Category: Minford

Pirates’ playoff win means season sweep of Falcons



Pirates’ playoff win means season sweep of Falcons

By Paul Boggs

WHEELERSBURG — It all began, innocently enough, with an onside kick.
Turns out it was the kick-start that got the host Wheelersburg Pirates warmed up on a cold night — and off and literally running.
With Wheelersburg recovering an onside kick to open the second half, and the tide turning to the Pirates’ favor in the form of 242 second-half rushing yards, Saturday night’s much-anticipated rematch against the Minford Falcons went Wheelersburg’s way — with the Pirates going up and eventually holding on for a 28-23 Division V Region 19 quarterfinal victory inside Ed Miller Stadium in Wheelersburg.

With the win, the Pirates extended their OHSAA regional quarterfinal winning streak to seven, as this is the eighth consecutive season in which Wheelersburg has not only competed in the playoffs — but also has hosted a regional quarterfinal.
The third-seeded Pirates and sixth-seed Falcons both entered at 7-3, but — largely thanks to Wheelersburg’s 21-20 overtime triumph over the host Falcons (7-4) on Oct. 4 — the Pirates (8-3) got the home game.

And, for the second time in a season against Minford — and for the fifth time in Wheelersburg head coach Rob Woodward’s dozen campaigns — the Pirates defeated the same squad in the regular season…AND in the playoffs.
In fact, the first time that happened was Woodward’s first season as head coach — against Minford in 2008 (14-7 in regular season and 14-6 in regional quarterfinals).
But for the Pirates, the plan is simple in November.
Just keep playing.

“We just want to be playing in week 12 and here we are. No matter whom it is against,” said Woodward. “We have guys that make big-time plays in big-time playoff games. In all three phases. We’ll take it. It’s playoff football. You just want to still be playing. We had some miscues in the first half, but we made some adjustments and reached into our toolbox to find some things that we could do differently. Our coaches communicated those with our kids and we were able to make some successful changes in the second half. Minford come in here very prepared, threw everything at us, gave us a tremendous battle. Our kids did enough of what they needed to do to ensure we came away with the win. We did some things that we recognized that were effective enough for us. We’ll go back and fix the things that we need to fix, but we’re still playing next week.”

And, next Saturday night to be exact, the Pirates play undefeated Ridgewood in a Region 19 semifinal — at 7 p.m. at Lancaster’s Fulton Field.
Early on, though, it appeared as if Minford — making its first playoff appearance since 2012 — might be the one advancing, as the Falcons forced a pair of Pirate punts and a turnover on downs while driving 10 plays over five minutes and eight seconds in the first quarter to lead 3-0 at halftime.

Matthew Risner made a 27-yard field goal with 3:38 remaining in the opening period, and that kick held up — as Braxton Sammons missed a 32-yard attempt for Wheelersburg with six-and-a-half seconds left in the first half.

But special teams indeed was a theme, and Wheelersburg was just getting kick-started.

Sammons made all four of his extra-point attempts, and the Pirates presumably put the game out of reach at 28-10 with only 3:53 remaining — after Wheelersburg recovered a Sammons squib kick at the Minford 19-yard-line following the Falcons fumbling the return.

“Braxton (Sammons) made all four extra points, did a great job kicking off, and we recovered two onside kicks. We’ll take recovering that squib kick at the 20 in the fourth quarter. We’re always trying to take advantage of things when we can,” said Woodward. “Playoff football is often won on special teams.”
Is was on Saturday night.

Following the Pirates’ collectively and Sammons individually executing the onside kick to start the second half, Wheelersburg went off for 242 rushing yards on 27 carries— scoring all 28 points in a matter of 20 minutes.

The Pirates attempted only a single second-half pass, but definitely didn’t need to throw, especially when Makya Matthews and quarterback Evan Horsley had their wheels working in the cold just fine.

