Eastwood has to be physical to reach regional finals

J. Patrick Eaken

Richwood North Union traveled over two hours to Eastwood’s Freedom Field, bringing with them a reputation for playing physical football.

The Eagles met the challenge as 5-foot-11, 215-pound senior running back Gage Might scored from four yards out in overtime to give Eastwood a 20-14 Division V regional semifinal victory over the Wildcats.

Eastwood coach Craig Rutherford says it was a “wild game” with a strange finish. The Eagles stopped the Wildcats in their first overtime possession, putting Rutherford’s team in a good spot. If they had to, they could rely on senior kicker Connor Oberhouse, who has kicked three field goals and converted on 33 extra points.

“It was a tough, respectful game,” Rutherford said. “Obviously, when you win the coin toss before overtime that is an advantage. We felt good. We thought that he (Oberhouse) could have made it right away, but obviously we tried to get the touchdown. It was a fun way to end it.”

First, the Eagles had to stop the Wildcats. Rutherford is giving a lot of credit to his linebackers, who are stepping up to make plays against good teams. 

Outside linebackers are 5-10, 161-pound senior Isaac Badenhop and 5-11, 171-pound junior Dylan Hoffman. Inside linebackers are 5-8, 174-pound sophomore Bryce Hesselbart and 5-6, 171-pound senior Zach Kwiatkowski.

“Dylan came up with a big tackle for a loss in overtime and our secondary played well. We got a pass interference call, but we were being aggressive which we are OK with,” Rutherford said. “You have to compete with those guys. Then, we were able to get pressure on the quarterback when we needed it and that made the difference in the end.”

North Union was facing a fourth down and 16, but the pass interference call moved the Wildcats up to the 3-yard line. However, Rutherford said the North Union coaching staff was arguing with the officials and their team was whistled a delay of game penalty, setting the Wildcats back to the 8-yard line. An ensuing field goal attempt fell short.

North Union opened a 14-7 halftime lead, but Eastwood held them scoreless in the second half.

“We sustained our blocks. We looked at what they were doing and tried to make a couple adjustments and see if we could get anything to hit, and got after the ball a little bit, and it worked,” Rutherford said. 

“Their running back (5-11, 200-pound senior Trevor Moran), was pretty tough. He runs hard. We had trouble slowing him down early. Their receiver (senior Trevyn Feasel) just made some really amazing catches, and it’s a good combination for them. We were fortunate to have some guys in the right place at the right time late in the fourth quarter and in overtime, and it worked out.”

North Union stifled Eastwood’s offense, too, as 5-8, 155-pound sophomore running back Bryce Koprowski-Kistner was the Eagles’ leading back with 81 yards on 22 carries. On the season, Koprowski-Kistner has 874 yards on 166 carries, caught six passes for 139 yards and scored 10 touchdowns.

Emmet Getz, a 6-2, 218-pound junior back, has 382 yards on 74 carries and scored six TDs, Might has 325 yards rushing on 41 carries and scored six TDs and 5-7, 165-pound junior back Ethan Kwiatkowski has 226 yards on 41 carries.

Eastwood 5-10, 182-pound senior quarterback Jared McNulty has completed 31 of 49 passes (63.3 percent) for 458 yards and six TDs, and 6-1, 218-pound junior split end Andrew Arntson has nine catches for 151 yards and four TDs.

North Union, which fell to 7-3, had beaten Fostoria (48-0), Genoa (35-7) and Liberty-Benton (28-7) to get to Eastwood. Eastwood is 7-1 and traveled to Tontogony Saturday for a rematch with Otsego (9-0) in a regional final showdown. Otsego is the only team to defeat the Eagles, 17-7 on Sept. 4. 

A win would send Eastwood into the D-V state semifinals for the first time since 2017, when the Eagles (14-1) were state runners-up, losing to Wheelersburg, 21-14, in overtime at Canton’s Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. That was Craig Rutherford’s first year at the helm, taking over for his father, long time coach Jerry Rutherford, who is helping out this year as an assistant.








The Press

The Press
1550 Woodville Road
Millbury, OH 43447

(419) 836-2221

Email Us

Facebook Twitter

Ohio News Media Association