TIPP CITY — Sidney has had troubles stopping wing-T teams from running the last two seasons. But what has been particularly bothersome is when those opponents have taken to the air.
That was the case against St. Marys in Week 1, when the Roughriders scored on two passes to help extend a one-touchdown lead to a three-touchdown lead in an eventual lopsided loss.
The Yellow Jackets have made strides this season and grounded Tippecanoe’s offense in a 16-10 win last Friday. They forced two turnovers in a lopsided win against Dayton Belmont in Week 3 and forced four turnovers against the Red Devils.
Tippecanoe quarterback Troy Taylor had more passes land in the hands of Sidney junior defensive back Darren Taborn than his own receivers. He was 2 for 6 for 14 yards with three interceptions, all of which Taborn picked off on deep throws.
“We get so geared up (against wing-T teams),” Sidney coach Adam Doenges said. “I made the analogy after St. Marys that we get ready for that fastball, taking another fastball and another fastball, that when that change up or curve ball comes, we’re not ready.
“We preached all week that when we came (to Tipp City) two years ago they hurt us on some stuff and last year they hurt us on some stuff like when safeties and corners were coming up and getting too greedy. …It was nice for that not to hurt us tonight.”
Taborn had 3.5 tackles along with his three picks. His three-interception performance now has him tied for first in the 20-team Greater Western Ohio Conference with four interceptions.
Tippecanoe had 231 yards of offense, which is the lowest any opponent has managed against Sidney this season. The Red Devils rushed for 217 yards on 44 carries.
“We just had to stop the run,” Taborn said. “It was all on that. We knew they weren’t going to pass on us. …I think we’ve watched more film, have more people on the field with heart. Everyone wants to play.”
Taborn is one of several two-way players for Sidney and came up with a big catch on the final drive of the game to help the team run out the clock.
After Taborn intercepted a pass at Sidney’s 12-yard line with 6:50 left, he later caught a pass on a third-and-10 play to give the Yellow Jackets a first down. Lathan Jones caught a first-down pass later on the drive.
Dunham and Jones were two of seven receivers who caught passes on Friday.
“I think the whole receiving corps can make big plays,” Taborn said. “We’re all big playmakers. I don’t think any secondary in the GWOC can stop us, for real.”
Sidney junior quarterback Ryan Dunham completed 18-of-25 passes for 181 yards with two touchdowns. Freshman Quamir “Philly” Brown led the squad with five catches, including a 17-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. Josiah Hudgins had a team-high 43 receiving yards on two catches, including a 38-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter that he hauled in with one hand.
“We don’t try to get the ball to one or two guys each week,” Doenges said. “It’s all about what the defense gives us. If we think we can get the ball to Quamir, he gets it. If Josiah has some good looks, we’ll get it to Josiah. I’m glad we had a lot of guys get touches tonight.”
Sidney junior kicker Hallie Truesdale returned after being held out against Piqua and looked back to normal health.
Truesdale made 1-of-2 extra points and hit a 26-yard field goal in the third quarter.
“It was big for her confidence,” Doenges said of Truesdale making a field goal. “If we had a couple of more yards we might have went for it, but she had a great week and we thought she could do it. She’s normally a very lively, bouncy girl at practice, and the last few weeks that wasn’t there. You could tell she was in pain.
“This week, she was lively again. Her kicks in practice have been excellent this week. I know she missed that one — which looked like it was good — but she still had confidence and a good demeanor on the sideline.”
Offensive line growth
Sidney has increasingly been able to rely on sustained drives this season instead of relying on big scoring plays. Doenges said a part of that growth has been due to the offensive line, which returned just two starters (Cooper Collingsworth and Dylan “Tank” Vanderpool) from last year.
“Our offensive line likes to say we’re a run-oriented team,” Doenges said. “Those guys want to run the ball. I’m proud of how they responded on the last drive when we needed to take some time off the clock and move the ball. Those lineman just kept pounding it and pounding it. I’m proud of Caleb Harris for hitting the line hard.”
Left tackle Zach Smothers didn’t play on Friday due to an injury, and Doenges said he was pleased with how Joey Bishop and Nick Benshoff played while rotating at the position.
Another lineman Doenges said he’s been pleased to watch progress this season is freshman Evan Kennedy, who had a pancake block on Brown’s second-quarter touchdown reception.
“You forget he’s a freshman, you really do,” Doenges said. “The skill guys, you see the freshmen mistakes here and there, and while Evan still has some of that freshman stuff there, he’s got the biggest motor on the team. He is full-go all the time. Usually freshman have some sort of a wall where at some point in the season, they just get tired because they’re used to a two-month season.
“His season now is five, six months counting all the lifting he’s done. We’ve never seen him relax one bit, so I really don’t consider him a freshman anymore, because he doesn’t act like it.”
Hudgins, who has 13 receptions for 155 yards this season, had his most dazziling catch yet on his first quarter touchdown reception.
He had about a one-step advantage over his defender and caught the pass from Dunham in stride a couple yards out from the end zone.
“We do practice a fair share of one-handed catches much to my chagrin, but you do hear wide receiver coaches say they do it at all levels,” Doenges said. “I’m not a huge fan of it, but I’m sure not going to complain when Josiah makes a play like that.”
Harris racking up rushing yards
Harris, a junior, is one pace for a 1,000-yard season.
He ran for a season-high 166 yards against Tippecanoe on 29 carries, in addition to catching two passes for 28 yards. He now has 769 rushing yards to his credit, which ranks fifth among GWOC players.
Sidney will now face its biggest challenge in GWOC American North Division play in Troy, which improved to 6-1 overall and 2-0 in league play with a 25-0 win over Butler on Friday.
The Trojans, which have won the league the last two years, held the Aviators to 146 yards. They’ve given up a GWOC-best average of 185.4 yards per game.
“They’re a good football team — there’s no doubt about it,” Doenges said. “We’ve seen them in film when we’ve prepped for Belmont and Tipp and even though we were focused on those guys, you keep going back to just how good (Troy) is and how physical they are on defense.
“It’s a good defensive football team and a well-coached football team. We’re going to have our work cut out for us, but we’re going to come back ready to go.”
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.