LUCASVILLE, Ohio — On senior night, as the Indian faithful celebrated their departing graduates, it was the Wheelersburg Pirates who were left celebrating at the end of the evening as the Pirates won the SOC II championship match 35-13 over the Valley Indians Friday at Valley Indian Stadium in Lucasville.
Wheelersburg (9-0, 3-0) out gained Valley 410 yards to 80, while only allowing the Indians to rush for 26 yards on 20 attempts.
“Their defense just whipped us up front all night,” Indians coach Darren Crabtree said. “We couldn’t establish anything. We didn’t even have the ball very much in the first half and when we did, we couldn’t do much with it. We didn’t have a lot of time to throw the ball. The running game was somewhat nonexistent. We put ourselves in bad spots with penalties and you can’t do that against good teams.
“They are obviously the best team we played this year and they out played us in all facets … They out played us, out coached us and now we have to get ready for Minford. Our season is far from being over. I just told our kids, the feeling we have in our mouth right now doesn’t taste very good.”
The Pirates were led by first-year quarterback Kyle Davis who went 8-for-11 for 206 yards and two touchdowns. Davis’ first scoring toss came in the first quarter when he found Tanner Bivens along the left sidelines who made one defender miss and raced to the end zone. The touchdown strike came from 49 yards away.
Davis threw the touchdown pass moments after throwing the ball toward Chasen Burk, which was tipped by a Valley player but Burk ended up hauling in the 12-yard pass.
“That’s something (Davis) done all year,” Woodward said. “I’m so proud of him and the concentration by our receivers to make sure, even when the ball was tipped a couple of times, that they didn’t give up on the play. I’m really proud of Tanner Bivens with a big catch and the yards after the catch.”
Wheelersburg appeared to be taking a 14-0 lead into the intermission after the Pirates scored the second touchdown of the night when Jordan Howard capped off a 12-play, 65-yard drive with a 2-yard run. However, Valley (7-1, 2-1) wasn’t content on being shutout in the first half.
On the ensuing kickoff, Bryce Romanello received the Daylor Lewis kick at his own 15-yard line and began his return when a host of tacklers converged on the ball carrier. As Romanello began to go to the ground, he lateralled the ball to Blake Howard who completed the 85-yard kick off return to get the Indians on the board.
“We felt very good with the way our kids were playing (in the first half),” Woodward said. “It was a great job of them returning that kickoff. We had them. We just needed to wrap up but with some young kids in there, they’re still learning.”
As the game was hanging in the balance at the beginning of the third quarter, Wheelersburg left little doubt in the minds of its fans and ended the drama quickly. The Pirates scored two touchdowns in 1:19 to increase their lead to 28-7 as Taylor Doerr was on the receiving end of Davis’ second touchdown strike of the night — a 66-yard connection, which was followed by a Howard 4-yard touchdown run; his second of the night.
“Coming out in the second half, Coach (Tom) Caskey and our other offensive coaches did an outstanding job of recognizing some plays that could work,” Woodward said. “But I also love the communication between the players and the coaches. Some of the players stepped up and communicated somethings that were working. That’s a nice relationship we’ve developed this year.”
Even though this contest was dubbed as the SOC championship game, Wheelersburg still needs a victory against West next week to own the title outright. So after the game, Woodward explained that his players haven’t even thought about the SOC championship.
“I haven’t even mentioned the SOC to them,” Woodward said. “For us, that comes when you take care of every single team. We’ve got another team next week. I told them the next game is the most important game and the next game is West, and that’s obviously what we’ve got to focus on.”
For Valley, the Indians are now in a must win game against the Minford Falcons.
“We know next week we have to beat Minford to have a home playoff game, so a lot of things on the line next week,” Crabtree said. “We are going to get back to work and see what we can get accomplished.”
Reach Chris Slone at 740-353-3101, ext 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.
Wheelersburg — Bivens 49 yd. pass from Davis (Lewis kick), 4:54
Wheelersburg — Howard 2 yd. run (Lewis kick), 6:15
Valley — Howard 85 yd. return (Rolfe kick), 6:04
Wheelersburg — Doerr 66 yd. pass from Davis (Lewis kick), 8:36
Wheelersburg — Howard 4 yd. run (Lewis kick), 7:57
Wheelersburg — Davis 9 yd. run (Lewis kick), 10:35
Valley — Romanello 14 yd. pass from Rolfe (PAT no good), 6:11
Rushing — Wheelersburg: Howard 23-105, Davis 20-73, Newsome 4-20, Carmichael 3-6, Burk 5-0; Valley: Howard 5-12, Basham 3-11, Rolfe 12-3.
Passing — Wheelersburg: Davis 8-10-206, Howard 0-1; Valley: Rolfe 9-14-54.
Receiving — Wheelersburg: Doerr 1-66, Bivens 2-62, Darnell 2-42, Burk 2-26, Howard 1-10; Valley: Howard 6-38, Romanello 2-14, Wolford 1-2.
Wheelersburg 9-0 (3-0), Valley 7-1 (2-1).