After 11 carries for 40 yards in the opening half, Matthews erupted for 164 yards and a hat trick of touchdowns on 14 rushes in the second.
His two short scoring runs of six and seven yards came exactly 52 seconds apart in the fourth quarter, making it 28-10 for Wheelersburg’s largest lead.
Matthews amounted a massive 204 yards on 25 carries, as Horsley had 14 total carries for 93 yards — with eight tries for 64 yards in the second half.
Horsley’s one-yard dive to cap a 10-play, 80-yard, four-minute and 17-second scoring drive put the Pirates in front for good at 14-10.

Hunter Ruby rushed five times for 24 yards, as three kneel-downs in the victory formation at the end of the game gave Wheelersburg 318 rushing yards on 47 carries.
Horsley completed half of his eight passes for 38 yards, but it was Wheelersburg’s second-half ground assault which wore the Falcons out.
“I’ve always commended our guys on their ability to continue to play for four quarters and their conditioning that they work themselves through. This week was no different. It showed tonight,” said Woodward. “Our guys just kept cranking it up and playing at a high level, which is what we want. We always tell our guys to win it in the fourth quarter. Even if you’re struggling throughout, just continue to push and persevere and win it in the fourth.”

But the Pirates had to get kick-started first, which was on the onside kick to open the third.

Sammons calmly kicked the ball, hovered over it almost as it rolled the necessary 10 yards before being touched, and then the Pirates fell on it at the Falcon 47-yard-line.
Minford coach Jesse Ruby said his Falcons actually “expected” the onsider, but “unfortunately, we just didn’t recover it”.
“They did a nice job of not touching it in the first 10 yards. It slow-rolled and it let them get there and get a good recovery, he said.

The Pirates took immediate advantage, as Matthews — on the same back-to-back running play-call — dashed up the middle for nine yards, before bursting for 38 yards to the end zone only 39 seconds in.

Sammons made the extra point for the 7-3 Wheelersburg lead, as the Pirates then answered a quick Minford score with their second touchdown that featured five carries apiece by Matthews and Horsley.

Minford, meanwhile, moved the ball as well — amassing 309 yards on 57 plays from scrimmage, with a balance of 35 rushes for 141 yards and Elijah Voglesong-Lewis completing 13-of-22 passes for 168 yards.

Ty Wiget, the Falcons’ senior standout running back who had 71 yards on 11 carries, had 41 of them on one run just a minute-and-a-half into the third quarter — from the Wheelersburg 44 all the way to the three.

Wiget then scored on the next play, as Minford’s 51-yard and 53-second scoring drive — with Risner’s extra-point kick — gave the Falcons a 10-7 advantage.
But other than that TD, and Voglesong-Lewis’ two short scoring runs within a minute of each other in the final two-and-a-half minutes to get the Falcons to within 28-23, Minford failed to put touchdowns on the board once inside the 25-yard line.

Coach Ruby said that Minford made mistakes that indeed impacted its performance.
“Self-inflicted mistakes, whether that’s a penalty or a missed assignment or a missed block or a missed tackle or taking a sack or dropping a catch, those situations certainly hurt,” he said. “They are just critical in a playoff atmosphere. It’s just unfortunate that we had a few. But every play matters. Offense, defense and special teams. It showed tonight in all three phases. Every play tonight, every play against Wheelersburg this year had a pivotal role at some point in time.”

In the first quarter, a Voglesong-Lewis short-screen pass completion to Bryson Ashley for 33 yards moved the Falcons to the Pirate 10, but a fumble on the exchange two plays later stalled the drive — and forced the Falcons to kick the Risner field goal.

A full 12 minutes later, Minford moved as deep as the Pirate 17, but a holding penalty pushed the Falcons back to the 28, as a Voglesong-Lewis pass on 4th-and-11 from the 23 into the end zone was dropped.

Both of those first-half drives were 10 plays, as — trailing 14-10 — the Falcons drove eight plays and as deep as the Wheelersburg 22.
But on 3rd-down-and-8, the Pirates sacked Voglesong-Lewis for a 13-yard loss, resulting in a punt which Minford misjudged in an attempt to down it near the goal-line.
Wheelersburg then went three-and-out, and a Risner return to the Pirate 46 set shop up for the Falcons at the outset of the fourth quarter.
Minford moved nine plays in three minutes and five seconds to the 14, but three straight incompletions — and a two-yard gain on 4th-down by Voglesong-Lewis — left it empty-handed again.
The Pirate defense did bend at times, but it definitely didn’t break.

