SIDNEY — The playoffs are slowly becoming a reality for Sidney’s football team, but that doesn’t mean the focus is off of this week’s Greater Western Ohio Conference game against Greenville.
Though the Yellow Jackets already have a playoff berth in Division V, Region 8 locked up, there’s still a few things riding on the outcome of Friday’s regular-season finale at Greenville’s Harmon Field, with the biggest being a potential first-round game at Sidney Memorial Stadium.
Sidney (8-1, 3-1 GWOC American North) is ranked No. 4 in Region 8 in this week’s computer rankings. The top eight teams qualify for the playoffs, and the top four teams host a first-round game. Sidney can likely secure its No. 4 seed and a first-round home game with a win over the Green Wave (2-7, 0-4).
That’s the goal for the team according to senior offensive lineman Anthony Brussell.
“If we win, we know we’ve got a great chance of playing at home, and that would be a great atmosphere, a great feeling to play here once again, especially since our last game here was a loss,” Brussell said. “… Us seniors really want to get back on this field, especially for our city. We’ve had great fan support, some of the largest crowds the school has ever put together. It’d be great to see them one last time.”
The chance at another home game (and retaining control of the Little Brown Jug) is plenty enough to keep the team focused on Greenville according to Sidney coach Adam Doenges. Sidney lost 48-21 to Troy on Oct. 13 and trailed 20-0 at halftime.
“They’re all excited now that (a playoff berth) is a little bit more official than it was before, but the neat thing is they’re still keeping focus on what they need to do,” Doenges said.
“… Not just making the playoffs, but being able to play at home is a big goal for our guys. That’s something we talked about before the Troy game, and I think they want it even maybe a little bit more since they lost their last home game. When the GWOC North title became out of our control, now the goal is to keep the Little Brown Jug and play at home again.”
Troy (7-2, 4-0) is in first place in the North and hosts arch-rival Piqua (6-3, 3-1) on Friday. If Piqua beats Troy, the two schools and Sidney would tie for the conference title.
Does that mean the Yellow Jackets are rooting for their biggest rival in Piqua?
“We talked to the guys about it, and they’re big fans of the Indians this week,” Doenges said. “Having a share of it, even if it’s a three-way tie, is better than coming in second place. We know that the only thing we can control is winning and being able to host a playoff game, so we’ll see how that shakes out and go from there.”
Troy held Sidney to season lows in points and yards (334), but the Yellow Jackets’ offense got back on track fast last Friday against Butler. Sidney amassed a 28-point lead in the first half and racked up a season-high 579 yards of offense in the 55-34 win.
After Troy’s defenders consistently broke through to the backfield, Brussell said Sidney’s offensive line was determined to play better against Butler.
“We just had great confidence going into last week,” Brussell said. “We knew after the Troy game we had to get better. It was really a humbling situation. We knew coming out that Vandalia has a big D-line and that we were going to have to play to our full potential. We had such great motivation to come out and win that game.
“We were really pleased, especially on the O-line, with how we were playing. We made some mistakes, but that’s going to happen. We had some adversity and overcame it. But we got our hips in the right spot, and even if we didn’t block the guy, we gave Isaiah (Bowser) a chance to do his thing.”
Greenville, which beat Sidney at Harmon Field in 2015, has struggled in GWOC North play this year. The Green Wave has been shut out the last two weeks in losses to Tippecanoe and Troy and has been outscored in its four conference games by an average of 42-5.
Greenville’s defense has allowed an average of 332 yards and 28.3 points per game while its offense has averaged 225 yards and 16 points per game. Quarterback Owen Paulus has thrown for 765 yards and six touchdowns for Greenville, while Jarrad Crist leads the team in rushing with 544 yards.
“I imagine they’re going to try to take the air out of the ball, like some teams have tried against us,” Doenges said. “Try to control the clock a little bit. They seem to be pretty beat up and have lost a few kids throughout the year. I still think they’re trying to find what works for them. They’ve been running a little bit of everything on offense and defense.
“But sometimes when it’s your senior night and you’ve got nothing to lose, you never know what’s going to come out. Our kids are going to have to be prepared to see a little bit of anything. It’s going to be a good test for us.”
Rogers, Collingsworth set to return: Doenges said Sidney defensive lineman Devan Rogers should be ready to play on Friday after hyperextending his thumb in the second half against Butler. Offensive lineman Cooper Collingsworth has a minor injury, and Doenges said he may play on Friday, but will probably only play sparingly if he does.
“For the most part, it’s just the normal wear-and-tear, end-of-the-year stuff with us,” Doenges said. “Shoulders are beat up, knees are beat up, bruises everywhere. But they don’t feel as bad as they normally do when you’ve got a chance to keep playing. The kids have done a nice job of keeping up with their bodies, and we’ll continue to take care of that stuff.”
Career marks for Bowser: Bowser’s 245 yards moved him over 2,000 rushing yards for the season. He has 2,213 rushing yards on the season with 24 touchdowns against two fumbles. He also surpassed 5,000 career rushing yards and 6,000 career all-purpose yards against the Aviators.
Bowser has set four school records this year and may set more against Greenville. He’s four touchdowns short of matching the record for rushing TDs in a season, which he set last year. He’s also two touchdowns shy of total TDs in a season, 14 points shy of total points in a season and 23 rushes shy of carries in a season.
Record for Truesdale: Kicker Hallie Truesdale set a full-season school record for extra points against Butler. Truesdale, a sophomore, has 47 PATs to her credit after Friday’s win. The previous record was 40, which was set over 13 games in 1989 during the only other playoff season in program history.
Last time…: The last time Sidney won at Harmon Field was in 2007.
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter.