SIDNEY — Sidney junior running back E.J. Davis was the squad’s main offensive player a year ago but hasn’t had to nearly single-handily carry the load this season as he did at times last year.
But even when the ball isn’t in his hands, Davis is still a big reason why the Yellow Jackets are doing well offensively.
Davis ran for 1,329 yards last season and accounted for over half of Sidney’s total offensive yardage on the year, even though he missed 1.5 games after suffering an injury midway through a game at Piqua.
The Yellow Jackets have spread it out this year. Receivers Avante Martin, Sam Reynolds, Jacob Wheeler and Izayah Clarke all have over 200 receiving yards apiece, and quarterback Cedric Johnson has run for 215 yards and three touchdowns.
“It’s a lot different,” Davis said. “It’s gone from getting the ball every play last year, now sometimes getting the ball barely at all, and when I’m getting the ball, I’m not doing what I was doing running the ball last year.
“But I’m still getting my gains in, and I’m just worried about helping my team, because I’m not worried about myself anymore. It’s everything for them now.”
Though the Yellow Jackets stalled in critical situations in losses in Weeks 2 and 3, they’ve been moving well the last two weeks and are moving overall more than last year.
Sidney is averaging 310 years and 28.6 points per game, which is an increase of 57 yards and 11 points per game last year.
Part of the increase according to coach Adam Doenges is due to Davis blocking more.
Doenges has said Davis is one of the best blocking running backs he’s ever seen, and he and first-year offensive coordinator Britton Devier make sure Davis is involved when he’s not carrying the ball.
The Yellow Jackets have also benefited from junior Devin Taborn assisting in blocking. Taborn, who started at linebacker last year, is also seeing time at running back this season.
“At the end of the day, he just wants to win,” Doenges said of Davis. “… It’s almost like a fight between (Davis and Taborn) to see who doesn’t get the football so the other one can block. You can almost see the disappointment when they know they have to carry the ball and the other one gets to block. Those two just love to hit people.”
He ranks fourth overall in the 10-team Miami Valley League with 401 rushing yards and has scored seven rushing TDs for the Yellow Jackets (3-2).
Sidney was playing without three starting offensive linemen against the Pirates and had a season-high 41 rushing attempts. Taborn finished with 39 rushing yards on 12 carries and scored two TDs.
With the depleted line, Sidney used a two-running back shotgun formation for part of the game and played Davis and Taborn at the same time. The duo normally split time when the team uses a traditional shotgun formation with one RB and four receivers.
“We’ll continue looking to use that as we keep moving forward,” Doenges said.
Sidney will host archrival Piqua (5-0) on Friday.
“We’ve seen some stuff on them already (while looking at other opponents),” Doenges said Friday. “They’re a great football team. It seems like they’re opening things up a little bit more on offense, and of course they’ve got great defense, as they’ve had under Bill Nees for 28 years or however long he’s been coaching.
“… At the end of the day, it’s Piqua, and they’re physical. Our guys have pretty much already turned the page and are ready to roll (on Friday).”
Lehman Catholic’s game against Lima Perry postponed
The Cavaliers won’t play for a second consecutive week due to a COVID-19 outbreak at the school.
Lehman postponed its Northwest Central Conference game scheduled for last Friday against Waynesfield-Goshen due to coronavirus cases at the school.
Lehman Catholic coach Dick Roll said last week after the first postponement he was holding out hope the squad would face Perry this Saturday at Sidney Memorial Stadium. Instead, the Cavaliers had to postpone the game, which was supposed to be the team’s homecoming contest.
The Cavaliers’ next scheduled game will be a playoff contest next weekend against an opponent to be determined.
Fort Loramie 2nd in D-VII
Fort Loramie is ranked second in Division VII in this week’s state Associated Press poll. The Redskins (5-0) are behind No. 1 Marion Local, which is undefeated.
Playoff seed voting ongoing
Coaches around the state are voting online for seeding in the first postseason tournament that is open to all squads.
Voting for coaches started on Tuesday and ends Wednesday night. Coaches are able to vote to seed teams in the region their team plays.
Playoff pairings and complete brackets will be announced by the Ohio High School Athletic Association on Thursday.
The cash-strapped OHSAA Association — which generates most of its revenue from tournament ticket sales — announced in early August every team would be eligible for the playoffs this season. It shortened the regular season to six weeks and extended postseason play to seven weeks, though teams can play additional regular-season games after they’ve been eliminated from the playoffs.
The overall season length of 13 weeks to two weeks shorter than normal. The OHSAA said in early August it was shortening the season by two weeks due to concerns of state government officials of a COVID-19 surge in early winter.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.