LUCASVILLE — After much discussion, the 2020 high school football season in the Buckeye State officially kicked off on Friday night.
Or, if you were in Lucasville, the opening kickoff happened three different times after penalties forced multiple do-overs for Valley kickoff specialist Bryce Stuart.
In the end, however, it was the Valley Indians celebrating a 28-6 win — their first week-one win since 2015 — and depriving longtime rival Northwest of the chance at redemption and their first win in the series since 2000 following last year’s overtime loss.
“We made some real big stops, especially in the first half after we turned the ball over and gave them some opportunities to score,” Valley coach Darren Crabtree said postgame. “I felt like our linemen kind of wore them down at different times. I liked the way our defense set the tone for us early.”
“We got banged up early, first play of the game we lost one of our better players, lost a few more throughout the game,” Bill Crabtree said after the loss. “We thought we had depth, struggled a little bit with that tonight. Getting used to all the changes, that definitely threw a wrench into everything.”
As Darren Crabtree — the Valley coach now in his 31st season as Chief Indian — said, the Indians’ defense set the tone early and kept Northwest just far enough out-of-reach.
Valley held Northwest to just 59 yards of total offense and three first downs for the entirety of the first half.
The Indians took a 14-0 lead into the halftime locker-room despite the Mohawks controlling possession for 12:46 of the first 24 minutes.
Northwest was able to control the time of possession thanks to three Valley first-half turnovers — each of which was a second-quarter lost fumble.
Still, Northwest was unable to capitalize on its opportunities.
“They tried to give it to us and we just couldn’t take it,” Bill Crabtree said. “We had our opportunities for sure, just couldn’t seem to get things right.”
“Couple of big stops where they had short field, couple of fourth downs and short plays where they didn’t convert,” Darren Crabtree said. “That carries the momentum for your defense into the whole second half.”
A one-yard rushing touchdown by sophomore George Arnett and a 10-yard scoring tote by junior Chase Morrow gave the Indians their two-score lead at the midway point — with junior Chase Ruby splitting the uprights on each of his four PAT attempts.
Arnett, the Indians’ second-leading ballcarrier during his freshman year, kept up the strong start to his Indian career by rushing for 104 yards and 23 carries with one reception for nine yards coming in the second half.
After Northwest junior quarterback Austin Newman hit junior tight end Evan Lintz for a nine-yard touchdown pass and cut the Indians’ lead to one possession at 14-6 with 3:21 left in the third, Valley responded three plays later in a big way.
On his 15th carry, Arnett broke his longest rush of the night for 32 yards — setting up senior quarterback Andrew Andronis’ 22-yard touchdown pass to 6-foot-3 all-Ohio sophomore receiver Ty Perkins on the very next play.
“Our guys up front helped me all night long,” Arnett said. “Key blocks led to key runs, opened up big plays. I had a run that set up a fade to Ty Perkins — couldn’t do that without their blocks.”
The Andronis touchdown pass gave Valley a 21-6 lead with 2:17 left in the third — his first since injuring his collarbone during Valley’s game at Northwest a season ago.
Andronis continued his special play-making ability in the fourth when the 5-foot-9 senior signal-caller hit the circle button, Braxton Miller-style, and spun his way out of the hands of grasping Mohawk arms for a 75-yard touchdown run — the longest play of the night for either team.
In total, Andronis completed five-of-seven passes for 119 yards with one touchdown and carried five times for 94 yards and a score.
“He threw a couple of big passes to (Ty) Perkins, hit Jayden Duncan two or three times early in the game,” Darren Crabtree said of his QB. “His ability to make plays is priceless for us. When we needed him to make plays tonight, he did.”
“I felt really good,” Andronis said. “Receivers got open, linemen made blocks; everything was 100-percent.”
Of course, Valley’s offense and Andronis were put into position to make plays thanks to their defense limiting Northwest to just 11 first downs and forcing three Mohawk turnovers by game’s end.
“Defense stepped up this week, for sure,” Andronis said. “They have a fast running back and a big running back, we just knew we had to stop them.”
Sophomore defensive back Carter Nickel picked off a Newman pass on the final Northwest drive — sealing the win for Valley over their 60-year rival.
Valley’s week-one win over Northwest is its first week-one win since 2015 — a 33-0 win over Portsmouth — and a likely liftoff point into the Indians’ daunting Southern Ohio Conference Division II league schedule.
The Indians will travel to Oak Hill next Friday night and attempt their first 2-0 start since that same 2015 season.
“Oak Hill’s a very physical team; they’re going to line up up front and try to pound the football,” Darren Crabtree said. “For us, staying healthy, allowing our athletes to make plays is the key. I think we’re probably going to put the ball in the air a lot more than they will, we’ve got to be able to do what we did tonight and stop Oak Hill inside the 20 and not give them points off turnovers.”
In defeat, Northwest will need a short memory before preparing for SOC I opponent Notre Dame in its league opener at Roy Rogers Field in McDermott.
“Getting healthy, got to find out how to move the ball,” Bill Crabtree said. “We saw Notre Dame on film, they’re right there with these guys. We’ve got our hands full, for sure.”
Northwest — 0 0 6 0 — 6
Valley — 7 7 7 7 — 28
V — George Arnett, 1-yard run (Chase Ruby PAT good), 5:06 1Q (7-0 V)
V — Chase Morrow, 10-yard run (Chase Ruby PAT good), 10:43 2Q (14-0 V)
N — Evan Lintz, 9-yard catch from Austin Newman (PAT no good), 3:31 3Q (14-6 V)
V — Ty Perkins, 22-yard catch from Andrew Andronis (Chase Ruby PAT good), 2:17 3Q (21-6 V)
V — Andrew Andronis, 75-yard run (Chase Ruby PAT good), 10:47 4Q (28-6 V)
|Yards (Rushing-Passing)||307 (111-196)||358 (239-119)|
|Time of Possession||10:06||13:54|
|Penalties||5 for 35||2 for 20|
Rushing — Northwest: Wyatt Brackman 11-57, Brayden Campbell 9-39, Nathan Rivers 5-14, Evan Lintz 1-2, Zane Gilley 1-2, Austin Newman 5-(-3); Valley: George Arnett 23-104 TD, Andrew Andronis 5-94 TD, Chase Morrow 6-34 TD, Colton Buckle 2-8
Passing — Northwest: Austin Newman 10-19 196 TD INT, Brayden Campbell 1-1 -4; Valley: Andrew Andronis 5-7 119 TD
Receiving — Northwest: Connor Lintz 5-105, Dakota Secrest 2-52, Brayden Campbell 1-17, Zane Gilley 2-11, Evan Lintz 1-9 TD; Valley: Ty Perkins 2-88 TD, Jayden Duncan 2-22, George Arnett 1-9
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved