NEW MADISON – After two heartbreaking losses, the Tri-Village Patriots needed to get back in the win column.
They had lost to Covenant Christian by just one point and then lost to Gamble Montessori (No. 8 in the region’s computer points) by six. So they were close, winnable games but the Patriots had fallen just short in both games.
Coach Jason Schondelmeyer would later remark that the outcome of just three plays made the difference; the team could easily have been 5-2 instead of 3-4.
Tri-Village’s Homecoming game was against Dohn Academy from Cincinnati. The Patriots made the most of their first ever Homecoming game with a resounding 37-8 win.
And the Homecoming event was unique in that the Homecoming court rode into the stadium on Jeepsters, making it even more noteworthy. For the record, the first ever football king and queen for the Patriots homecoming were Jonny Wilson and Taylor Pearson – a legacy that they can keep forever.
But after the pageantry there was a game to be played. The Patriots won the toss and elected to kick-off. Respecting the Panthers deep men, they pooch kicked the ball all night.
The Panthers were not able to move the ball. But on the Patriots’ first possession Jared Buckley had a couple of good carries, one for about 25 yards and another for 11 yards to put the Patriots up in the first quarter.
But instead of answering, Dohn Academy shot itself in the foot. The Panthers had decent field position and followed that with a good run. It was looking as though they might even up the score. But mental mistakes by them moved the ball backwards then the Patriots defense smelled blood and got a sack – Noah Burns got the first one of the night for the home town team. It was now third and 41.
But that was not enough. The Panthers got a delay of game to make it third and 46. And that was the theme for a good part of the night: The Panthers would get decent field position, get a nice gain or two and then something would happen to move them backwards, either penalties or a tackle for loss by the Patriots. Dohn Academy would end up with two players being ejected in the first half, further handicapping itself.
On offense the Patriots kept the pressure up. Burns caught a 7-yard pass from Wilson for their second score in the second quarter.
The Patriots had been keeping the ball on the ground to this point. And after this reception, they opened up their playbook the remainder of the game and mixed the pass and run.
Burns turned around on the next Panther possession and tacked a runner in the end zone for a safety.
The frustrations mounted for Panthers and after a sack by the Patriots their quarterback was ejected for his actions. Then a few plays later a second player was ejected for throwing a punch.
Undeterred by the tumult, Buckley caught a 13-yard pass on fourth down to score yet again for the Patriots. This sent the team to the locker room with a 23-0 lead.
Austin Bruner set up the first score in the next half with a catch and run to the 2-yard line where Wilson ran a quarterback sneak for the score.
The Panthers marched the ball down the field and were in the red zone. But Cameran Munchel had a tackle for loss and when they elected to throw the ball on fourth and 5. Gavin Richards picked the ball off and kept them from scoring.
Each team would score one more time in the last quarter to make the final score 37-8, a satisfactory ending to Tri-Village’s inaugural Homecoming night.
Coach Shondelmyer was happy with the way the team played.
“It has been a rough two weeks,” he said. “It was nice to see the team come out and do this on Homecoming. In football, each week is so important. I am so proud of these guys to come out here and get a win this week. Tonight our kids were ready to go and focused. They were on the line of scrimmage, and we had to fight for some hard yards. But we were able to go out there and do that. Each week we are making more and more plays on defense. We had that pick in the second half in a critical situation – that was a big play by Gavin Richards to prevent a touchdown.
“I am looking forward to this game (on Friday against Bradford). It will give us a gauge of where we are at as and let the rest of the conference see us. They are a run-oriented team and will be similar to Gamble Montessori. So we had a week of preparation for them. We will just have to go over all of that again for Bradford.”