Rivalry renewed?

Playoffs at stake for E-B vs. Farmington

ROWVA-Williamsfield bottled up the Stark County running game last week in a 34-13 victory. Above, R-W defenders Jack Godsil (85), Gage Aldred (56) and Brody Bledsoe slow down a Stark County runner. Photo by Collin Fairfield.

For The Weekly Post

RUSHVILLE – One week after being stunned, Farmington went back to its football basics.

By piling up 423 yards on 47 carries while completing just two passes, the Farmers (4-2, 4-1 Prairieland) returned to the win column with a 33-16 victory at Rushville-Industry.

The result also set up an interesting matchup Friday, as Elmwood-Brimfield (4-2, 4-1) will visit Farmington with a playoff berth and second place in the conference on the line.

“It’s probably going to be the best Elmwood-Farmington game since 2017-18,” Farmers Coach Toby Vallas said. “There won’t be any surprises.”

The Trojans can be expected to run and so also can the Farmers, who struggled offensively in a 58-7 loss to Macomb on Sept. 23.

Not so at Rushville, where Farmington running back Rese Shymansky (24 carries, 197 yards) and quarterback Gage Renken (14 carries, 149 yards) combined for five scores in a back-to-basics attack.

“Protecting the football and special teams were a big issue (against Macomb), and I think we got those rectified for the most part,” Vallas said. “We did a nice job of being much more physical and deliberate in what we were doing.

“We had to be consistent. That’s something we’ve struggled with. Even in the past when we’ve had some really good teams, we didn’t have to be as consistent because we were so explosive. We’re just not as fast as we’ve been. That’s no knock on our kids, we just have to win a different way and know who we are.”

After a scoreless first quarter at Rushville, the Farmers scored twice to grab a 13-8 halftime lead that grew in the second half.

“It was a very physical game and I did feel like we were in control the whole game,” Vallas said.

Farmington has won six straight against E-B since dropping a wild 77-64 decision in 2015. The Farmers are 9-4 vs. E-B since the two local rivals started playing each other again in 2010.

– Jeff Lampe

Macomb 38
Elmwood-Brimfield 20

ELMWOOD – In its previous Prairieland game, against Farmington, Macomb’s passing was prolific. Against E-B, the Bombers (6-0, 5-0) ran and ran. More accurately, Max Ryner did.

Ryner rushed for four touchdowns and 235 yards, more than the entire E-B total. To say the least, Trojans Coach Todd Hollis was impressed.

“If he played for us, he’d be an all-state running back,” Hollis said.

“That kid, he’s a ton. Once they got moving, they stuck with it. We needed to get a couple of stops, and we really didn’t get the couple of stops we needed.”

Things started well for Class 2A E-B (4-2, 4-1) against the 10th-rated team statewide in Class 4A. Aiden Frail’s 60-yard interception return gave E-B the lead in the first three minutes.

“It was everything it was supposed to be,” Hollis said about the pick-six. “He jumps right in front of it and catches it in full stride. … Aiden Frail is a very good football player.”

Frail scored again just before the end of the quarter as E-B took a 14-8 lead. After Ryner scored twice, the Trojans trailed 24-14 late in the half but were driving at the Bombers 25. An interception ended that threat.

Then Macomb stripped E-B on consecutive second-half possessions.

“Good teams capitalize when the other team makes mistakes, and sometimes they create those mistakes,” Hollis said. “That’s what they did. (But) I think we went pretty close to toe-to-toe with them.”

A game Friday at Farmington looms for E-B. Hollis knows what his players need to do to neutralize the Farmers.

“They absolutely want to run the ball, and that’s what they’ve done for years,” he said. “You better stop that. Otherwise, you’re in big trouble.”

– Nick Vlahos

ROWVA-Williamsfield 34
Stark County 13

WYOMING – The visitors’ locker room survived the ROWVA-Williamsfield football team’s enthusiasm. The Stark County running game did not.

R-W held the hosts to 69 yards rushing as the Cougars’ defense dominated a Lincoln Trail Conference victory.

Riley Danner’s 20-yard touchdown pass to Jaxon Sharp with 9:41 left in the second quarter broke a 7-7 tie and put R-W (4-2, 3-1) ahead for keeps. After that, R-W sacked Stark County junior quarterback Luke Rewerts four times before illness forced him from the game early in the second half.

“They were very aggressive,” Stark County Coach Jade Noard said. “We just didn’t seem to have a whole lot of pep in our step. We seemed a little groggy. Maybe that’s what they did to us. They kind of made us one-dimensional.”

The postgame celebration after R-W’s win sounded like something from the fourth dimension. Raucous, joyful noise emanated from the Cougars’ cozy, shed-like dressing room next to Gary Johnson Field.

“We tried to rock the building. It almost went down,” R-W lineman Graham Wight said, smiling.

In truth, the locker room never was in danger. But Stark County (4-2, 2-2) was in trouble almost from the start.

The R-W offense did its part. Danner passed for 203 yards and the Cougars rushed for 244. Bryan Bertlshofer ran for 129 yards, including 81 for a touchdown that gave R-W a 20-7 lead with 9:05 left in the third quarter.

But according to R-W Coach Grant Gullstrand, defense was emphasized in practice following a 20-point loss Sept. 23 to Mercer County.

“Fundamental things,” Gullstrand said. “We kind of got away from fundamentals to try to do too much to stop some stuff Mercer County did. We made things a little more basic and we played fast tonight on defense.”

That speed caught up to Rewerts. He lost a total of 36 yards on the four sacks – two by Grant Erlacher, one each by Wight and Luke Nelson.

During the first drive of the third quarter, not long after Erlacher’s second sack, Rewerts departed. According to Noard, Rewerts had been dealing all week with stomach issues and migraine headaches. Aliments caused Rewerts to miss a day of school and practice.

“He couldn’t keep going,” Noard said. “It wasn’t any one hit that happened.”

Backup QB Xander Swank led a four-play scoring drive that cut the Stark County deficit to 27-13 with 11:21 left in the game. Swank passed for 117 yards overall, an effort Noard praised.

Running wasn’t going to save the Rebels. Nolan Orwig had a team-high 40 yards. Rewerts ran for 7 yards on 10 carries.

“They took our running game away,” Noard said.

That was part of the plan, according to Wight.

“Coach told us we’ve got to make them a single-threat team,” he said. “If we can eliminate their run game and force them to pass, our D-line can do their jobs and allow corners and backs to execute what they’re supposed to do.”

If R-W wins one of its remaining three games, it will advance to the state playoffs for the first time. On paper, the best victory opportunity might be Friday night, a home game against Monmouth United (1-5, 0-5).

– Nick Vlahos

Mercer County 51, Princeville 14

ALEDO – Through two quarters, the Princes were playing their best football of the season. Then the home team came out of the locker room in a wishbone formation and never looked back.

Tied 14-14 at the break thanks to a 16-yard touchdown pass from Logan Carruthers to Jordan Johnson and a 43-yard run by Tayshaun Kieser, Princeville gave up 37 unanswered points in the final two quarters.

“They scored on us, we went three and out and they had a punt return for a touchdown, then they got an onside kick and the wheels fell off,” Princeville Coach Jon Carruthers said. “But the first half showed the kids what they are capable of doing. We played probably the best half of football we’ve played. Hopefully they can build on that and get on a little run here.”

Princeville has games at 1-5 Abingdon-Avon and at 0-6 Walther Christian before closing at home against Stark County in a game that could well decide the playoff fate for both teams.

– Jeff Lampe