“They got down towards the red zone, and we bowed our backs. We stopped them a couple times on fourth down, we forced a punt, we forced a field goal. Some huge defensive plays down in the red zone that we needed to make,” said Woodward. “Those all add up in a big playoff game like this.”
Voglesong-Lewis led the Falcons with 18 carries for 61 yards, as Risner recorded eight receptions for 106 yards — while rushing four times for 10.
Meanwhile, more of Matthews and Horsley had the Pirates up 21-10 with 4:45 remaining, as Wheelersburg drove 88 yards in only eight plays in four-and-a-half minutes with Matthews scoring from six yards out.

After the Pirates recovered the ensuing Sammons squib-kick kickoff, Ruby ran a jet sweep for 12 yards to the seven, as Matthews covered those final seven yards to make it 28-10 just 52 seconds later.

“We just mishandled that ball. We had a couple of guys with an opportunity to get it, and every time we jumped on the ball, it squirted out and their guys were able to make a play and get on it,” said Coach Ruby.

Minford made the final 3:39 interesting, though, as Risner’s return of 50 yards of the ensuing kickoff and pass completion to him for 21 set up Voglesong-Lewis’ six-yard run at the two-and-a-half minute mark.

Risner made the extra point for the 11-point deficit (28-17), as the Falcons then executed and recovered an onside kick of their own — and were right back at midfield.
Another Voglesong-Lewis completion to Risner, this one for 34 yards, quickly moved Minford to the Wheelersburg three-yard-line — as Voglesong-Lewis ran in again three plays later with a minute-and-a-half remaining.

But the Falcons failed on the two-point conversion pass attempt, and after another Falcon onside kick which Wheelersburg recovered, Minford’s comeback bid was officially over — as well as its comeback season.

“I thought our kids played hard and well throughout the whole game, but Wheelersburg made some key plays in the second half. When you are down 28-10 and there’s three minutes to go, you can see a team just easily lay down and give up. I was very proud of our kids for coming back and showing resiliency, making a big play, getting in the end zone, recovering an onside kick and getting back in the end zone again in that short amount of time,” said Coach Ruby. “We had two touchdowns there in a minute. Their effort all night was great.”
Minford started last season 6-0, then lost the final four games to fall out of playoff contention.

The Falcons were on a similar slide this year, having lost two of three after opening 5-0 — and sitting one spot out of the playoffs prior to their regular-season finale against Valley.
But Minford shut out Valley, and Waverly won at Oak Hill, thus propelling the Falcons into the Region 19 quarterfinals.
Minford will graduate and say goodbye to 15 seniors, as Ruby said the group was “very good”.

“These seniors were huge to this team this year. I’ve been head coach for four years, so I’ve had them all since they were freshmen,”he said. “Just to see their attitude and leadership and work ethic over the last four years get better and better, they will be missed. They’ve worked hard to try and improve our program. They’ve carried themselves so well throughout this whole season.”
For the Pirates, they play on against second-seeded Ridgewood, whom Woodward and Wheelersburg are quite familiar with.

“We’ve played them in the past. Coach (John) Slusser and I know one another well,” said the coach. “He has a quality good football team and program. It’s going to be a battle.”

* * *
Wheelersburg 28, Minford 23
Minford 3 0 7 13 — 23
Wheelersburg 0 0 14 14 — 28
M — Matthew Risner, 27-yard field goal, 3:38, 1st (3-0 M)
W — Makya Matthews, 38-yard run (Braxton Sammons kick), 11:21, 3rd (7-3 W)
M — Ty Wiget, 3-yard run (Matthew Risner kick), 10:26, 3rd (10-7 M)
W — Evan Horsley, 1-yard run (Braxton Sammons kick), 6:09, 3rd (14-10 W)
W — Makya Matthews, 6-yard run (Braxton Sammons kick), 4:45, 4th (21-10 W)
W — Makya Matthews, 7-yard run (Braxton Sammons kick), 3:53, 4th (28-10 W)
M — Elijah Voglesong-Lewis, 6-yard run (Matthew Risner kick), 2:33, 4th (28-17 W)
M — Elijah Voglesong-Lewis, 3-yard run (pass failed), 1:29, 4th (28-23 W)

Team Statistics
First downs 15 17
Plays from scrimmage 57 55
Rushes-yards 35-141 47-318
Passing yards 168 38
Total yards 309 356
Cmp-Att-Int. 13-22-0 4-8-0
Fumbles-lost 3-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 6-56 8-90
Punts-average 2-36 3-31.7
Individual Leaders
RUSHING —Minford: Elijah Voglesong-Lewis 18-61 2TD, Ty Wiget 11-71, Matthew Risner 4-10, Timmy Walk 1-1, Team 1-(-2); Wheelersburg: Makya Matthews 25-204 3TD, Evan Horsley 14-93 TD, Hunter Ruby 5-24, Team 3-(-3)
PASSING — Minford: Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis 13-22-0-168; Wheelersburg: Evan Horsley 4-8-0-38
RECEIVING — Minford: Matthew Risner 8-106, Bryson Ashley 2-46, Drew Skaggs 2-11, Ty Wiget 1-5 ; Wheelersburg: Eli Swords 2-26, Makya Matthews 1-8, Hunter Ruby 1-4


Evan Horsley48038014931000
Hunter Ruby000005240140
23Eli Swords000000002260
29Makya Matthews00000252043180
# Defense Sacks Tackles INT FGM FGA


Tim Walk00000110000
2Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis13220168018612000
7Matthew Risner00000410081060
11Drew Skaggs000000002110
25Ty Wiget0000011710150
30Bryson Ashley000000002460
# Defense Sacks Tackles INT FGM FGA


Date Time League Season
November 9, 2019 7:00 pm Playoffs 2019

The rematch: Minford, ‘Burg meet again after epic OT duel

The rematch: Minford, ‘Burg meet again after epic OT duel

By Paul Boggs

Usually, the sequel is not as good — and just doesn’t live up to the hype — of the original.

For the visiting Minford Falcons and host Wheelersburg Pirates, let’s just hope they can buck that trend.

That’s because, for the second time this season, the two Scioto County and Southern Ohio Conference Division II rivals meet on the gridiron — only this time the encore takes place inside Ed Miller Stadium in Wheelersburg in a Division V, Region 19 quarterfinal tilt.

Both squads are 7-3, as kickoff is set for Saturday night at 7 p.m. — inside what should be an amped-up, and overflow, Ed Miller Stadium.

Wheelersburg, winning the outright SOC II championship for the sixth straight season, is hosting a regional quarterfinal for the eighth consecutive campaign.

The Orange and Black battled back from an uncharacteristic 2-3 start, which included three setbacks to teams with a combined staggering record of 28-2.
Also unusual for the tradition-rich and proud Pirate program was only having four regular-season home bouts, so a playoff affair for a fifth was a positive consequence.

“We’re just extremely proud of our senior group and what they’ve been able to accomplish this year in a gauntlet of a schedule. We knew it was going to be a tough 10-game stretch for us. As it has shaken out, we had the eighth-toughest schedule in Division V in the entire state. We lost to three teams with a combined record of 28-2. But our seniors have never doubted anything or wavered.

Head Coach Rob Woodard

Current Team
They just continue to work and strive to get themselves better. They’ve pushed the younger kids and the younger guys have stepped up in areas where we needed them,” said Wheelersburg coach Rob Woodward, in an interview on Tuesday. “In terms of the program, we knew what we were working towards this year. Our guys continue to battle with that. They won an SOC II title again, and earned a home playoff game again. With only four home games this year and how our schedule worked out, a home playoff game is definitely something I wanted to see for our seniors and our community.”

