Surprise: Miami East senior QB a perfect fit

Miami East senior Ian Gengler is a perfect fit at quarterback. But at 6 feet 1 and a robust 231 pounds, Gengler appears as if he’s out of position.

“We go to 7-on-7’s and they think I’m the center,” he admitted following a 52-28 shootout defeat of visiting Bethel before a capacity crowd in a Week 5 high school football game on Thursday night.

“We’ve had bigger than him,” assured East coach Max Current. “He’s a three-year starter and he does a good job of knowing and running the offense. That’s the best thing.”

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Gengler was at his best in guiding the Vikings’ explosive offense in a clutch Cross County Conference comeback win. Both teams suffered Week 4 conference losses, Fort Loramie taking out East 21-7 and Bethel falling to Ansonia, 28-19.

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Last season Miami East (9-2) went unbeaten in CCC play and handed Bethel (9-2) its only regular-season loss. Both teams remain in playoff contention and could be joined by three or more CCC reps.

“Our focus all week was we can’t let last week’s (loss to Loramie) dictate our season,” Current said. “We’re a little beat up but some guys rose up and did the job.”

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That would include senior standouts Vincent Villella and Justin Brown. Villella had 158 yards rushing and scored on runs of 15 yards and three yards twice. Brown was equally effective, adding 153 yards rushing on just 10 carries, twice scoring on dashes of 57 yards and returning a fumbled Bethel lateral 30 yards for a defensive score.

Gengler added a 2-yard TD toss to Hunter Gross.

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East led 21-0 in the first quarter to put Bethel in catchup-mode. Bethel senior quarterback Jacob Ullmer was outstanding, rushing for all four Bees touchdowns on runs of 47, 35, 9 and 1 yards. He gashed the Vikings defense for 246 yards rushing.

“He read the option really well and he’s quick and shifty,” Bethel coach Scott Clodfelter said. “They’re very good. Even though it’s a loss, I feel we can take it and improve.”

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Bethel closed within 28-14 at halftime, but had no answer for Villella and Brown in the second half.

Miami East (4-1, 2-1) is looking to make the postseason cut in Division V, Region 18 after being realigned from D-V, Region 20. The only CCC team in Region 18, the Vikings have appeared in the playoffs the last six seasons.

“It was a tough loss last week and we wanted to bounce back and get our morale up,” Gengler said. “It’ll be pretty special if we make (the playoffs). We’re hoping to make a run. We have the talent to do it.”

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Bethel (3-2, 1-2) is lumped in a loaded D-VI, Region 24 with Coldwater, Mechanicsburg and Marion Local — all of which are unbeaten heading into Week 5 games — and others. The Bees advanced to the postseason for the first time last year since 2001.

“We just have to refocus and move on,” said Clodfelter.

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