SIDNEY — Sidney has bounced back from losses three times this season and will try for a fourth in a Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division game on Friday.
The Yellow Jackets (4-4, 1-2 GWOC North) will look to move on from last week’s 19-point loss to Troy when they return home to Sidney Memorial Stadium to host Vandalia-Butler (5-3, 2-1) on Friday.
Bouncing back may not have been something they wanted to be experienced with by the end of the season since it requires losing, but they’ve proven as bounceable as an over-inflated basketball: the harder they’ve been slammed, the higher they’ve went.
After losing 35-7 in Week 1 to St. Marys, Sidney responded the next week with a 31-28 win over Bellefontaine. After a 41-7 loss to Trotwood in Week 4, they came back and beat Fairborn 40-12 the following Friday. And after a 14-12 loss to Piqua in Week 6, they beat Tippecanoe 16-10.
“They’ve done it every Sunday when the varsity comes in to lift,” Sidney coach Adam Doenges said. “They’re ready to turn the page, whether we win or lose. I like that I’ve seen that this week. They’re not lingering (on the Troy loss).
“We’ve got two home games here to finish out the season, which is kind of nice. But we can’t relax. …Our concentration now is to finish the season above .500, and in order to do that, we need to get Butler.”
The Yellow Jackets finished 10-2 last season and can finish 6-4 with wins over Butler and Greenville in the last two weeks of the season. If that happens, it will be the first time the program has posted consecutive winning records since 1995 and 1996, when it went 6-4 and 7-3.
Doenges said the team is looking forward to the challenge and further proving naysayers who predicted a steep drop-off from last season wrong.
Trying to do that won’t be easy against Butler, which beat Piqua 27-25 last Friday. The Aviators scored the first four touchdowns of the game, only to have Piqua score four touchdowns in the second half and come up short due to missed PATs.
Butler fell to 2-2 after a lopsided loss in Week 4 to rival Northmont, but it has since won three of its last four, including a 13-7 overtime win against Xenia (5-3).
The Aviators, which finished 4-6 last year, are looking to continue their resurgence under first-year coach Jordan Puckett. The improvement this year has come after the loss of several players due to injuries.
“They’ve lost a couple of different kids that were really, really good football players,” Doenges said. “With having a new coaching staff and then losing some guys, it can be difficult, but I’m really, really impressed that with all that stuff, they’ve got a pretty good product on the field.
“I expect it to be a really close game, similar to what we had with Tipp City and Piqua. I think it’s going to come down to thin margins of error to who’s going to be victorious.”
Butler averages 24.9 points and 287.9 yards per game. Senior quarterback Mason Motter has completed 67-of-130 passes for 814 yards and nine touchdowns with two interceptions, while senior running back Ryan Martin has rushed for 899 yards and 13 touchdowns on 153 carries.
Blake Ross (14 receptions, 180 yards), Ryan Wilson (13, 158) and Connor Hendricks (12, 103) are among Butler’s receiving leaders. Senior Bryant Johnson (12 receptions, 273 yards) was the team’s leading receiver before breaking his collar bone during a Week 3 game against Wilmington.
“Offensively, they’re a little similar to Troy and to us,” Doenges said. “They probably use a tight-end formation a little bit more than maybe Troy, but they still do a lot of run-pass option like Troy and similar to us. We believe from the last couple of weeks that they’re going to try to be more run-oriented, but we’ve got to be ready for both.
“You can say they’re kind of young because they’re playing some freshmen …but they’re still very senior-oriented on the lines and at the skill positions on both sides of the ball.”
Butler’s defense allows an average of 291.8 yards and 23.9 points per game. Nicholas Coyle leads the team with 69 tackles, 61 of which are solo. He’s also recovered three fumbles and recorded two sacks.
“They’ve had a similar trajectory as us defensively. They’ve got a lot better as the year’s went on,” Doenges said. “Their calling card this year with that new staff is toughness. You can see they are a tougher team from last year and they’ve gotten tougher as this year’s went on. You can see they wanted to make a point on being a tough-minded defensive team, and it definitely shows.”
Doenges said he was pleased with Sidney’s defensive performance last Friday. They Yellow Jackets held Troy to 253 yards, including an average of three yards per carry.
The big area Sidney needs improvement over last Friday is turnovers. Sidney had six interceptions against Troy after having no turnovers the previous two games.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.