BY JEREMY SCHNEIDER | MIRROR SPORTS — It won’t be immediately obvious from the final score, but the Maumee football team took some steps in the right direction during a 41-3 loss to defending Northern Lakes League champ Anthony Wayne last week.
Take a deeper dive into recent history, though, and some highlights become obvious for the Panthers (0-4).
Over the previous four meetings, the Generals had outscored Maumee, 233-0, and since the last Panthers win in the series (2014), AW held a 313-27 edge on the scoreboard.
In fact, Diego Barboza’s field goal in the third quarter was the first time Maumee had scored on Anthony Wayne since 2017.
Not only are they the defending NLL champs, but the Generals also boast the reigning NLL Player of the Year in running back Joe Caswell. While he rushed for 175 yards on Friday night, MHS coach Cam Coutcher believed his defense made AW work for every yard it gained.
It might not seem like a lot, but for a team that’s now lost 28 straight games, every positive sign is something to cheer about.
“Our effort defensively was great,” Coutcher said. “Defensively, I was so proud of our guys. I know, you look at 41 points and say, ‘Well, how can you be proud of your guys?’ That’s the best we’ve played defensively all year.”
In losses the previous two weeks to Bryan and Eastwood, the Panthers had allowed 812 rushing yards and 14 scores on the ground. More of the same figured to be on the way against the rush-heavy Generals, but Maumee allowed 284 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Again, steps in the right direction.
“We didn’t give up any big plays, really,” Coutcher said. “They had to chunk, they had to drive. We were hitting guys, they were feeling it. They were getting tired. It was a football game.
“That’s what you want. You want your kids to have the opportunity to play four quarters of football and compete and feel like you can do it.
“We didn’t get pushed around, and it wasn’t easy. That’s a good start. Now the next step is getting more stops, being more consistent with the way we play and getting off to a better start on offense.”
Alex Lewis led the team with five tackles, including one for a loss. Sophomore Cody Wulf played through a broken bone in his wrist to total four tackles.
“(Cody) was one of our best defensive players, so when you’ve got a guy who’s performing at that level, you keep him in,” Coutcher said.
“We’ve got a guy defensively who was doing really nice things, so you leave him in and let him keep going.”
Coutcher saw his offense struggle to establish a rushing attack again, totaling negative-17 yards on the ground. Quarterback Kyle Arndt was the only Maumee rusher to finish with positive running yards, gaining 23 yards on 15 attempts.
Arndt also threw for 152 yards on 19-of-32 passing with no interceptions.
Sophomore Carson Graetz had a team-high five catches for 55 yards.
Barboza’s boot in the third quarter was among the offensive highlights of the game for Maumee. Coutcher didn’t hold back on his praise for the senior kicker after the game.
“I tell people all the time that he’s not our kicker, he’s a football player,” Coutcher said. “He comes to everything. He took our conditioning test; he did not have to do that. He decided he wanted to be a part of this program.”
The Panthers (0-4) will regroup this week before traveling to face Northview (2-2), which lost to Napoleon last week.