XENIA — Balanced teams with the same conference record battled for a league title on Friday at Doug Adams Stadium.
The only part that couldn’t end balanced were the final league standings, and unfortunately for Xenia things didn’t go right from the outset.
Sidney led 63 seconds into the game and ended up cruising as the Yellow Jackets defeated the Bucs 38-0 on Senior Night.
The Yellow Jackets’ victory gives them the MVL Valley Division crown with a 6-3 record, its first conference title since 1970, and denies the Bucs what would have been its second title in three seasons since the league reformed in 2019.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys playing some big-time minutes,” head coach Maurice Harden said. “We have to be able to use these experiences to be able to see these kind of obstacles as opportunities. We’ve got to be able to take these situations we’re finding ourselves in right now in these games and we have to learn from them.”
Xenia’s opening possession went three-and-out, but to make matters worse its punt was blocked through the back of the endzone for a quick 2-0 Sidney lead.
Defensive play for the Bucs kept the score close until the second quarter’s midway point before penalties and trickery assisted Sidney.
A roughing the passer penalty called was tacked onto a long pass for the Yellow Jackets and led to a 20-yard touchdown pass.
On its next drive as halftime neared, Sidney dug into the playbook to call a halfback throwback pass by Devin Taborn to its wide open quarterback Donavin Johnson to provide a 24-0 lead heading into the break.
“Sometimes that youth and inexperience shows up at an opportune times,” Harden said. “It happened tonight with the blocked punt and some other things that we wanted to do out there. We just have to get some of those things cleaned up because we still have an opportunity to go to the playoffs.”
As the night became colder and mist from the skies intensified, Sidney received the ball to open the second half, returned the kickoff near midfield and drove for another touchdown from there that produced a running clock for the remainder of the game.
Xenia was held to 161 yards of offense, with only 57 coming via runs on 22 carries. Harden said he felt Sidney took advantage of the Bucs young line and forced them into blocking mistakes.
The senior class did not leave Doug Adams Stadium for the final time with a lot of simles, but Harden said they should be happy about what they accomplished.
“I want them to understand how they have laid the foundation moving forward for the success that we’re going to have,” he said. “These guys started the new tradition and the new breed of Xenia football. We finished 6-4 after being 2-8 he year prior, so the fact that we were able to accomplish that is something to feel proud and be happy about.”
Xenia came into the week ranked No. 14 in the week nine computer rankings for Division II, Region 8, and should make the postseason despite the loss. The team won’t learn anything officially until the final rankings and playoff pairings are released on Sunday. Sidney was at No. 13 and guaranteed itself a postseason berth with the win.
D-II playoff games will be scheduled on Friday evenings by the OHSAA.
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.