SIDNEY — Sidney football coach Adam Doenges served as the school’s freshmen basketball coach for two years shortly after he joined the school district in 2005.
In that time, he never saw as many points scored as he saw while watching film on New Richmond, who will travel to Sidney Memorial Stadium on Friday.
The Lions won their Week 2 Southern Buckeye Athletic/Academic Conference matchup with Mount Orab Western Brown — wait for it — 77-61.
“To be honest, when I was coaching freshmen, it was not often teams were scoring above 60,” Doenges said. “Some of our opponents could score that much and maybe a couple got to 77, but a lot games, we were in the 30s or 40s.”
Basketball scores are just one of many odd occurrences that likely will continue to show up during a football season in which teams are playing around the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health restrictions limited teams’ offseason training activities through spring and summer. Gov. Mike DeWine didn’t give the go-ahead for games to be played until 10 days before the OHSAA’s calendar called for regular-season play to start. Some teams like Fort Loramie were able to fit in one scrimmage before the start of the season, but many across the state weren’t.
The effects of diminished training time have been evident so far, with turnovers and special teams touchdowns occurring more frequently than normal regular-season games. There were at least six turnovers committed in four area games last Friday.
“With just having one scrimmage and no 7-on-7’s, I think it’s safe to say most teams playing high school football right now are still working the kinks out a little bit,” Fort Loramie coach Spencer Wells said.
New Richmond at Sidney
The Yellow Jackets had prepped all through Labor Day weekend for a Miami Valley League matchup with West Carrollton set for Friday.
All the notes on the Pirates got shelved Tuesday, though. West Carrollton had a player test positive for COVID-19 and cancelled its next two games as a result.
Sidney (1-1) scrambled and was able to hastily schedule New Richmond (2-0) for Friday’s senior night game. The Lions are a Division III program and finished 5-5 last year after winning seven or more games each of the last seven seasons in a stacked SBAAC, which also includes perennial state D-IV power Clinton-Massie.
“I thought preparing for Greenville (Week 1) was tough (when neither team had scrimmaged),” Doenges said. “But even though (Greenville) had lost a lot of players (to graduation) and we had no film on them, we knew it was the same coaching staff back. We had a decent idea what to expect; they’ve been a common opponent for a while.
“Now we’ve got to turn around and see an opponent we’ve never seen and have no familiarity with, and you’ve got to do it starting on a Tuesday night.”
Despite being outgained 423 yards to 227, New Richmond took advantage of six turnovers and won a Week 1 SBAAC matchup with Bethel-Tate 27-18.
Then came Week 2’s 138-point shootout. The Lions gave up 726 yards of offense against Western Brown but were even more explosive themselves in a 16-point win.
Senior quarterback Luke Lytle accounted for 47 points in the win while junior Bo Snider scored touchdowns on three kick returns.
New Richmond averaged 334 yards of offense and 28.7 points per game last year and gave up an average of 318 yards and 25 points. Lytle threw for 1,184 yards and 12 TDs with seven interceptions and ran for 571 yards and seven TDs.
“He’s a nice player and can do some nice things,” Doenges said of Lytle. “They do some nice things on offense as far as trying to get the ball to their playmakers. They’re going to throw the ball up and have their big, tall receivers come down with it.
“… They do a lot of run-pass option, where (Lytle) can pull the ball out if he doesn’t like the run look and fling it out to a receiver. It’s going to be a big task for our defense this week.”
“I was happy with how our kids handled the situation,” Doenges said. “I think that’s another sign of a year of growth and improvement from our kids. We had a good mindset after we got back in the bus. It’s not that they were satisfied with the loss; they were discouraged.
“But there was no finger-pointing or blaming. They all owned up to their own mistakes. When we went over the film with the kids, every single one of them understood that they have to get better as an individual. The coaches all owned up to their mistakes, and it’s been a good week of practice, even though we’ve prepared for two different teams.”
The Yellow Jackets have found success through the air on offense through the first two games. Senior quarterback Cedric Johnson has thrown for 370 yards and four TDs with one interception. Seven players have caught passes, and junior running back E.J. Davis has led the squad’s rushing attack with 131 yards and five TDs.
