XENIA — After an upset double-overtime win over Trotwood-Madison on Oct. 19, the Xenia High School Buccaneers football team has a rare opportunity to win the Greater Western Ohio Conference’s South division. If the team can win against Fairborn on Thursday night Oct. 25, at Doug Adams Stadium, it would claim the school’s first outridght division title in football since 1969.
“We are excited about the opportunity,” coach Trace Smitherman said, “but we know if we don’t come out and play well Thursday, we won’t be happy.”
Smitherman said Xenia’s win over Trotwood-Madison was a huge boost to the team. The victory showed that the Buccaneers can handle stressful situations and adversity. Down by seven, the team drove down the field at the end of regulation to tie the game.
“We got the ball with 1:44 left on the clock and had to go into a shotgun formation and throw the ball,” Smitherman said. “We’ve worked on it, but we have not really done it with live bullets, but the kids didn’t miss a beat.”
In the second of two overtime periods, the Buccaneers were once again down by seven when the team drove down to score and then stole the game with a successful two-point conversion run by Nick Willis.
“We knew they were going to come out hard for this game, but we needed to be ready to counter that and punch them back harder.” Xenia quarterback Christian Severt said.
Following that big win, the team has focused on preparing for its next game against rival Fairborn.
“We made sure we stayed focused in practice,” Willis said. “We didn’t let anybody get cocky or let our heads get too big. Coach did too. He had us running hard Sunday night,” Willis said.
“It was a big, big win, but we are still playing for something,” Smitherman said. “We’ve got Fairborn, who we lost to last year, but we just need to take it one play at a time … and keep the confidence that we can take our opponent’s best punch and keep playing.”
Smitherman (who is in his second year as coach) has credited the team’s improvement to both the players working hard to improve and everyone having a second year in his system under their belts. He said the coaches and players have both responded well with another year of experience.
“It’s huge, the kids have really taken to what we do, and the style that we want to have getting it done,” Smitherman said. “It gives us a great opportunity to be successful across the board, but we have to try to finish the deal.”
The team has a chance to make history for itself and provide a boost for the Xenia football program.
“We’re excited because it’s been since 1969 when Xenia won the conference,” Smitherman said. “We’ve got to try to win the conference outright and it takes a whole village to get that done.”
Xenia will host Fairborn at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 25 at Doug Adams Stadium.
Joshua Woolverton is a student intern for Greene County News, from Cedarville University.