SIDNEY — Isaiah Bowser said he figured out quickly against Xenia last Friday that he would be able to run with relative ease. He set Sidney’s all-time single-game rushing record two weeks before at Bellefontaine, and as the game progressed against the Buccaneers, he knew he was going to surpass his previous mark.
“Going into the third quarter, I just felt I had that record,” Bowser said. “After the game I was really wondering if I got 400 (yards) and figured I was pretty close, but I was pretty excited once I saw I had it.”
Bowser rushed for 413 yards and six touchdowns and threw for 90 yards and one score. Not only did he set a single-game rushing record, he also set a single-game record for total offense.
The state-ranked Yellow Jackets (4-0) will try to keep the offense moving against West Carrollton this Friday at Sidney Memorial Stadium — but they’re not necessarily hoping to set any offensive records. Had Sidney’s defense contained Xenia more, Bowser may have been off the field for most of the second half.
Instead, Sidney needed every one of Bowser’s rushing yards in a 55-48 win. The Buccaneers (0-4) scored more points against Sidney than in their previous three games and had more total yards of offense than in the first three weeks.
Sidney had its best defensive performance in a 35-7 win against Carroll in Week 3, and coach Adam Doenges thought he saw signs of progress.
“It obviously didn’t get better,” Doenges said. “The good news is we face the exact same offense this week, so we’ve got a chance to back ourselves up a little bit in making sure that we play disciplined football.”
The Pirates run a triple-option, which Doenges said the Yellow Jackets defended well at times on Friday. Sidney forced Xenia into 12 third-down situations and four fourth-down situations in the game but gave up 596 total yards.
“One kid might have a missed read or not follow what he was supposed to do and then try to ad-lib a little bit, and against that offense, there’s a 70-yard run,” Doenges said. “Then another kid tries to overcompensate what he was supposed to do for the kid that’s not doing his job, and we just had way too many guys trying to do other people’s job.”
Though Doenges said the defensive struggles were frustrating, Bowser helped alleviate any stress.
“You can’t be more pleased with how he plays,” Doenges said. “Even completing passes, which is big.”
One of Bowser’s halfback passes was a 55-yard touchdown to Ratez Roberts in the first quarter. He was happy to have completed passes, especially with the ribbing he’s heard from teammates in practice.
“They always make fun of me at practice because I don’t have the best form and throw some pretty wobbly balls, but in the game, I don’t think they were too bad,” Bowser said. “They got to the receiver, so I don’t think anyone could be too mad.”
Sidney’s game against West Carrollton (1-3) is its last before starting GWOC American North play on Sept. 29 at Piqua. The Yellow Jackets haven’t started 5-0 since 1996, and Bowser said it was a goal of the team to go into conference play undefeated.
Though Sidney beat the Pirates 53-22 last year, Bowser said the team isn’t taking preparation lightly.
“We know they’ve struggled, but we’ve still got to play them hard,” Bowser said. “We came into last week and were supposed to be the big winner and didn’t win by too much, so we’ve got to work a lot harder this week. They run the same offense as Xenia, so we’ve definitely got to be ready to stop that offense since we didn’t do too well last week.”
West Carrollton has won only four games in the last five seasons and hasn’t beaten a GWOC opponent since 2012 (a 31-24 win over Sidney). The Pirates have shown signs of progress under new coach Derek Hauk, including a 41-6 win over Northridge in Week 2.
“They’re much improved,” Doenges said. “They’ve got a new coach down there, and you can tell there’s a little more sense of pride, a little more sense of discipline. It’s a different team. I don’t expect them to come up here and roll over maybe as much as they did the last couple of years. They’ve got some tough guys.”
Andre Gordon back
Sidney junior quarterback Andre Gordon has healed from a Week 3 shoulder injury, and Doenges said he expects Gordon will play Friday against the Pirates.
“He’s just trying to get back into the swing of things with timing,” Doenges said. “He hasn’t taken a lot of reps in the last nine or 10 days, so we’re trying to get his timing back and his confidence back. He’ll be all right.
“It’s nice we have a chance to have him get back into a rhythm before we start conference season. We have two seasons, conference and nonconference. We’re trying to end on a high note this week and make sure that we got better after that fifth game.”
Sophomore quarterback Ryan Dunham started against Xenia and completed 4-of-14 passes for 51 yards and one touchdown.
Bowser’s performance against Xenia has drawn the attention of media across the state, and Doenges said Bowser has handled it well.
“When you put up 400, that really catches people’s eyes,” Doenges said. “Now you’ve got more interviews and more people that want to come and film practice and that type of stuff. It’s fun and neat, and he and the team does a nice job of making sure that’s not a distraction and we keep plowing along and doing our thing. It’s been fun for the kids to see how we can get attention not just locally, but around the state.”
Playoff computer rankings
The Ohio High School Athletic Association released official computer rankings for the first time this season on Tuesday. Sidney is ranked fourth in Division II, Region 8. The top eight teams in each region qualify for the postseason, and the top four teams host first-round games.
The Yellow Jackets were ranked No. 7 in Div. II in this week’s Associated Press state poll.
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter.