Sidney hasn’t beaten the Roughriders since 2013.
By Bryant Billing
SIDNEY — Devan Rogers has lined up against St. Marys the last three years and said a sore body on Saturday morning is a guarantee after a night of trying to stop a bruising wing-T attack. But Rogers and Sidney’s other seniors are confident this is the year they can contain the Roughriders’ rushing attack and start the season with a win.
The Yellow Jackets open the season against St. Marys Memorial at 7 p.m. on Friday at Sidney Memorial Stadium and will try to stop a three-year losing streak in the series.
Sidney nearly won last year’s season opener between the two schools, but St. Marys scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to earn a 43-39 win. The Roughriders racked up 388 rushing yards and scored all six touchdowns on the ground.
Rogers, a senior defensive lineman, thinks his experience from previous seasons will help him when he lines up against the wing-T again on Friday.
“It’s really difficult,” Rogers said. “They’re just so used to that offense their whole lives that they run it really well. We’ve been watching film on them for the past two or three weeks. We’ve been trying our best to remind ourselves of what that’s like and get ready.”
Sidney coach Adam Doenges knows the system well. Doenges is a St. Marys graduate and played for Roughriders coach Doug Frye in high school. He said he’s gained even more appreciation for the program’s offense since becoming an opposing coach.
“We have an offensive system, but they have an offensive ‘System’ system,” Doenges said. “It’s something that’s ingrained in their town and ingrained in their blood. It’s what they do; it’s what they hang their hat on.
“We’re going to get to a point like that with our offense too, but when you have a system team like that where they do the same thing over and over, that’s usually a little bit ahead of where everyone else is this time of year. Our offense is still trying to get timing and rhythm stuff down, which we’re still a little bit off on. From what we’ve seen, they’re moving on all cylinders already again. It’s pretty impressive.”
St. Marys lost 14 starters and 21 total players to graduation, but Doenges said he doesn’t expect St. Marys to have much of a drop off from last season. Running backs Bo Kuenning and Sean Perry return along with three offensive lineman.
Rogers is one of seven returning starters on defense for Sidney, and Doenges said the unit is ahead of where it was this time last season.
“We’re better, but we’ve still got some strides to make,” Doenges said. “We’ve got to be physical. It’s not about where we line up and how we line up and getting the reads, it’s just playing good, hard-nosed, physical football. It’s old-fashioned offense. Defensively, we’ve got to learn to come downhill, and mentally you have to be able to get plays with no gain or a one-yard gain after they’ve strung a bunch of three- and four-yard gains.”
Sidney has several returning players on the offensive line and multiple at skill positions, including senior running back Isaiah Bowser. Bowser ran for 111 yards and three touchdowns last year against the Roughriders but said he’s still mad about the close loss. Sidney had a 26-14 lead at halftime, and Bowser said the team played too lackadaisically in the second half.
“We’ve got to finish this year,” Bowser said. “That’s the big thing we’ve been talking about this year against them. We’ve got to play tough against them for a whole game, not just the first half.”
Rogers said the defense especially needs to play strong in the second half and not get worn down.
“We’ve got to finish in the second half,” Rogers said. “We didn’t do that well last year. We’ve just got to believe in what the coaches tell us, run the plays right and have mental toughness if something goes wrong.”
St. Marys returns four defensive players who earned all-Western Buckeye League honors: senior linebacker Jackson Harris, senior defensive back Drew Jacobs, senior defensive lineman Reed Aller and senior linebacker Austin Giesige.
St. Marys leads the all-time series between the two schools 34-26-3.