The Pirates captured the third seed in Region 19, while the Falcons — which are making their first playoff appearance since 2012 — swooped in for the sixth seed.
Minford fell from fourth to ninth in the Region 19 computer rankings following back-to-back defeats against Oak Hill and at Waverly, and needed not onlyto defeat Valley in the regular-season finale — but also an Oak Hill loss to Waverly.

The Falcons got both, as fourth-year head coach Jesse Ruby returns to the playoffs, as he served on the staff of multiple Minford playoff appearances from 2007 thru 2010 — and again in 2012.

“Our kids came out and accomplished a lot of the things we want to accomplish. We played really good football for a stretch in the first half of the year. There are always moments you look back in the season and wish you would have done better, but overall, I think the team is happy with how their season went,” said Ruby, in an interview on Tuesday. “Being back in the playoffs again is something we don’t take for granted. To get to this point, it doesn’t happen as frequently as you would like for it to. It really means something to make the playoffs in football. It’s important to play and defeat quality opponents, and play your best football each week.”
Speaking of 2012, it was the year before that when the Pirates last missed the postseason, as their now 31st appearance sits sixth for most all-time in Ohio High School Athletic Association history.

Wheelersburg is 38-28 all-time in the tournament, while Minford — making its ninth all-time appearance — is 3-8.
One of those eight losses was to Wheelersburg, as the two teams faced off in the regional quarterfinals of 2008 — with Wheelersburg winning 14-6.

Last season, the Pirates played Portsmouth West in both the regular-season and SOC II finale — and then again in the Region 19 quarterfinals.

For Woodward, winding down his 12th season as the Pirates’ head coach and 17th in the program, was asked about playing the same squad twice in one year.
It’s happened with Ironton twice in fact, in both 2014 and 2015, in which Wheelersburg won the playoff matchup 38-7 after defeating the Fighting Tigers in the annual season opener.

Now, it’s Minford’s two-times turn again.
“I always tell our guys control the things we can control, and that is putting ourselves in the best situation that we can. Whomever our opponent is, we’re going to have to go out and prepare for like anyone else,” said Woodward. “Our guys were just excited to get that home playoff game. Minford is going to be a tough opponent, and playoff football is playoff football. You have to be ready to go each and every week.”

It’s safe to say, though, that the Falcons are licking their chops for a second shot at the ‘Burg.
In their week-six meeting at Minford, as the then-undefeated Falcons welcomed Wheelersburg that was perhaps viewed as most vulnerable, the Pirates pulled off an epic 21-20 overtime triumph — stopping the Falcons’ two-point conversion attempt after Minford’s Matthew Risner reached out and made an acrobatic over-the-shoulder touchdown catch for the 21-20 deficit.
With that victory, Wheelersburg won its 22nd consecutive SOC II game — en route to another championship and a 26-game league winning streak which will carry over into next season.

It was an electric, standing-room-only, and super-hyped atmosphere at Minford High School, and it was a game in which every play pretty much mattered in the outcome.
It started on the game’s fourth play, in which Minford standout running back Ty Wiget — with wide-open running room — was five yards away from a 52-yard touchdown dart.

But Wheelersburg’s primary playmaker, Makya Matthews, made probably the Pirates’ play of the season — sprinting and chasing down Wiget at the 5-yard line and tomahawk-chopping the football loose and into the end zone.

The Pirates recovered for a touchback, essentially saving their season in the process.
Both teams hit for long touchdown passes to Matthews (76 yards in the the quarter) and Risner (59 yards in the third quarter), but a 67-yard scoring strike to Risner from Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis was negated on a holding penalty.

Ruby said the mistakes Minford made against the Pirates pertained not to scheme, but to execution.

Head Coach Jesse Ruby

Current Team
“I felt we played very well, but there were little things in terms of a linebacker misreading a key, or the quarterback missing a read on a pass, it’s those little things. Not anything with particular play calls or if we would have ran a different defensive look,” said the coach. “I think so much of it was an execution thing. Overall, I thought our gameplan and the way our kids executed that was pretty good. Just the little things of those issues.”

