XENIA — With a team with several new faces and little time to practice together, Xenia Tornadoes coach Doug Edwards knew there would be games like Saturday’s June 10 shutout loss to the Cincinnati Gators.
Playing in 80-degree weather in full football pads is tough on any man. Playing in pads on an often unorganized Xenia bunch and losing 48-0 is even tougher. But the players gave it their all until the final whistle.
“We’re a very young team,” Edwards said. “About half the team has worked together for a year, the other half has not. So, it’s molding that together, like putting together a big puzzle. That’s what we’re working on right now.
“The longer you play together, the better you know each other. That’s our goal right now: To get these guys together every week, and then come out here, keep playing together so we can get better at playing this game.”
And the Xenia players love this game.
Despite the game’s outcome having been decided, there were still guys like safety Ben Anderson upending Gators running back Tracey Barnes before Cincinnati’s top running back could get in for a late-game score.
And while the Tornadoes were on their third quarterback, DeShawn Threats could be found gathering the offensive linemen — and really, anyone on the team who had an interest in learning the blocking assignments a little better — on the sideline before their next offensive series.
It’s no fun to lose a game 48-0 in any weather, and tempers heated up at one point in the second half. Regardless of all the trash talking and the occasional finger pointing, both teams shook hands after the Blue Collar Football League contest, and met after the game for a team prayer at midfield.
The Xenia players work full-time jobs when they’re not decked out in their Red & Black Tornadoes uniforms, and they’re from all over the Miami Valley. Oftentimes, the only way Edwards can hold a practice is by going online. He’ll go live on Facebook, and his team will tune in to his chalk talks to learn the plays.
“I just think we just gotta be better prepared,” Xenia running back Tarrel Jackson said after the game. “We gotta get in our playbooks, we gotta listen to our coaches and we just gotta execute when we come out here.”
Jackson was given the opportunity to recognize a teammate whom he thought played well in Saturday’s game. In true teammate fashion, he wouldn’t point any one player out among the 40-some men who sweated their tails off in the lopsided loss.
“I’d like to recognize the whole team. Man, we come out here and we fight and we struggle together. I can’t put anybody down, and I can’t put anybody in the spotlight. We all come out here and play our hearts out, that’s all you can ask for,” Jackson said.
Jackson, Matt Lindsey and Corielle Rayford combined for 58 yards rushing on 11 carries, but it was a rough day for Xenia quarterbacks Threats, Donta Holder and Khristian Avery. The often scrambling trio was sacked seven times for minus-39 yards, and threw three interceptions.
Meanwhile, Gators quarterback and former Toledo Rocket Blake Moore scrambled six times for 115 yards and three touchdowns. Moore also threw for a 20-yard TD pass in the win. Cincinnati’s Barnes, who played at Muskingum University, led all rushers with 90 yards and a TD (and one fumble) on 10 carries.
Cincinnati is now 2-1 in the BCFL, while Xenia slips to 0-2. Xenia’s next game will be at 5 p.m. June 17 when they’ll host the Southern Ohio Blaze, on the Athletes In Action Sports Complex football field.
THANK YOU, CRICKET!: The Xenia team is self-sufficient, so it always helps when a local business like Wireless Choices of Dayton, a Cricket wireless-authorized dealer located in the Fairfield Commons Mall in Beavercreek, lends a helping hand. The team wanted to make sure that their support didn’t go unnoticed.
You can contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123. For more information on the Xenia Tornadoes football team, visit their page on Facebook at: facebook.com/XENIATORNADOES.