Doenges said the squad’s offense has had a good week of practice after stalling in the second half against Stebbins.
“I think the MVL is really, really good across the board; I don’t think there’s going to be one team that runs away with it,” Doenges said. “When you’re playing a lot of good, evenly-matched teams, 90 percent of the game is going to be a draw. You’re looking at five or six plays that are going to decide the game.
“We picked out five or six plays last Friday where (Stebbins) didn’t do anything special on, we just hurt ourselves. Two of those go our way, and we probably win that game. …This week, we need to be on the top side of those five or six plays.”
After scrambling to find an opponent on Tuesday, Doenges said he’s happy the squad will be able to play on Friday, which will be the team’s first home game of the season and its senior night.
“We made a commitment at the beginning of the year to our kids that we had an administration, from the superintendent to principals to AD to coaching staff, that is going to do the best we can to get our kids 10-plus games,” Doenges said. “We’ll do whatever we have to do.
“… I like where our kids’ minds are at. They just want to show up and play football. It doesn’t matter where it’s at or who it’s against. I don’t think we’re done with the surprises yet and are going to get a few more over the next eight, 10 weeks. We’re just going to keep rolling with the punches.”
Miami East at Fort Loramie
Seven of Fort Loramie’s eight Cross County Conference games last season were decided by running-clock margins of 30 or more points. There weren’t many times the squad found itself close at halftime.
But it did in a season opener against Tri-County North; the Redskins went to the locker room with a 14-0 lead. Since then, though, it’s been full steam ahead.
The Redskins added four more TDs in the second half to beat the Panthers 42-0, then blasted Bethel 61-7 last week to improve to 2-0.
“We’re definitely getting better each week, and that’s our goal, especially early on,” Wells said. “Last week against Bethel, we really thought that we really started to correct a lot of the issues we saw from Week 1 on film. That was good to see that some of things we made a focus to improve on, we improved on.”
The Redskins will try for another dominating performance Friday against Miami East. The Vikings edged Twin Valley South 7-6 in Week 1 and lost 43-14 to Covington last week. They pulled within 27-14 in the third quarter, but Covington scored the final 16 points.
“They’re always big and always have size up front,” Wells said of Miami East. “They play a wing-T, and any time you face a wing-T team, you better be disciplined on defense, because the moment that you’re not, they can bust it for a big play.”
Fort Loramie’s varsity players haven’t allowed a touchdown yet; Bethel’s TD came in the final minutes against JV players.
“I think our defense has done a really nice job,” Wells said. “… Our position coaches have done an outstanding job at not being complacent. …It would be really easy to get complacent when you’re not giving up many points, many yards or many first downs.
“Our coaches and our senior players have done a good job keeping the urgency up on that side of the ball. They’re saying, ‘Hey, we’re not where we need to be yet, we’ve still got things to improve on.”
Fort Loramie lost senior running back/defensive back Damon Mescher for the season in Week 1 due to a shoulder injury but have several other senior returnees leading the way this year, including quarterback Collin Moore, who threw for 162 yards and two TDs against Tri-County North.
“We need to continue to clean up things across the board, but we’re doing a good job,” Wells said. “Collin has done a great job in the run game. When you’ve got a quarterback that makes good decisions like him and is such a physical runner, you’re in good shape. He’s really stood out in leading our offense.”
The team also has several other senior multiple-year starters including running back/linebacker Nate Meyer, linebacker/running back Max Hoying and senior lineman Mack Fortman.
“We’re relying on those guys,” Wells said of the team’s 16 seniors. “Across the board, our senior leadership has been outstanding. They’ve led the way.”
Wells said senior newcomers Tyler Luthman and Brock Ruhenkamp have played well at linebacker and defensive end, respectively. Wells said senior cornerbacks Nick Barhorst and Lucas Puthoff and receiver/defensive back Sam Barhorst have made a big impact, as has sophomore receiver Logan Eilerman, who has caught two touchdown passes in each game.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.