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Prep football: Sophomore shining as Fenwick braces for regional semifinal against Wapakoneta

MIDDLETOWN — Logan Miller has become a seasoned sophomore in Fenwick High School’s football lineup.

The 5-foot-9, 160-pound safety/running back has come up with a team-best four interceptions, ranks third with 105 total tackles and has contributed 214 yards and three touchdowns on 35 carries for the Falcons, who have advanced to Week 12.

“I didn’t think I was going to start varsity this year,” said Miller, who earned his role as a starting safety after beginning the season with several games as a backup. “My goal was to get varsity reps and at least try to play some varsity. I think I’ve reached those goals. Now I’ve got to keep playing and do well.”

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Miller and fellow safety Henry Nenni paced Fenwick with seven tackles apiece last weekend as the Falcons began the Division III postseason with a 28-7 win over Chaminade Julienne.

Next for Fenwick (9-2) is a Friday trip to Piqua for a Region 12 semifinal against Wapakoneta (10-1), which knocked off defending state champion Trotwood-Madison 24-21 in Week 11.

“They’re big, but I think they’re not as fast as we are,” Miller said of the Redskins, who shared the Western Buckeye League title with St. Marys Memorial this year. “If we play to our ability, I think we’ll just outhustle them, be more alive.”

Falcons coach Dan Haverkamp said there’s no question Wapakoneta will have a size advantage across the board, but that’s not unusual for Fenwick. Its game is quickness and toughness.

Fenwick’s Ben Gustely (47) and Logan Miller (26) tackle Alter’s Lamar Landers (6) during a Sept. 21 game at Centerville Stadium. Landers’ Knights won 45-20. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY ANGIE MOHRHAUS

“I feel confident in what we’re able to do, but at the same time, I know we’re going to have to execute really, really well to beat this team,” Haverkamp said. “It’s going to come down to our execution and how we can handle their size.”

The Redskins’ only loss came against Kenton (15-10) in Week 4. Wapakoneta has allowed more than 15 points just twice all season, and that happend in its last two games against St. Marys (26-24) and Trotwood.

“Our kids showed great resiliency last week against Trotwood. They continued to fight and scrap and found a way to win at the end of the game,” said fifth-year Wapakoneta coach Travis Moyer, noting that his team rallied from 14-0 and 21-14 deficits.

“I think we are playing well at this time,” he added. “We’re doing a lot of the little things it takes to be successful, and we’ve got to continue to do that.”

Fenwick should be prepared to see a lot of junior Evan Kaeck (6-1, 205). He leads the Redskins’ 4-3 defense and is the team’s top rusher at fullback, totaling 19 touchdowns and 1,083 yards on 172 carries.

Wapakoneta operates out of the Wing-T offensively, and Haverkamp said the Redskins have something of a thunder-and-lightning backfield with the bullish Kaeck and speedy senior tailback Aaron Chambers (5-7, 150), who has 249 yards and four TDs on 60 runs.

Fenwick sophomore Logan Miller

Senior quarterback Brady Erb (6-0, 185) is the No. 2 rusher with 729 yards and eight touchdowns on 116 carries. He hasn’t thrown the ball a lot, completing 28-of-66 passes for 567 yards and three TDs with three interceptions.

“If they’re throwing it a lot, I think that bodes well for us because that probably means we’ve got a lead,” Haverkamp said. “That’s obviously not what they want to do. They’re going to be tough in the run game, but it’s similar to what we’ve seen in other weeks with Badin and Alter and Clinton-Massie. They’re all different offenses, but they all want to run the ball, and we’ve got to figure out ways to stop them.”

Moyer said Wapakoneta has six guys going both ways. The Falcons have no true two-way starters, though they have multiple guys who will rotate in on both sides of the ball.

Moyer said trying to figure out where the Falcons are more dangerous offensively is a dilemma.

Senior quarterback Sully Janeck has thrown for 1,952 yards and 18 touchdowns, while Fenwick is averaging 222.6 yards per game on the ground behind seniors Jack Fessler (206 carries, 1,737 yards, 24 TDs) and Caleb Davis (42 carries, 240 yards, two TDs), who’s returned from a foot injury to play in the last three games.

“They’re very athletic and skilled and physical,” Moyer said. “If we get an opportunity to make a big play on either side of the ball, we’ve got to take advantage of that opportunity.”

Haverkamp said the Falcons’ defense turned in “far and away their best performance of the year” against CJ, which didn’t have a first down in the first half.

Asked who stood out defensively for his squad, Haverkamp said he couldn’t point to just one player.

It takes three Fenwick defenders — Henry Nenni (15), John Stevenson (38) and Logan Miller (26, bottom) — to bring Alter’s Branden McDonald (22) down during a Sept. 21 game at Centerville Stadium. McDonald scored three touchdowns in the Knights’ 45-20 win. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY ANGIE MOHRHAUS

“This might sound bad, but because they played so well, nobody jumped out because they didn’t have enough plays to jump out as individuals,” he said. “It really was a top-to-bottom effort.”

Haverkamp said Fenwick has continued to be a loose group in practice this week, though it hasn’t been all smiles.

“I don’t know if the goofball factor has dissipated, but there’s definitely been some toughness and physicality in practice,” Haverkamp said. “Some of our starters have been playing scout team to help us prepare, and there’s been a little more chippiness and physicality. That was a point of emphasis this week. When you’re playing a unique offense, you really have to have a great scout-team performance.”

Miller has been a very solid member of the Falcons’ defense, even though he’d never played in the defensive backfield before this season. He’s been a linebacker for a long time.

“Coach (George) Moore joked with me all last year about moving me to safety,” Miller said. “I think he saw it and believed I could do it. I was like, ‘I want to try it out,’ so that’s what I did. And I like it. I’m having a lot of fun.”

Haverkamp said Miller has taken off in the position since piling up 17 tackles in Week 3 against Clinton-Massie.

“He went in early that night and basically earned his spot for the rest of the year,” Haverkamp said. “As safeties, Logan and Henry are just so tenacious going after the football. Logan is not a big kid, but he’s going to play like he’s every bit as big as anybody we go against.”

Miller said he’s surprised by his tackle total. Being a newcomer to the secondary, he didn’t expect this much run support as part of his daily duties.

He played freshman and junior varsity ball last season.

“Once the season ended, I had it in my mind that I was going to work hard and get better,” Miller said. “I think I worked hard enough to be where I am now. I think the offseason really made all of us better. I think it brought us all together.”

He stopped feeling like a sophomore weeks ago. Miller said he really started to believe he was a key member of the varsity after the Week 4 game against Badin.

“I was like, ‘I’m with all these seniors and I’m playing,’ ” Miller said. “I just kind of felt like I belonged, like everything was complete.”

Friday’s game

What: Division III, Region 12 football semifinal, No. 3 seed Fenwick (9-2) vs. No. 2 seed Wapakoneta (10-1) at Piqua, 7 p.m.

Where: Purk Field at Alexander Stadium, 1 Indian Trail, Piqua

Series: First meeting

Next: Winner will play Alter or Badin for the regional title Nov. 16 at a neutral site

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