Versailles entered the 2018 season hoping to be able to have a breakout year after a 4-6 campaign the year before. But the season turned into an even greater struggle.
After improving to 2-3 with a shutout win over Delphos St. John’s in Week 5, Versailles lost its final five games and finished with its worst record since 2008.
Versailles lost most of its offensive skill players from 2017 and lost many defensive starters, including its entire linebacking corps.
The lack of experience was evident in Week 1, as the team lost 41-12 at Celina. Versailles gave up 370 rushing yards and 417 total yards of offense in the game while just managing to surpass 100 yards.
But the Tigers had an improved performance in Week 2 by beating Delphos Jefferson 47-14 in their home opener. They built a 33-6 lead by halftime, and eight different players helped the squad amass 242 rushing yards in the game. Senior Jake Poling led the way with 65 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries and junior quarterback Ryan Martin threw for 155 yards and one touchdown.
That success didn’t carry over to Week 3 when the team started MAC play at home against Coldwater. The Cavaliers scored the first five touchdowns and cruised to a 35-7 win. The Tigers had 179 yards of offense in the game while Coldwater had 369.
Versailles then lost 21-7 at Parkway in Week 4 in what was the Panthers’ first MAC win since 2016. Martin threw a long touchdown pass to Evan Hiestand to tie it 7-7 early in the first, but Parkway scored two touchdowns before halftime to wrap up scoring. The Panthers had 395 yards of offense while Versailles had 164.
The Tigers bounced back in Week 5 with a 27-0 win at home against Delphos St. John’s. They amassed 437 yards of offense and held the Blue Jays to 90 in the victory. Martin threw for 158 yards and one touchdown and ran for 139 yards while Poling ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.
Versailles couldn’t turn a victory into a streak, though, and lost 41-21 at Anna the following week. The Rockets scored the first three touchdowns, and the teams swapped scores from there. Anna had 451 yards of offense while Versailles had 434. Martin threw for 271 yards and ran for 69 yards in the game.
The Tigers then lost 49-14 at Marion Local in Week 7. After trading early scores, the Flyers scored six consecutive touchdowns to run away. Marion Local had 467 yards of offense while Versailles had 209. Martin again shined, as he threw for 147 yards and one touchdown and ran for 52 yards and a score.
Versailles then lost a heartbreaker at home against New Bremen in a rain-soaked game in Week 8. The Tigers took a 7-0 lead in the second quarter on a 50-yard pass from Martin to Michael Stammen, but New Bremen scored two touchdowns in the second half to rally.
Versailles was shutout 32-0 by Minster in its last home game in Week 9 and then lost 33-14 to Fort Recovery on the road in Week 10.
Versailles senior Evan Hiestand was named first team all-MAC after the season as a defensive end and was second team all-MAC as an offensive end. He was also named first team all-Southwest district in Division V as a defensive end. He had 72 tackles (11 for loss) and 11 sacks during the season.
Versailles coach Adam Miller resigned after the season. He went 30-32 in seven seasons.
Miller has been replaced by Ryan Jones, who left Troy Christian to take the job last February.
The Tigers will open the 2019 season on Aug. 30 at home against Celina.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.