Paulding and Wayne Trace will meet again for the 12th annual Black Swamp Bowl at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30. This year’s battle will take place at the home of the Panthers. Above, senior players from both squads are ready for the game. Front row from left are both teams’ captains – Nathan Gerber, Alex Reinhart, Kameron Bevis, Nate Showalter, Cole Mabis, Riley Coil, Jacob King; back row – Nate Shepherd, Reed Zartman, Nathan Wilhelm, Drew Forrer, Seth Dysinger, Owen Carnahan, Brandon Jackson and Jacob Deisler. The traveling Black Swamp Bowl trophy is sponsored by the Paulding County Progress. This rivalry game opens the 2019 fall football schedule for both teams. Melinda Krick/Paulding County Progress
Paulding and Wayne Trace will meet again for the 12th annual Black Swamp Bowl at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30. This year’s battle will take place at the home of the Panthers. Above, senior players from both squads are ready for the game. Front row from left are both teams’ captains – Nathan Gerber, Alex Reinhart, Kameron Bevis, Nate Showalter, Cole Mabis, Riley Coil, Jacob King; back row – Nate Shepherd, Reed Zartman, Nathan Wilhelm, Drew Forrer, Seth Dysinger, Owen Carnahan, Brandon Jackson and Jacob Deisler. The traveling Black Swamp Bowl trophy is sponsored by the Paulding County Progress. This rivalry game opens the 2019 fall football schedule for both teams. Melinda Krick/Paulding County Progress
By KEVIN WANNEMACHER

Sports Writer

PAULDING - The high school football season kicks off a week late this year with the opening weekend joining with Labor Day weekend, which is normally week two in the high school season.

That delay of an extra week just turns up the anticipation even more in a battle of Paulding County rivals as Wayne Trace travels north up 127 to take on host Paulding at Keysor Field Friday night.

The Black Swamp Bowl battle, sponsored by the Paulding County Progress, is the 12th matchup since the trophy was presented for the first time in 2008.

It is a game that not only both coaching staffs are ready for but a full roster of players from both schools are ready for as well.

“It is a big game,” noted Panther head coach Tyler Arend. “It’s the first game of the season and it is a huge rivalry game so there will be a lot of emotion and excitement on both sides.”

“We are excited to get the season going,” stated Wayne Trace head coach Mike Speice. “It is a huge game to both school districts. The kids know each other, families from both schools know each other and some have family members in both school districts. It is a big game in a lot of ways and we are excited to play.”

Each team comes into the contest familiar with what their opponent wants to do, having played each other for several seasons and each squad has coaching staffs who have been place for multiple seasons.

“We know what they are going to want to do and they know what we like to do,” Arend added. “One of the big keys to the game is controlling the emotions and executing the game plan. If we stay focused and do that, we feel we can be successful.”

Arend was pleased with the Panthers’ play in their two scrimmages but also knows that Paulding needs to and can be better.

“I thought we played pretty decent against Parkway,” stated the Panther mentor. “Defensively, we weren’t physical enough but I thought we did a much better job of that in our second scrimmage against Bryan. I felt pretty good overall about the way we played against Bryan.”

Offensively, Arend has been pleased with the way his squad has moved the ball in the two scrimmages but knows the maroon and white must do a better job of finishing scoring opportunities.

“We moved the ball pretty well between the 30’s in both scrimmages,” Arend added. “However, we didn’t do a good job of finishing drives. We will need to a better job of finishing drives and taking advantage of opportunities come Friday night.”

For Wayne Trace, Speice says the Raiders must stay disciplined and be solid defensively to be successful in the season opener.

“Our defense needs to be able to get stops,” commented the Raider head coach. “We will need to do be smart and be disciplined defensively. Each guy will need to step up and do their job.”

A pair of juniors will lead their respective schools offensively as Payton Beckman comes back for the Panthers while Trevor Speice returns for Wayne Trace.

Beckman, who took over quarterback duties in midseason 2018, threw for 844 yards a year ago completing 56 of 114 passes and seven touchdowns.

Speice enters his third-year as the Raider signal-caller and is coming off of a sophomore season that saw him complete 174 of 328 passes for 2,566 yards and 29 touchdowns.

“We have been able to see Trevor a couple of years now so we have some idea of what they want to do,” Arend stated of the Raider offense. “But, it comes down to we have to do the right things, and the little things, defensively. Making sure we are in the right position and that we make good reads will be a big part of it.”

Both teams have come through their respective scrimmages in good health, which is always a big key entering week one.

“Health-wise, we are pretty good,” Speice noted. “We had one player get hit and will probably miss a week or two but overall, we think we are in good shape there.”

“A couple of guys are a little banged up but I think everybody will be ready to play on Friday,” noted Arend.

Controlling those emotions and playing within themselves will go a long way in having success on Friday for both squads. Oh, and limiting turnovers and penalties are a big factor as well.

“The team that makes fewer mistakes will give themselves a good chance to be successful,” concluded Arend. “We have taken the mindset all preseason of getting better each day and we want to take that this week as well. If we stay focused on that and do the little things correctly, that is what we can control.”

“Guys playing within themselves is always a big key, especially in rivalry games,” Speice added. “You have to do the right things and not try to do things outside of the team game plan. Keep the emotions in check but be aggressive as well. It will come down to which team does a better job of execution and plays smart. It should be a fun night with a huge crowd.”