SIDNEY — Sidney’s seniors have a chance to go down among the school’s most successful groups by beating Greenville in a Greater Western Ohio Conference game on Friday.
If the Yellow Jackets beat the Green Wave at Sidney Memorial Stadium, the senior class will be the program’s first since the class of 1991 to finish .500 or better in three of four seasons.
It’s a legacy Sidney coach Adam Doenges said the group wants to achieve — along with the chance at winning the Little Brown Jug for the third consecutive year. Greenville claimed the traveling trophy with a 13-12 victory when the current seniors were freshmen, but the Yellow Jackets won 42-27 in 2016 and 40-8 last year.
“It’s always important to finish the season with a win, and ending the year for three years of their high school football careers with a win against Greenville is a good legacy,” Doenges said. “It’s important to them to hold that Jug for the third-straight year and not give it up.
“Program-wise, it’s a lot easier to go into the offseason with a winning taste in your mouth.”
In the four years the class of 1991 was at Sidney, the team posted a combined 24-19 record. The Yellow Jackets were 7-3 in 1987, 2-8 in ’88, 9-4 in ’89 and 6-4 in ’90.
A win over Greenville on Friday would push the class of 2019’s record over four years to 25-17. Sidney finished 6-4 in 2015, 4-6 in ’16, 10-2 last year and would finish 5-5 with a win over Greenville. With a win, Sidney would also finish .500 or better for the second consecutive season for the first time since 1995-96.
There will be plenty motivation for the Green Wave (3-6) on Friday. Aside from avoiding losing to Sidney (4-5) for three consecutive seasons, the game will be the last for coach Aaron Shaffer, who will soon give up the position to become the school’s athletic director.
Greenville could also avoid leaving a bad legacy in its last game as a GWOC member.
It will be both school’s last GWOC American North Division game. Both are among 10 GWOC American League schools that are leaving the conference and reforming the Miami Valley League, which will begin play next year.
Of the six departing American North schools, only Greenville is without a divisional win the last three years. The program’s last win over an American North opponent was the 2015 defeat of Sidney.
Greenville opened this season with lopsided wins over Eaton and Stebbins but then lost the next two weeks to Chaminade-Julienne and Xenia by a combined 93-16 score.
“I think you’re looking at two football teams that, to use a metaphor, are a bit of wounded animals,” Doenges said. “You can kind of go one way and not practice real hard or come out fighting real hard. …That makes this game important to both teams. You want to come out fighting hard and win, even though our seasons haven’t gone the way we wanted them to.”
Greenville has lost each of its previous four divisional games by at least 16 points but played divisional leader Troy close in the first half last week. The Trojans led 20-12 at halftime before pulling away by scoring four unanswered touchdowns in the second half.
“They’re banged up a little bit right now, as are most teams this time of the year, and your team depth can go a long way to kind of get through practice and play football games for two halves,” Doenges said.
The Green Wave averages 282 yards and 20.8 points per game.
Junior quarterback Tyler Beyke has thrown for 1,109 yards and six touchdowns with 11 interceptions and has rushed for 212 yards and three TDs. Running back Di’Maurye Ewing has rushed for 214 and two touchdowns. Marcus Woods leads the team with 44 receptions for 537 yards and has caught five touchdown passes. John Butsch has 11 receptions for 230 yards.
The team’s leading rusher is senior Landon Eldridge, who has 969 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns to his credit. Doenges said Eldridge is injured and won’t play on Friday. Eldridge, who didn’t play last week against Troy, has struggled with injures throughout his career.
“We’re going to see more two-back stuff from them than we have (from our opponents) the last two weeks,” Doenges said. “Woods is a pretty special athlete and plays both sides. …They’ve been doing some different things here at the end of the year because of a couple of key injuries, but it’s still Greenville. It’s still a good rival for us.”
The Green Wave ranked 18th in the 20-team GWOC defensively in yards allowed (381.1) and points allowed (35.1) per game.
Sidney’s offensive production has dropped the last few weeks in rainy conditions. After having just one turnover in Weeks 5, 6 and 7, the Yellow Jackets committed 10 turnovers (including eight interceptions) the last two weeks against Troy and Vandalia-Butler.
With more rain in the forecast on Friday, Doenges said the team is working more in practice to improve its passing ability heading into the season finale.
“We’ve got to make better decisions offensively,” Doenges said. “The quarterback’s going to get the interception in the stats, but when you go back and look at it, sometimes it’s receivers running the wrong routes. Not all the times, but sometimes. They’ve got to take it upon themselves to make sure it’s getting done the right way.
“In the end, we’ve got to get better play out of the quarterback and get more sound play offensively and defensively. We’ve put together some good drives and just haven’t been able to finish it, whether it’s putting the ball on the ground or us not picking up a blitz at the line or the receivers dropping it when it should have been caught. We’ve just got to finish drives.”
Sidney senior running back Caleb Harris enters Friday’s game 110 yards short of reaching 1,000 rushing yards this season. He’s scored five rushing touchdowns and has also caught 13 passes for 148 yards.
Sidney junior quarterback Ryan Dunham has thrown for 1,371 yards and 13 touchdowns with 17 interceptions this year.
Senior Ratez Roberts leads the team in receptions (26) and is second in receiving yards (315), while junior Lathan Jones leads the team in receiving yards (385) and is second in receptions (23). Roberts and Jones each have three touchdown receptions, as does junior Darren Taborn (16 catches, 258 yards). Senior Josiah Hudgins (14 catches, 163 yards) leads the team with four TDs.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.