SIDNEY — The season hasn’t gone how Sidney’s football team hoped, but there are still goals to aim for heading into the final game of the season on Friday, including earning the Little Brown Jug for a fourth consecutive year.
The Yellow Jackets will travel to Harmon Field to face Greenville in a Miami Valley League game at 7 p.m. on Friday and will try to win the matchup for the fourth consecutive year to earn the traveling trophy the game’s winner claims.
“It’s important to our kids, and it’s nice to able to have a rivalry game at the end of the year,” Sidney coach Adam Doenges said. “… That helps out with the gate in Week 10 and gives everyone something to play for.”
Sidney (3-6, 2-4 MVL Valley) will try to spoil Greenville’s MVL Miami Division title and playoff hopes on Friday.
The Green Wave have struggled in recent years but will finish above .500 for the first time since 2008 and would tie for the division title by beating Sidney and Piqua beating Troy on Friday.
A win over the Yellow Jackets would also keep hopes of a playoff berth alive. Greenville (6-3, 5-2) has a 24 percent chance of earning a playoff berth in Div. III, Region 12 if it wins on Friday according to Drew Pastuer’s Fantastic 50.
Winning the matchup for a fourth-straight year and playing spoiler aren’t Sidney’s only motivation, though.
“Winning your last game definitely makes everything a little easier going into the offseason,” Doenges said. “Sometimes you can use a loss to your advantage, but winning’s easier.”
Greenville’s improvement has been led by first-year coach Bart Schmitz, who succeeded Aaron Shaffer when the latter became the school’s athletic director last year.
Schmitz played on state title teams at Versailles while his father Dave Schmitz served as Versailles’ longtime coach Al Hetrick’s defensive coordinator. The elder Schmitz is serving in the same role for his son, and the Green Wave is vastly improved under his leadership.
Greenville gave up an average of 375 yards and 37 points per game last year but has cut those averages to 250 and 16.6, respectively, this season.
“They do a really, really nice job across the board,” Doenges said. “They do a really nice job with their run fits. It’s nothing flashy, but they just always have kids in the right spots.”
Senior linebacker John Butsch is the team’s leading tackler. He has 49 tackles to his credit and has two interceptions and two forced fumbles. He’s aided by junior linebacker Hadyn Sharp, who has made 40 tackles.
The backfield is led by junior Connor Mills (48.5 tackles, three interceptions) and senior Marcus Wood (30, three). The line is led by senior Tytan Grote (24 tackles, two fumble recoveries) and sophomore DJ Zimmer (25, one).
“Those guys are all-league type players,” Doenges said. “Having two good linebackers, two good defensive backs and two good defensive lineman makes their defense really special.”
The Green Wave’s offense averages 221 yards and 15.3 points per game. Senior quarterback Tyler Beyke has thrown for 1,080 yards and nine touchdowns with 13 interceptions and has rushed for a team-best 345 yards and four touchdowns on 132 carries.
“They do a lot of read stuff with him, similar stuff to what we’ve seen the last few weeks with what Stebbins, West Carrollton and Troy do,” Doenges said. “We’re all kind of running the same variations of that. It’s not overly fancy stuff, but they run it well.”
The Yellow Jackets will try to rebound after an error-filled 23-21 loss to Stebbins last Friday. They had two costly turnovers and several costly penalties that led to two of the Indians’ touchdowns.
The squad will also try for more consistency on offense after stalling on third downs. Sidney converted 4-of-10 third down attempts against Stebbins.
“We’ve got to set ourselves for third downs,” Doenges said. “That’s been something we’ve been working on all year. Three-and-outs just kill us. We started off the (Stebbins) game with a three-and-out, and it set the tone early and took us awhile to get going.
“You don’t necessarily have to score every drive, but you’ve got to pick up some first downs and help yourself with field position and try to flip the field, even if it results in a punt. That starts on doing better on first and second downs to put us in better positions on third downs.”
Sidney sophomore running back E.J. Davis will also try to secure his status as the MVL’s rushing rusher in the game. He’s run for a league-best 1,192 yards and on 142 carries and has a sizeable lead over Troy senior Kevin Walters III, who’s rushed for 1,064 yards on 156 carries.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.