FORT LORAMIE — Fort Loramie coach Spencer Wells is excited for the future — both the second half of this season and next year.
The Northwest Conference announced Friday it had invited Fort Loramie to be a football-only member; the school’s board of education voted in favor of joining Monday evening.
Starting in 2024, the Redskins will join the NWC for football along with Lima Central Catholic, which is joining for all sports.
Allen East, Bluffton, Columbus Grove, Delphos Jefferson, Lincolnview and Spencerville are also members. Central Catholic and Loramie’s addition will bring eight football programs into the league; Lincolnview lacks football.
Fort Loramie was in the Northwest Central Conference from 2012 to 2016 and then joined the Cross County Conference in 2017. The CCC broke apart after the 2020 season, and Fort Loramie has been independent since.
Fort Loramie has cobbled together full 10-game regular season schedules the last three years. It has required many road trips, some of which are still looming this year. The Redskins have a 75-minute drive ahead of them to Van Buren in Week 8 and an over two-hour drive to Lucas in Week 9.
“I really enjoyed the competitive aspect to it,” Wells, who has been at the helm since 2018, said. “We played a lot of really good teams. Week to week, we had to be ready to go, and that made it a lot of fun.”
The Redskins improved to 2-3 with a running-clock win over Dayton Meadowdale on Friday and will return to Redskin Stadium this Friday to host Oxford Talawanda.
Talawanda is Division II but has struggled recently. The Brave (yes, singular, not plural) was 1-9 last year and 2-7 in 2021. Almost all the squad’s losses the last three seasons have been by running clock margins, including a 49-0 loss to Division IV Middletown Fenwick in Week 2.
Talawanda beat Dayton Carroll 37-21 on the road on Friday to improve to 1-4. The squad had 429 yards of offense against the Patriots (2-3). Junior quarterback Cale Leitch threw for 95 yards and one TD and ran for 207 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries.
“They’ve got a lot of really good players,” Wells said. “Their quarterback is the real deal. He’s a heck of an athlete. Excellent runner, but he can throw it as well. They’ve got skill on the perimeter. They’ve got size. They played some really tough competition to start the year, like us. They play a lot better than what their record is.”
Loramie struggled some in losses to Minster (4-1), Versailles (5-0) and Columbus Academy (5-0) in the first half of the season, but Wells said he’s seen improvement and is hopeful for the second half of the season.
Junior QB Max Maurer ran for a season-high 139 yards against Meadowdale and threw for 82 yards and one TD. Will Holland ran for over 100 yards and three TDs. The Redskins had 350 yards of offense, 268 of which came on the ground.
“The run game, the more we’ve zeroed in on that, it’s been fun to put together a package that puts our athletes in space,” Wells said. “We’ve started doing a lot more perimeter screens that we weren’t doing at the beginning of the year, some play action stuff off that.
“Will Holland has been a big part of the package, not just running the ball, but as a receiver. We’ve got Maxwell Maurer going in the run game. Carter Eilerman has really been a threat in the pass game.”
Wells said the squad is playing more aggressively on defense. The results showed against the Lions on Friday; Fort Loramie had two sacks, six tackles for loss and intercepted four passes. Meadowdale managed 17 rushing yards on 21 carries.
“I think we’re really starting to settle into our new scheme,” Wells said. “The kids have really taken to that new aggressive approach. The kids are moving more up front. …We’ve got a lot of skilled defensive backs: Cole Barhorst, Thomas Hoying, Maxwell Maurer, Carter Gasson, Aden Bolin. All those guys on the back end are really athletic.
“It’s been fun to watch. We went through maybe more growing pains than we wanted, but the benefit of playing the schedule that we play to start the year meant that we learned a lot along the way. We’re really excited about the second half of the season.”
Sidney will try for 4th straight against Greenville
The Yellow Jackets will host Greenville for elementary night on Friday at Sidney Memorial Stadium and will be without one of their best players.
Junior Julius Spradling, who has played at every skill position on offense and is the team’s leading tackler, is expected to miss several weeks after suffering a shoulder injury late in the second quarter in a 42-0 win at West Carrollton last week.
“Unfortunate it happened basically in the last two plays of the first half,” Sidney coach Dave Taynor said after the game on Friday; Spradling had X-rays done Saturday. “He’ll respond to it well. He’s a good leader.”
Sidney hasn’t lost to Greenville since 2019; that’s the only year the Jackets haven’t had possession of the Little Brown Jug since 2016.
Greenville dropped to 0-5 with a 35-7 loss to previously winless Piqua last week. It was the first game the Green Wave prevented a running clock in the second half.
Greenville is averaging 186 yards and less than a touchdown per game. The Green Wave has allowed an MVL-worst 345 yards per game.
While Spradling and Sidney’s offense have grabbed headlines in the last four weeks weeks, the squad’s defense hasn’t allowed more than 24 points in that time; a 24-15 loss to Xenia in Week 3 is the only time it has allowed over 14 points since a 46-19 Week 1 loss at Bellefontaine.
Sidney held West Carrollton to 79 yards of offense and had nine tackles for loss.
Sidney outscored Fairborn and the Pirates 98-6 the last two games.
Lots of turnovers in Week 5
There were tons of turnovers in the Week 5 games involving Shelby County teams.
Sidney had two takeaways against West Carrollton, Fort Loramie intercepted four passes against Meadowdale, Lehman Catholic had six takeaways against Miami East and Anna and Minster committed a combined seven turnovers in a Midwest Athletic Conference game.
Lehman’s Donovan O’Leary and Fort Loramie’s Will Holland each returned an interception for a touchdown.
The Yellow Jackets also forced West Carrollton into a safety by tackling a ball carrier in the end zone.
Lehman Catholic to travel to new Bethel stadium
The Cavaliers will take part in the second football game at the brand new Legacy Stadium on Friday.
Bethel (1-4, 1-1 Three Rivers Conference) won its first game of the season by beating winless Covington last week in the first football contest at the stadium.
The Bees lost in lopsided fashion in its three nonconference games but has gotten its offense going the last three weeks. Sophomore quarterback Cooper Mears has thrown for 646 yards and three TDs with four interceptions. Sophomore Lucas Truman has caught 20 passes for 334 yards and two TDs. Junior Christian Bennett has run for 378 yards and two TDs on 71 carries.
After a Week 4 loss to Milton-Union, Lehman Catholic dominated Miami East last week. The Cavs forced six turnovers and had about 400 yards of offense.
Lehman senior QB Donovan O’Leary continues to lead TRC players in passing yards (939) and is tied for first in interceptions (3). He ranks second with 470 rushing yards. Junior RB Da’Ron Pride ranks third with 448 rushing yards. Sophomore receiver Turner Lachey ranks second in receiving yards (366).
Anna to host Delphos St. John’s
The Rockets will try to bounce back from a lopsided loss to Minster when they host St. John’s this Friday.
The Blue Jays (3-2, 1-2 Midwest Athletic Conference) broke a two-game losing streak with a 41-34 overtime win over Fort Recovery last week.
St. John’s averages 303 yards of offense and gives up an average of 308.6 yards per game.
Anna (2-3, 1-2) lost its second game in a row at Minster. The Rockets average 297.2 yards per game and allow an average of 342 yards per game.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.