Schiets said.

For Bench, it’s Jacob Plantz, a Genoa classmate who was starting his freshman year for the NCAA Division II Lake Erie College basketball team. 

“I’ve seen him a couple times this summer, but it was mostly whenever I could because I had to help my dad with the farm this year,” Bench said. “But, I heard that he went back to Lake Erie and I’m proud of what he’s doing out there.”

















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