By Jeremy Schneider
In all measurables except one, Maumee’s final football game of the 2020 season was an unrivaled success.
The Panthers put up the most total yard, most passing yards, most rushing yards, and most points of any game this season. The defense came away with a pair of takeaways.
And while the scoreboard showed Springfield with a 42-21 win over Maumee, the way the Panthers performed on the field showed glimpses of hope for the future.
“I thought our guys came out and competed really well,” Maumee coach Cam Coutcher said. “A couple of hiccups here and there, but then they responded so well to the adversity this time through. Even until the end, we kept fighting.
“The scoreboard hasn’t been an item of focus all year for us. We’ve just been trying to compete.”
At least for one game, sophomore Kyle Arndt showed he will figure into any quarterback discussion the Panthers have for the next two years. He completed 13-of-28 passes for 124 yards and rushed for another 106 yards and a score.
Arndt made some typical sophomore mistakes, but Coutcher was impressed with the skills the young player displayed.
“Kyle’s a very smart kid, he understands the offense really well,” Coutcher said. “Eli (Seiler) pushed him a lot and helped him understand things, so great leadership from one of our captains. … Kyle showed a lot of confidence tonight, so that was good to see.”
Five different players caught passes, with Derek Marvin (four catches, 47 yards) and Kaden Kirkman (4-42) leading the way. Caleb Boerst had three grabs for 29 yards.
As a team, the Panther totaled 298 yards. They had 174 yards on the ground, with Cornell Lawrence II rushing nine times for 59 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown.
“It was great to see Cornell get in the end zone, as a senior,” Coutcher said. “I told him I was going to try to get him in the end zone. I didn’t know it was going to be on a second (down)-and-15 carry, but he did anyway.”
Maumee entered the half down 14-8 after Arndt scored on a 30-yard run in the second quarter.
However, Springfield came out of the break and posted 28 unanswered points in the third quarter — capped off by a 45-yard punt return for a TD — to take a 42-8 lead entering the fourth.
“I thought in the third, we got in a rut where our players stopped believing as much,” Coutcher said. “One of the messages at halftime was, you’ve got to learn how to deal with success, too. When things are going really well, we’ve got to stay level and even-keeled and continue to go after people.”
Coutcher gave credit to his players, though, for responding with a pair of fourth-quarter TDs. Alex Lewis ran it in from 1 yard out, and Lawrence scored on a 21-yard run up the home sidelines.
Aaron Roberts had seven tackles to lead the Maumee defense. Dillon Schiavone had two tackles, an interception, and a fumble recovery.
“The future is bright,” Coutcher said. “Our guys do things the right way, and by that, I mean with a blue-collar mentality, they just grind. They’re very coachable. They’re overall great kids. The younger guys are falling into that. They understand our culture, the way we do things. I think we’re going to improve as we go through this thing.”
As the Panthers tie up the 2020 season, Coutcher took a moment in the minutes just after the last game to reflect on a season unlike one anyone has experienced.
“There was a lot going on with the coronavirus,” Coutcher said. “I remember how excited our guys were to get started and how eager they were in the summer. Just the passion our kids have for the sport, each other, and the program, I think when you look at those things, nothing else matters to me except for the kids having a good time and being passionate about what they’re doing, and doing things the right way.”