SIDNEY — It’s not experience Sidney necessarily wanted to gain. But when the Yellow Jackets have lost this season, they’ve rebounded the following the week.
Sidney will try for what could be its biggest rebound of the season when it travels to Tippecanoe on Friday for a Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division game.
It’s a key game for both the Red Devils (3-3) and Yellow Jackets (3-3), as both lost their GWOC North openers last week. Sidney lost 14-12 at home to archrival Piqua, while the Red Devils lost 49-14 to neighbor Troy.
A win would keep the Yellow Jackets in the GWOC North title race, while a loss would probably drop them out, in addition to dropping them to 3-4 overall heading into Week 8’s matchup at Troy (5-1, 1-0).
“We knew going into the last part of our schedule here and were telling our kids that the majority of our games are coin flips,” Sidney coach Adam Doenges said. “It’s going to come down to not making drastic mistakes, who’s going to make the bigger plays, and turnovers.
“… It’s going to be another one of those weeks against Tipp. It’s going to come down to who makes the bigger play in the end and turnovers.”
The game will also be another test against a wing-T running opponent for Sidney, which gave up 347 rushing yards in a 49-42 win over Tippecanoe last year.
The Yellow Jackets have contained rushing opponents a bit better this season than last. St. Marys gained 240 rushing yards against Sidney in Week 1, while Belmont gained 302 rushing yards in Week 3. Doenges said he thinks scrimmages against Clinton-Massie and Edgewood helped the team’s progress.
“We fortified our preseason schedule with teams that are hard-nosed running teams,” Doenges said. “… Hopefully that has helped to put us in a position to keep competing with good, hard-nosed running teams. Tipp is another historic team that is going to run the ball. That’s their bread and butter, and we’re going to have to get ourselves lined up and get ready to play.”
Aside from a 17-9 Week 1 loss to Bellbrook, Tippecanoe has either been on the winning or losing side of blowouts. The Red Devils won in lopsided fashion against Springfield Shawnee, West Carrollton and Stebbins and lost by over 20 points to Northmont and Troy.
Tippecanoe’s wing-T offense has mostly moved the ball on the ground. The Red Devils average 266 rushing yards and 77 passing yards per game while scoring an average of 30.5 points.
Senior running back Josh Burritt has rushed for a team-high 582 yards and five touchdown on 51 carries while senior RB Cade Beam has rushed for 421 yards and eight touchdowns on 88 carries. Senior Jackson Yeager has gained 227 yards and senior Ben Ambos has rushed for 123.
Sophomore quarterback Troy Taylor has completed 27-of-46 passes for 430 yards and five touchdowns with four interceptions. Burritt leads the team with seven receptions for 160 yards with three touchdowns.
“Everyone’s got their own little quarks in the way they (run the wing-T), but the way they do it is like a lot of others, where they try to formation you to death and out-align you,” Doenges said. “They’re no different as far as their shifts and motions. They try to get you to line up incorrectly and find a crease and take advantage of it.
“Defensively, they’ll do the same thing. They’ll move guys all over the place and bring guys from different spots. They’re a hard team to prepare for because of how much movement they do on both sides of the ball before the ball is snapped.”
The Red Devils have allowed an average of 312.3 yards and 19.5 points per game. Beam, who plays at linebacker, has a team high 28 tackles while senior defensive back Brad Detwiller has 26.
Sidney averages 322 yards and 22.5 points per game. They amassed 311 yards last week against Piqua, with 191 coming from passing and 120 coming from rushing.
Senior running back Caleb Harris had his third consecutive game of over 100 rushing yards, while junior quarterback Ryan Dunham had his fifth consecutive game with over 120 passing yards.
Doenges says he’s hopeful the Yellow Jackets can continue to move the ball well against Tippecanoe.
“We’re going to try to do what the defense allows us to do,” Doenges said. “Piqua came out a little more high than we anticipated, so the run game found some creases and get some movement. Tipp might throw a 3-front at us, they could 4-front, they could go to a 5-front.
“They’re one of those teams that’s frustrating to line up against because you don’t know from series to series or play to play what you’re going to get from them. Our kids are just going to have to be role-oriented, and no matter what they throw at us, we’ve got to be ready to come off the ball and drive people.”
Since Tipp joined the GWOC in 2016, the two schools have played a pair of close games. The Red Devils scored 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to beat Sidney 31-21 in Tipp City two years ago. Last year, the Yellow Jackets scored a touchdown with under two minutes left to earn a seven-point win.
Doenges said he’s looking forward to returning to Tipp City Park and playing on the school’s new field turf, which was installed over the summer. It replaces a grass field that frequently contained as much dirt/mud as grass.
“This one of those games late in the year where both teams know each other really, really well, just like we knew Piqua and Piqua knew us,” Doenges said. “You’re going to have to make a little adjustments in game. We’re looking forward to heading down there and playing on the new turf and trying to bounce back.”
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.