Inability to finish haunts SC
By JEFF LAMPE
For The Prairie News
ELMWOOD – Finishing drives is proving to be an Achille’s heel for this year’s Stark County football team.
The problem cropped up again last Friday in a pivotal game at Elmwood-Brimfield, where both the Rebels and Trojans faced off in dire need of a win.
That E-B wound up claiming a 30-9 non-conference victory was at least in part to the Rebels’ inability to make the most of possessions.
Case in point came on the first drive of the third quarter.
After E-B (2-2) went up 16-0 on 12- and 15-play drives, the Rebels (1-3) rallied with a 64-yard scoring run by Jordan McCauley and went into the lockers down just 16-9 following a 35-yard field goal by Stark County’s strong-legged Daniel Kieser as the second quarter expired.
Any momentum the Rebels gained from that kick dissipated on the opening drive of the third quarter. After moving to the E-B 45-yard line, the Rebels fell apart.
“We lost that drive on first down. We had a play we talked about running at halftime. We completely malfunctioned. Then we run a pass play that we run every day and we malfunction there too and our quarterback had to throw it early,” Stark County Coach Jade Noard said.
Jake Avery picked off the pass for E-B, which then drove 67 yards in 14 plays to go up 22-9 on a 3-yard run by Slone Windish. One drive later, the Trojans capped the scoring on an 11-yard run by Gavin Buhl with 1:15 left in the third quarter.
Stark County drove to the Trojans 10-yard line in the fourth quarter but could not score.
“That was kind of the story of the night. We can’t run our base offense consistently correctly. That’s why we’re not finishing drives,” Noard said. “We had the ball down inside the 20 twice and got no points. You can’t do that.”
The Trojans finished with 292 yards rushing and held Stark County to 191 on the ground and 35 through the air.
“I was nervous coming into this one,” E-B Coach Todd Hollis said.
But Buhl helped alleviate those worries by rushing for a season-high 165 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries. Both wingback Buhl and running back Aiden Frail (100 yards, one touchdown) had room to run against the Rebels.
“We got into an overloaded formation so we had an extra tackle on the right side. That put beef against beef instead of their big guy going against our tight ends and wings,” Hollis said. “And then [Buhl] was hitting it really quick. It wasn’t sweeps and stuff.”
Stark County faces United Friday in a Homecoming contest.
St. Thomas More 70, Galva 0
CHAMPAIGN – Galva wound up shorthanded at the wrong time against ranked foe St. Thomas More.
Coach Tyler Nichols came down with COVID-19 on Sept. 15 and had to miss the game, while injuries sidelined key starters Talan Hull and Carter Devenney.
“It was definitely scramble mode for us,” said Nichols, who handed the coaching reins to assistant Casey Miller. “They are a really solid team. Talking to coach Miller, they were better in person than on film.”
Nichols must sit out Friday’s road game at Bushnell, but said, “I think we have a pretty good plan in place. The main thing we have to worry about is their quarterback has a pretty good arm, so we have to stay behind their receivers. Otherwise they have big-play potential.”
ONEIDA – For the second week in a row, Princeville (2-2, 2-2 LTC) rallied for a win against a Lincoln Trail Conference foe.
This time the Princes had to come back against ROWVA-Williamsfield, which scored 14 unanswered points in the second half to take the lead. But Princeville rallied with a 19-yard scoring run by speedster Grant Hunt to earn the victory.
“We ran a counter and the line blocked for him and he went in untouched,” Princeville Coach Jon Carruthers said. “In our notes on film we said that’s probably the easiest touchdown you will ever have.”
Carruthers said the offensive line did a good job for Hunt, who led Princeville with 81 yards on 15 carries. Hunt was called on more often with Denver Hoerr (one TD, 73 rushing yards) hobbled a bit.
“We were down and our line stepped up big time and just started running the ball like we do,” Carruthers said. “In the last two weeks these kids have been down and have faced adversity and have come together.
“And Hunt really had a breakout game. Everything was inside the tackle box, which is surprising being the speedster that he is.”
The Princes picked up another win Tuesday when Lewistown called in a forfeit of Friday’s game. Lewistown took 18 players to its win over South Fulton last week, including six freshman. But after several injuries, the Indians opted to forfeit this week’s game.
with power in the second half en route to a total of 387 yards on the ground.
Lincoln Trail Conference
Three LTC teams are ranked this week: Knoxville is No. 9 in Class 2A and Abingdon-Avon and Annawan-Wethersfield are tied for 8th in 1A. A-Town was up 24-0 on Mercer County after three quarters.
Macomb QB Jack Duncan continued his recent hot streak, passing for five touchdowns. Three of those went to JT Jeter and the other two to Langdon Allen in a 52-2 win over West Hancock. Tyler Welch and Denzel Cochran both ran for Bombers scores. … Ranked No. 8 in Class 2A, Rushville-Industry ran for 384 yards and averaged 13.2 per carry in a 56-6 win over Havana. … Winless Lewistown upset South Fulton 26-14.