SIDNEY — Sidney senior running back Caleb Harris needed 110 rushing yards entering Friday’s Greater Western Ohio Conference game against Greenville to get 1,000 yards on the season.
It came easily for Harris — as just about everything did for the Yellow Jackets in their season finale.
Sidney built a five-touchdown lead by the end of the first quarter and cruised to a 56-21 victory over the Green Wave on Senior Night. It’s the third consecutive season the Yellow Jackets have claimed the Little Brown Jug, the traveling trophy between the two squads.
“Having that Jug is important to those guys,” Sidney coach Adam Doenges said. “Having this rivalry game the last week of the year is neat and gives you something to play for.
“The underclassmen wanted to send the seniors out in the right direction tonight, and the seniors wanted to leave with a win and the underclassmen with a good taste in their mouth. We did both.”
Sidney finishes 5-5 overall and 2-3 in GWOC American North play, while Greenville finishes 3-7 and 0-5, respectively.
“It was all about going out on a good note and leaving the underclassmen positive going into next year,” Harris said. “It’s great to go off on a good note. You know you’re not sad at the end of the game or anything.”
Harris, who also plays defensive back, reached 1,000 yards on a touchdown run late in the first quarter. He has been a two-way starter the last two years and finished third on the team this year with 47.5 tackles. He ran for 193 yards and four touchdowns on 19 carries on Friday.
“This is great, getting 1,000 yards with my brothers,” Harris said. “Shout out to the O-line — it’s all them. They did all the work.”
Sidney will lose 15 seniors to graduation, many of which were starters. The class goes down as the first since the class of 1991 to have posted records .500 or better for three of their four seasons.
“We expected more out of ourselves at the start of the season, but ending at .500 is a lot better than going under .500,” Harris said. “I think we did well.”
Sidney will lose three of its top six receivers to graduation in Ratez Roberts, Josiah Hudgins and Harris. Hudgins also played at defensive back.
Among other key starters who will graduate are linebackers Christian Retterer, Christian Townsend and Seth Klingler, defensive back Joshua Harlett and safety Keith Lee.
The Yellow Jackets will also lose four lineman in Braydon Dean, Joey Bishop, Cooper Collingsworth and Dylan “Tank” Vanderpool. Dean led Sidney with 68 tackles and two sacks.
“This group has worked extremely hard and has elevated this program,” Doenges said. “I’m glad we can send them out on a good note.”
Vanderpool got his first career carry on Friday — though he lost a yard.
“It keeps practice a little more lighthearted when those lineman know one of their guys might get a carry, and we were glad to sneak him in there in the second quarter,” Doenges said.
Harris, who is listed as 5-foot-10 and 168 pounds, became the 16th player in Sidney history to rush for 1,000 yards and the third in the last five years. Eric Barnes ran for 1,123 yards in 2014, while Isaiah Bowser ran for 1,877 yards in 2016 and 2,684 yards last year.
Harris finishes the season with 1,083 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. He had three forced fumbles on defense.
“He’s a tough kid,” Doenges said. “That’s a scary thing knowing how good our running back has been for the last three years (in Bowser) and knowing that Caleb was our backup. …It’s been neat to get him over that and neat for the offensive lineman also.
“… (Harris) runs physical and sees very well in the hole. When he’s ready to go, he’s got a little extra burst and can pop and get through there. He’s done a lot for us this year. One of those guys we’re going to miss.”
Sidney led 42-7 at halftime. The entire second half was played with a running clock.
Harris scored on a 47-yard run with 5:40 left in the third quarter to boost the Yellow Jackets’ lead to 49-7. Greenville scored on a 4-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Beyke to Di’Maurya Ewing with 1:47 left, but Darren Taborn returned the ensuing kickoff 81 yards for a touchdown to boost Sidney’s lead back to 42 points.
Beyke threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to John Butch with 10:06 left in the fourth quarter, which was the last TD of the game.
Greenville got the ball to start the game and turned the ball over on downs at Sidney’s 27.
It didn’t take long for the Yellow Jackets to score. After several runs by Harris, Ryan Dunham threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to Lathan Jones along the home sideline. Hallie Truesdale hit the extra point to put Sidney ahead 7-0 with 5:33 left in the first.
Greenville went three-and-out on the next drive, and Sidney tipped the punt and got the ball at the Green Wave 35. Harris scored on a 10-yard run soon after to boost Sidney’s lead to 14-0 with 3:39 left.
The Yellow Jackets scored again 20 seconds later. After a short gain on a run, Taborn intercepted a pass by Beyke and returned it 29 yards along the visitor’s sideline for a touchdown.
After another Greenville three-and-out, Dunham threw a 35-yard pass to Roberts and Harris ran in from 38 yards out to put Sidney ahead 28-0 with 1:21 left.
Lee recovered a fumbled at Greenville’s 22 with 58.9 seconds left, then Harris ran in from 9 yards out a few plays later to push Sidney’s lead to 35-0 with 13.9 seconds left. Harris went over 1,000 rushing yards for the season on the TD run.
The offensive production in rainy conditions was more than Sidney had in similar weather the last two weeks in losses to Troy and Vandalia-Butler.
“We just came out and said, ‘Screw the weather,’ and just played hard,” Harris said.
Sidney finished with 319 yards of offense and didn’t have any turnovers, while Greenville had 288 and four turnovers.
Dunham completed 4-of-7 passes for 109 yards with one touchdown. Roberts had a team-high three receptions for 48 yards.
“We did a nice job of just taking care of the ball tonight,” Doenges said. “For as wet and as ugly as it was out here, we didn’t have any turnovers, and that’s been a major issue for us. We were able to keep hold of the ball, and when we’ve done that, we’ve done a lot of great things offensively.”
Truesdale, a junior, made 8-of-8 extra points — the most she’s made in a single game in her three-year career.
Friday’s game was the last for both teams as members of the GWOC. They’re among 10 GWOC American League teams that are leaving the conference to reform the Miami Valley League, which will start play next year.