GREENVILLE — After an offseason filled with memories of a 3-7 season and the uncertainty of whether a 2020 season would happen in the era of COVID-19, Sidney players were ecstatic to finally take the field on Friday.
Their excitement only grew as the touchdowns accumulated and peaked when they celebrated around the Little Brown Jug after the game.
The Yellow Jackets scored all their points in the first half of a dominating 56-0 Miami Valley League victory over the Green Wave in a season opener at Harmon Field. They reclaimed the teams’ traveling trophy from Greenville, who beat the Yellow Jackets 19-14 after a last-minute touchdown pass in a Week 10 game last year at Harmon Field.
“We had Greenville on our minds all summer,” Sidney senior quarterback Cedric Johnson said. “We worked really hard thinking about it. All we wanted was that Jug. In the weight room, practice — all we wanted was that Jug.
“We all came together as a unit, played a great team game and got the win.”
It was a dominating performance all around. Offensively, the Yellow Jackets moved the ball with ease behind a line that steamrolled over Greenville defenders all night. Junior running back E.J. Davis scored four TDs while Johnson threw for two and ran for one.
“Our O-line just dominated the game,” Johnson said. “They kept the pocket clean, made holes that were huge. How can’t you win with protection like that?”
Greenville, which lost most of its starters from last year’s 7-3 squad, didn’t get a first down in the first half and committed four turnovers, including a fumble senior free safety Jacob Wheeler picked up and returned 45 yards for a touchdown.
“We’ve been playing hard and working hard all summer on defense,” senior cornerback Grant Fair, who had two interceptions, said. “The chemistry’s there now.”
It was a solid showing for the squad’s defense, which gave up an average of 309 yards and 22 points per game last year.
“As a coaching staff and the kids collectively, we’ve worked really hard in the offseason at trying to get better (defensively) and get to where we’ve wanted to be the last couple of years,” Sidney coach Adam Doenges said. “… I’m glad to see the hard work pay off for the kids like that. Anytime you put a doughnut up there makes you feel good about yourself.”
Doenges felt confident about the team’s ability, but since no MVL school scrimmaged this season due to state government restrictions prohibiting contact sports from playing games, he wasn’t sure how the squad would play facing an opponent for the first time.
“You don’t really know who you are without any scrimmages or 7-on-7’s,” Doenges said. “It’s just kind of a weird place to be. I’m not quite sure we’ll know exactly who we are until Week 3 or Week 4, but obviously, this is a great start. We did some good things tonight, but there’s still a lot of things we’ve got to clean up. I’m unbelievable proud of what we did tonight, though.”
Johnson capped off Sidney’s opening drive with a 6-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Avante Martin. The squad quickly drove down field after a three-and-out by the Green Wave thanks to two big runs by Johnson and Davis and scored with 8:10 left to take a 7-0 lead.
Johnson scored on a 3-yard run with 1:49 left in the first to boost the lead to 14-0. Then the Yellow Jackets ran away fast in the second.
Johnson threw a 33-yard pass to Izayah Clarke on the first play of the quarter and Davis scored on a 3-yard run on the next play. Johnson then threw a 7-yard TD pass to Martin with 7:37 left to boost the lead to 28-0.
Donavin Johnson intercepted a pass at Greenville’s 21-yard line shortly after, and Davis scored on the next play to push the lead to 35 points.
Wheeler’s fumble return TD with 4:59 left pushed the lead to 42-0. Fair intercepted a pass to end Greenville’s next drive and returned it to the 13, and Davis ran it in two plays later.
Davis finished the scoring with a 1-yard TD run with 1:34 left.
The point total is a program record for most points scored in a half, and the 42 points scored in the second quarter is also a program record for a single quarter.
Sidney is scheduled to travel to Stebbins for an MVL game next Friday. The Indians, which beat Sidney 23-21 in Week 9 last year, opened the season with 28-25 win at West Carrollton on Friday.
“We’re just going to have to keep working hard in practice so we can get another win,” Johnson said.