By Bryant Billing
ANNA — Anna rolled to a 52-0 win over Arlington in a season opener last Friday. One thing coach Nick Marino has been pleased with, though, didn’t come in the game but was apparent in practice this past week.
“There’s been no drop off (in our practices),” Marino said. “They’re still getting after it as hard as before and are keeping focus on this week.”
Marino said that focus is needed given the Rockets’ opponent this week. Anna will travel to Brookville for a nonconference game at 7 p.m. on Friday.
Though Marino said the team isn’t looking any farther ahead than Friday, playoff points are up for grabs against the Blue Devils. Both teams are loaded with returning players after winning five games each last year, and both are in Division V, Region 20. Brookville has made the playoffs each of the last two seasons and finished as regional runner-up in 2015.
One of the big reasons to Brookville’s recent success is running back Bailey Wallen. Wallen, a senior, rushed for over 1,300 yards as a sophomore and 1,700 yards a junior.
“He’s as good as probably anybody we’ll see this season,” Marino said. “He’s an explosive kid and is going to be a big emphasis for us. He’s not overly big, but he’s a real hard runner with good speed. He runs through tackles a lot. We’ll really have to make sure we get him corralled.”
Brookville opened the season last Friday with a 34-7 win over Tri-County North. The Blue Devils led 27-0 at halftime and scored early in the third quarter before playing backup players late. Wallen rushed for 118 yards and four touchdowns on 16 carries.
Marino said he was especially impressed with Brookville’s defense while watching game film. The Blue Devils held Tri-County North to 117 yards.
“They got after Tri-County North,” Marino said. “I thought they did a very good job of getting off blocks and running to the football. They looked like a good defensive team, and it’s going to be a test for our guys.”
Marino said he thinks the Rockets will be ready for the test after a good showing against Arlington, as long as they reduce the number of penalties they had. Anna largely cruised in the game and led 38-0 by halftime.
Anna had good balance on offense, which Marino said he was pleased with. Travis Meyer threw several long passes, including a 50-yard touchdown pass to Austin Fogt and a 36-yard touchdown pass to Caleb Kauffman. Riley Huelskamp had a 60-yard touchdown run, and Kauffman returned a punt 44 yards for a touchdown.
Marino said he thinks Anna can score on big plays against Brookville, provided the defense stops Wallen. Anna held the Blue Devils to 230 rushing yards in a 35-14 win last season but allowed 361 rushing yards in a 21-0 loss in 2015.
“They play ball control-type offense,” Marino said. “Stopping their run is the key.”
Greenon at Fort Loramie
The Redskins struggled a bit on offense in a shutout loss to Minster last Friday, but they won’t face nearly as strong an opponent in Greenon.
The Knights’ football program has struggled in the last three years. Greenon has a 31-game losing streak that dates back to 2013, and most of the losses have been blowouts. In an effort to break the streak, Greenon has left the Central Buckeye Conference and joined the Ohio Heritage Conference, which is comprised mainly of Division VI and VII teams.
It will be the first game of the season for the Knights. Greenon canceled its first game last week due to the deaths of two students at the school, including Connor Williams, who played on the football team.
Fort Loramie athletic director Damon Smith said there will be a moment of silence before the national anthem on Friday to honor the two deceased Greenon students.
Minster at Covington
Minster got rolling the second half in a 20-0 win over Fort Loramie last week and will try to keep rolling against the Buccaneers. Covington lost 37-7 to St. Henry last week.
New Bremen at Mississinawa Valley
The Cardinals rolled over Bradford last week. Mississinawa Valley lost 28-21 to Union City, Indiana.
Mechanicsburg at Riverside
Riverside beat Ansonia 26-17, with two touchdown passes by the Tigers in the second half keeping the score close. Mechanicsburg opened the season with a 46-0 win over OHC opponent Cedarville.
Versailles at Delphos Jefferson
Versailles beat Celina 36-7 last week and will look to keep the hot start going against Jefferson, which lost 27-6 to Lima Shawnee.