Undefeated Napoleon looks to continue historic football season

Napoleon’s Max Westhoven runs the ball against Bryan. He has gained 481 yards. He leads the Wildcats with 84 tackles.
Napoleon’s Max Westhoven runs the ball against Bryan. He has gained 481 yards. He leads the Wildcats with 84 tackles.

The opportunity to add on to a historical football season is still on the agenda for Napoleon.

Another victory in the state playoffs will certainly do the trick for the Wildcats.

The No. 1-seeded Wildcats (11-0-1) face No. 2 seed Bellevue (11-1) in a Divison III regional final at 7 p.m. Saturday at Findlay's Donnell Stadium.

Napoleon, which finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in the state poll, scored a thrilling 21-20 win Saturday over Bryan in a regional semifinal. The Wildcats needed a defensive stop by Charlie Harris and Max Westhoven on a two-point conversion attempt by Bryan quarterback Austin Schimmoeller to secure a school-record 11th win of the season.

"I think for our community and for us as a family, this is unreal," said Jordan Lauf, a senior wide receiver. "This is what we've been dreaming for since the summer."

The Wildcats, who are 6-10 all-time in the playoffs, are looking to reach the state semifinals for the first time and have never played in a regional final.

The Redmen, who are 11-13 all-time in the tournament, are also attempting to reach the state semifinals for the first time.

Napoleon, which won the Northern Lakes League title, has been riding a wave of momentum from the regular season.

"You're a game away from the state final four," Napoleon coach Tory Strock said. "That's unbelievable. That makes a special season even better."

Bellevue has outscored its opponents 463-153. Like the Wildcats, the Redmen kept their season alive by claiming victory in the final moments of their regional semifinal. Bellevue topped Sandusky Perkins 28-27 on a 12-yard touchdown completion from quarterback Jalen Santoro to Trent Stamm as time expired. Jake Strayer's extra-point kick gave the Redmen the victory.

Harris leads a strong Napoleon ground game. The Wildcats have rushed for 2,522 yards with Harris gaining 1,006 yards on 116 carries and scoring 16 touchdowns.

Westhoven has gained 481 on 92 carries and scored 7 TDs.

Quarterback David Yunker has been steady, completing 73 of 132 passes for 1,142 yards, including 19 touchdowns.

Lauf, the 6-foot-5 senior wideout, has been his primary target, pulling in a team-leading 28 passes for 674 yards. Fourteen of those catches have resulted in touchdowns. Nick George has 20 catches for 240 yards and three TDs.

"We have a good enough run game to where if they go ahead and double-team me that leaves less people in the box, and we have to make plays in the run game," Lauf said. "When we do, that's what sets up the pass.

"That's what helped us against Bryan. Our run game was successful and it helped set up the pass."

Harris rushed for 173 yards against Bryan on 27 carries, including an 18-yard touchdown run. On defense, the 5-foot-10, 178-pound senior has 31 total tackles (13 solos) and a team-high five interceptions.

Westhoven has ra team-best 84 tackles, including 32 solo. Bryant Schlade has 37 solos and 81 total tackles. Adante Warren (76 total, 31 solos, 6 sacks), Sam Walker (71 total, 35 solos) and Anson Lankenau (65 total, 36 solos) have also been leaders on defense.

Contact Donald Emmons at: demmons@theblade.com, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade.