Football: Sidney beats Stebbins, stays in MVL Valley title hunt


Yellow Jackets can win Valley Division title by beating Xenia Friday

By Bryant Billing - bbilling@sidneydailynews.com



Sidney senior quarterback Donavin Johnson runs for a touchdown during the third quarter of a Miami Valley League Valley Division game on Friday at Sidney Memorial Stadium. Johnson threw for 84 yards and ran for 33 yards.

Sidney senior quarterback Donavin Johnson runs for a touchdown during the third quarter of a Miami Valley League Valley Division game on Friday at Sidney Memorial Stadium. Johnson threw for 84 yards and ran for 33 yards.


Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

Sidney's EJ Davis runs for a touchdown against Stebbins at Sidney Memorial Stadium on Friday.


Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

Sidney's Julius Spradling has room to run against Stebbins at Sidney Memorial Stadium on Friday.


Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

Sidney's Sam Reynolds outruns Stebbins' Lavell Lyles at Sidney Memorial Stadium on Friday.


Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

Sidney's Nick Spriggs-Leckey lunges for Stebbins' Nate Keller at Sidney Memorial Stadium on Friday.


Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

Sidney senior running back EJ Davis collides with Stebbins’ Dalton King during a Miami Valley League Valley Division game on Friday at Sidney Memorial Stadium. Davis ran for 195 yards and two touchdowns in the 35-20 win.


Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

SIDNEY — A week after a disappointing loss to Fort Loramie, Sidney’s season looked like it could have been the next thing to over in the second quarter of a Miami Valley League Valley Division game against Stebbins.

The Yellow Jackets fell behind by two touchdowns by the midpoint of the second quarter to the Indians, which won two matchups by a combined three points last year.

But Sidney rallied to keep its season and hopes of a rare conference title alive.

The Yellow Jackets scored four touchdowns in the second half to earn a 35-20 victory on senior night at Sidney Memorial Stadium. They racked up a season-high 357 yards of offense and held Stebbins to a season-low 318.

“I’m proud as heck of them,” Sidney coach Adam Doenges said. “We have not had things go our way this year. The kids had a great week of practice, and I’m proud of all 21 of those seniors. The kids followed those seniors this week.

“They could have very easily fallen over, and not one of them did it. I’m very proud of that.”

Aside from bouncing back from last week’s loss to the Redskins, Friday’s win avenges a series of close losses to Stebbins. Besides last year’s close losses, Sidney lost 23-21 to the Indians in 2019.

“We’d been preaching all week that in 365 days to the day, we lost to them three times by a total of five points,” Doenges said. “In every one of those games, you can go back, and four or five plays made the difference. We don’t know when those five or six plays are going to happen, but we’ve got to figure it out and make plays.”

Sidney improves to 4-5 overall with Friday’s victory.

While last week’s canceled matchup with Fairborn doesn’t count in the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s playoff standings, the MVL recognizes canceled games as forfeits and counts them in league standings. Since Fairborn canceled the contest, Sidney sits at 5-3 in MVL play (and 5-5 overall).

Sidney can win the MVL Valley Division title this Friday with a victory over Xenia (6-3, 5-3), which is tied for first place divisional standings. The Yellow Jackets are scheduled to travel to Xenia’s Doug Adams Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

The program hasn’t won a conference title since 1970.

Sidney built a 28-20 lead midway through the fourth quarter on Friday and sealed the victory late.

After Stebbins was pinned back deep late on a series of holding penalties, senior defensive lineman Jaden Swiger picked up a fumbled pass in the end zone with 1:01 left to give the squad a two-possession lead.

“Just a beautiful heads-up play, and we had them on the ropes,” Doenges said. “I can’t say enough about the defensive staff. We’ve played so well on that side of the ball this year.

“And (Stebbins) is a very dynamic offense. They’re very, very balanced. I think they have 1,500 yards passing and 1,500 yards rushing on the year, so they’re very hard to prepare for. …But the defensive staff did a nice job, and I felt like we were usually one step ahead of them.”

Sidney’s offense got a boost from the return of starting running back Martez Harris and lineman Evan Kennedy, neither of which played against Fort Loramie. The squad also ran a few new plays and adjusted its spread formation, using two running backs some of the night.

“We’re at full strength, so that’s been nice,” Doenges said. “We’ve haven’t been playing real well on that side of the ball, but the offensive staff has been preaching to the kids that we have some good things and just have to string some plays together. We started to do that tonight.”

The biggest boost to the offense came from senior E.J. Davis.

Davis was the squad’s starting running back the last two years and entered the season with over 2,000 career rushing yards, including 1,329 his sophomore season.

But Davis is starting defensively at linebacker this year, and Doenges moved him to receiver on offense in order to limit the number of contact plays he’s involved in.

He had a fitting senior night performance in the backfield. He ran for 195 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries in addition to catching one pass for 36 yards.

“He just played so hard,” Doenges said.

The Indians scored on an 11-yard TD run by Omar Holloway midway through the first quarter and a 55-yard TD pass from Nate Keller to Adrian Norton early in the second to take a 14-0 lead.

But the Yellow Jackets got going after that.

Davis scored on a 31-yard TD run with 4:57 left in the third to cut the gap to 14-7 at halftime.

Stebbins turned the ball over on downs to start the second half, and Davis scored the next play by weaving his way through defenders on a 78-yard TD run with 7:22 left to tie it 14-14.

The Indians fumbled the ensuing kickoff, which senior Elijah Austin recovered at the 21-yard line. Senior QB Donavin Johnson scored on a 4-yard TD run with 5:02 left to give Sidney a 21-14 lead.

The Indians then went on a long drive and scored on a 7-yard pass from Keller to Holloway. But the squad missed the extra-point attempt, which allowed Sidney to keep the lead at 21-20.

Sidney then drove down and scored on an 8-yard TD run by Harris with 5:01 left to push the lead to 28-20.

Stebbins then lost yardage on its next drive, and Swiger sealed the win with the recovered fumble for a TD.

“A lot of seniors made big plays,” Doenges said. “They’re just great guys, all 21 of them. There are five or six guys that don’t get any playing time on Friday nights. They all come out and are on our scout teams. They bust their butts on offensive scout team, defensive scout team, whatever they need to do.

“Blake Kizer this week was (Adrian Norton) on scout offense, so we were always identifying him. Blaine Vaughn is another kid that just comes in and keeps plugging away on the offensive and defensive scout line.

“It’s just really neat when kids buy into their role. All 21 of those seniors had a hand in this win tonight.”

This Friday, all 21 will try to have a hand in the squad winning its first conference title in 51 years.

Sidney senior quarterback Donavin Johnson runs for a touchdown during the third quarter of a Miami Valley League Valley Division game on Friday at Sidney Memorial Stadium. Johnson threw for 84 yards and ran for 33 yards.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2021/10/web1_1td.jpgSidney senior quarterback Donavin Johnson runs for a touchdown during the third quarter of a Miami Valley League Valley Division game on Friday at Sidney Memorial Stadium. Johnson threw for 84 yards and ran for 33 yards. Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

Sidney’s EJ Davis runs for a touchdown against Stebbins at Sidney Memorial Stadium on Friday.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2021/10/web1_4td.jpgSidney’s EJ Davis runs for a touchdown against Stebbins at Sidney Memorial Stadium on Friday.Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

Sidney’s Julius Spradling has room to run against Stebbins at Sidney Memorial Stadium on Friday.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2021/10/web1_DSC_9267.jpgSidney’s Julius Spradling has room to run against Stebbins at Sidney Memorial Stadium on Friday.Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

Sidney’s Sam Reynolds outruns Stebbins’ Lavell Lyles at Sidney Memorial Stadium on Friday.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2021/10/web1_DSC_9295.jpgSidney’s Sam Reynolds outruns Stebbins’ Lavell Lyles at Sidney Memorial Stadium on Friday.Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

Sidney’s Nick Spriggs-Leckey lunges for Stebbins’ Nate Keller at Sidney Memorial Stadium on Friday.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2021/10/web1_DSC_9370.jpgSidney’s Nick Spriggs-Leckey lunges for Stebbins’ Nate Keller at Sidney Memorial Stadium on Friday.Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

Sidney senior running back EJ Davis collides with Stebbins’ Dalton King during a Miami Valley League Valley Division game on Friday at Sidney Memorial Stadium. Davis ran for 195 yards and two touchdowns in the 35-20 win.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2021/10/web1_DSC_9944-1-.jpgSidney senior running back EJ Davis collides with Stebbins’ Dalton King during a Miami Valley League Valley Division game on Friday at Sidney Memorial Stadium. Davis ran for 195 yards and two touchdowns in the 35-20 win. Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News
Yellow Jackets can win Valley Division title by beating Xenia Friday

By Bryant Billing

bbilling@sidneydailynews.com

Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.

Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.