Warriors Topple Trojans 20-7 – Kerns “I was really impressed with our offensive line”

A football game

OLD WASHINGTON – If anything can be taken away from Buckeye Trail’s first two weeks of action on the gridiron it’s that the team’s identity is already starting to show itself.

After a season opening 12-7 victory over the Caldwell Redskins at the Noble County Fairgrounds in which the Warriors relied on a stout defense and big plays, head coach Donnie Kerns’ team used an identical formula this past Friday night to hang a 20-7 loss on the visiting Newcomerstown Trojans.

One of the biggest plays happened early in the game. On Newcomerstown’s second possession, Trail forced the Trojans to attempt a punt, but senior Trey McGilton burst through the line, blocking and recovering the attempted punt at the NHS 27. On Trail’s first down, the hosts received another big play – this time from senior Jack Parry as he ripped off a 27-yard touchdown run.

Sophomore playmaker Franko Rome added the two-point run, giving the Warriors (1-0) an 8-0 edge at the 2:18 mark of the first quarter.

Kerns said McGilton’s punt was a huge shift in momentum early in the game.

“The blocked punt was definitely a tone setter,” Kerns pointed out. “We had seen all of their scrimmages, and the first game, and knew their punter had yet to take a live punt. So it was the game plan to go after the punt and pressure him.”

After Trail’s defense stepped up and forced a Newcomerstown punt, the Warriors took over at their on 27-yard line. The Guernsey Countians put together a 12-play, 73-yard drive, spanning nearly seven minutes.

The Trail offensive march appeared to be in jeopardy as a holding penalty put the Warriors in a thirdand-15 situation at the NHS 38. However, senior quarterback Isaac Hickman completed a 10-yard pass to junior Conner Puskarich. Coach Kerns decided to roll the dice and go for it and it paid off as Hickman hooked up with senior Ronnie Rominger for a 28-yard scoring strike on the next play. The point-after kick missed the mark, but the Warriors had a comfortable 14-0 lead with just 5:28 remaining in the half.

Just one week after a 23-yard scoring connection in Caldwell by the Hickman-Rominger duo, Kerns hinted that opponents may see more of the lethal duo in the future.

“Hickman to Rominger is becoming a good connection for us,” he beamed. “It is my hope that connection only strengthens in the next eight weeks. Ronnie is a great route runner and will go up and get the ball.”

Buckeye Trail received the second half kickoff, but was forced to punt by the Trojans (1-1). Rominger, who handles punting duties as well, pinned the Trojans deep in their territory at the 12-yard line. However, the visitors responded with an impressive 15-play, 88-yard march, capped off by a three-yard touchdown run by junior Ryan Miller. Senior Gavin Weaver added the point-after, pulling NHS to 14-7 with 1:48 left in the third.

Newcomerstown had an opportunity to possibly tie the Warriors or take the lead in the fourth quarter, but once again, the Warriors’ D rose to the challenge and forced the fifth NHS punt of the game.

“Our defense is playing well,” Kerns noted. “I think our offense kind of helps our defense by slowing the game down and keeping them off the field. When we went really fast the last few years, we would have to score in the 30s to win. We aren’t built to do that this year. As much as I would love to be the highpowered offense, sometimes you just have to be truthful with yourself and play to the strengths of the kids you have.”

“Our defense is playing well,” Kerns noted. “I think our offense kind of helps our defense by slowing the game down and keeping them off the field. When we went really fast the last few years, we would have to score in the 30s to win. We aren’t built to do that this year. As much as I would love to be the highpowered offense, sometimes you just have to be truthful with yourself and play to the strengths of the kids you have.”

Jack Parry Rushes in for 6!

Well, the Warriors flexed their offensive muscles by putting the game on ice on their ensuing possession. Two false starts early in the drive looked costly, but a Trojan personal foul gave BT new life at its own 37. On first down, junior Marcus Masters ripped off a 26-yard run, moving the hosts to the Trojans’ 36. Six plays later, Rome broke off a 19-yard run, setting the Warriors up at the NHS two-yard line. Hickman found the end zone on the next play with a two-yard run at the 3:10 mark, giving the Warriors a two-score lead and securing the victory.

Kerns praised the big plays of Masters, Rome and Hickman on the last drive. “Marcus had a huge run for us on that last drive, but that’s the kind of player he is,” Kerns stated. “I really think he has the capabilities to be a bell cow type running back for us in the near future.”

“Franko is our big play guy,” he continued.” Somehow, someway, we have to get him a lot more touches. He is the kid who can take it the distance every time he gets in space.” “Isaac is a great leader for us. He is a kid I really enjoy coaching. You can get on him and it never fazes him. He takes it in stride,” Kerns concluded.

Leaders for the Warriors on offense were: Hickman was 3-of-6 for 67 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for 80 yards and a score on 22 carries; and Parry rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown on 11 attempts.

Kerns said he was most pleased with his offensive line’s growth from week one to week two, culminating in 292 yards of offense and no sacks. “I was really impressed with our offensive line improving the way it did. Newcomerstown had not been scored on and we knew they were much better than people thought. We averaged five yards per carry. That is controlling the line of scrimmage for sure.”

On defense, Parry led the team with 11 tackles. Senior Kacey Ruckman and junior Austin Paden added 4.5 tackles each.

Kerns raved about Parry, the unit’s leader from the linebacker position.

“Jack is a really good linebacker,” he added. “He is the heart and soul of our defense. Any time the ball is snapped…he has his mind made up that he is going to try to make the tackle.”

Trail had 15 first downs; 225 yards rushing on 44 attempts; 67 yards passing; eight penalties for 80 yards; and didn’t turn the ball over.

The Trojans had nine first downs; 107 yards rushing, led by senior Wyatt Conner’s 84 yards on 17 carries; 27 yards passing; two penalties for 30 yards; and one turnover.

NEXT–Buckeye Trail hosts Barnesville on Friday while the Trojans host East Canton. Both games kick off at 7 p.m.


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