WEST CARROLLTON — After Sidney’s offense had sputtered for much of the last four weeks, the coaching staff decided to change things up heading into a Miami Valley League at West Carrollton.
The Yellow Jackets adjusted their normal shotgun formation and brought another player into the backfield for most of the night in more of a pistol look. They also stayed on the ground for most of their plays.
What resulted was the team’s best offensive night of the season. Sidney posted season highs in yards and points and also gained the most yards West Carrollton has allowed to an opponent this season in a 49-25 victory on Friday at DOC Stadium.
It was the first of what Sidney (3-5, 2-3 MVL Valley) is hoping will be three consecutive wins to end the season. If the squad wins its final two games and finishes 5-5, it will be the third consecutive year it has finished .500 or better — a streak that hasn’t happened since 1974-76.
“That would be big for us,” Sidney sophomore running back E.J. Davis said. “That’d be something for our senior class. It hasn’t happened in the last 40-something years, so we’re just doing it for our seniors so they have something good to leave out of high school with.”
The Yellow Jackets will look to take their next step toward a .500 finish when they host Stebbins (2-6, 1-6) next Friday at Sidney Memorial Stadium. The Indians broke a six-game losing streak with a 21-13 victory over Vandalia-Butler last Friday.
“That might not be a big deal to other communities, and by no means do we want to have 5-5 the goal year-in and year-out,” Sidney coach Adam Doenges said. “But in terms of things to play for, it’s huge, and if we can send the senior class out like that, I think that says something for us. We had to take care of business tonight and we did, and we have to take care of business on senior night next week.”
Davis was a big reason the Yellow Jackets’ offense moved well on Friday. He amassed 281 rushing yards and scored four touchdowns on 23 carries and also caught an 8-yard touchdown pass.
He credited the team’s offensive line and receiving corps for helping with the performance.
“I told our line to keep blocking and working hard and for our receivers to keep stalk blocking, and it paid off,” Davis said.
Sidney junior backup quarterback Cedric Johnson started in place of senior Ryan Dunham, who was injured in a game against Fairborn two weeks ago. Dunham played a couple of series on Friday, but the squad found success running the ball with Johnson under center. It amassed 411 total yards of offense, 402 of which came on the ground.
Though the Pirates (1-7, 1-4) have struggled on defense and given up 34 or more points in five of their first seven games, they hadn’t yet allowed over 390 yards to an opponent. It’s the first time Sidney has surpassed 400 yards in a game and the fourth time they’ve surpassed 300 yards this season.
“We wanted to run the football and get back to what was working for us at the beginning of the year and do some things that maybe we got away from,” Sidney coach Adam Doenges said. “We did a lot of two-back stuff and had Lathan Jones in the backfield (with Davis and Johnson). Lathan did a nice job of running the football, and that also gave a chance for E.J. Davis to go block. Let alone running the football, he’s a tremendous blocker.”
Sidney led 21-13 at halftime, and its offensive success grew in the second half. Davis scored four of his five touchdowns in the half to help the Yellow Jackets pull away, that last one of which he surpassed 1,000 rushing yards for the season on. He has 1,050 rushing yards this season and is the first sophomore in program history to have 1,000 yards in a season.
“That says a lot to him and how special of a player he is,” Doenges said. “That also says a lot for our O-line, a lot to our quarterback and a lot to our receivers who have to block and stuff.”
The Yellow Jackets held West Carrollton to 324 yards — over 200 less than the squad amassed in a 39-34 victory over Piqua two weeks ago at DOC Stadium. Sophomore quarterback Kamuary Cleveland completed 18-of-26 passes for 213 yards and ran for 82 yards on 14 carries.
Sidney also came up with a pair of turnovers in the first half and held the Pirates to a combined 9-of-10 on third- and fourth-down conversion tries.
“We bent a little bit, but when he had to, we clamped down, and I was proud of the kids,” Doenges said. “Their (quarterback) is a special kid and is going to be a problem the next few years. (West Carrollton coach) Dion Black is a great coach and is going to do a great job here and hold these kids to a high standard. This league’s going to be a lot of fun in the coming years.”
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.