Of course, not getting the two-point conversion attempt — which would have given Minford its first win over Wheelersburg since 2009 — still stings with the Falcons to this very day.

Thus, Minford’s motivation for a rematch goes without saying.

“The initial sting of losing that night bothered our kids. But reflecting back at it, I felt like our kids felt pretty good about the way they played that game. They definitely would love to have an opportunity to do it again. To see if they can make it a different result,” said Ruby. “I think they are very excited about the situation we have.”
But while the Falcons have whom they want, the Pirates are indeed a different team than from six weeks ago.
It was in that game, in fact, in which Wheelersburg went with senior Evan Horsley at quarterback for good — as he replaced an ineffective Aaron Masters in the second quarter.

Horsley hooked up with Matthews for a 76-yard touchdown pass for a 7-0 Pirate lead, as Horsley had three completions on seven attempts that night — while rushing for 92 yards on 14 carries.

Since then, the Pirates have scored at least 41 points in their final four games — including 55 at Oak Hill, as Horsley has rushed for 429 yards and five TDs on 76 carries.

As a passer, he has completed 31-of-53 for 58-percent, amassing 601 yards and nine scores.
Woodward said Horsley has evolved the Pirate offense from a simpler package of plays against the Falcons until now, as these Pirates are more run-oriented.
In Wheelersburg’s 42-28 triumph over Waverly, Matthews carried 29 times for 267 yards and a hat trick of scores — while wide receiver Hunter Ruby ran several jet sweeps.
“At that time (Minford game), we were evaluating things, and knew what Evan (Horsley) could bring to the table,” said Woodward. “We felt we needed to make that switch at that time. We were able to utilize a small set of plays that we had repped with him there, but since that time, we’ve really been able to expand on what we’re able to do. Evan brings such a leadership and commanding presence at the quarterback position. He is a threat to run, he recognizes how plays are meant to be executed and where to go with the football. And if it doesn’t, he does a great job of checking down and improvising and continuing to make sure positive yards are gained on a given play. That offensive consistency has taken pressure off our defense, allowing them to be more attacking and aggressive, which is definitely what we strive to be and play better at.”

Coach Ruby concurred that Horsley brings a greater running element to the Pirate offense.

“Evan Horsley is such a good runner. Now he has the ball in his hands every play. It just makes them more dynamic in the way they can attack you, given his skill sets,” he said. “His ability to run the ball, especially in the middle, off a fake to Matthews running outside or things of that nature really poses a threat to a defense. Our kids have to be able to read their assignment and not get caught looking in the backfield.”

The Pirates have big-play ability as do the fast Falcons, who can quickly strike with the likes of Vogelsong-Lewis, Wiget, Risner and Drew Skaggs.

Wiget rushed 25 times for 143 yards against Wheelersburg, while Vogelsong-Lewis completed 8-of-12 passes for 143 yards.

For the season, Vogelsong-Lewis has thrown for 1,429 yards and 16 scores on 82-of-151, while rushing for 708 and seven TDs on 114 carries.

Wiget has amassed 1,358 yards and 18 touchdowns on 197 attempts, while catching 16 passes for 156 yards out of the backfield.

Risner with 557 yards and seven touchdowns and Skaggs with 467 yards and six scores have 25 receptions apiece.

“They are spreading the ball around to more guys, so we have to make sure we account for them, but we know that Ty Wiget and (Elijah) Vogelsong-Lewis are threats to score on any given play,” said Woodward. “They have a lot of speed that we are well-aware of.”
But Ruby believes better ball control against Wheelersburg “would help” his offense out.

“We have been a big-strike offense. We’ve always had the ability to score from anywhere on the field with our speed and in a variety of ways,” he said. “But we have to improve on being able to sustain drives and convert on third down, and have the mentality that we need to get four yards on every play and not 50. So we can continue to move the chains and eat up some of the clock. Wheelersburg is similar to us in that they have a lot of fast players, they can score very quickly, and they have big-play potential. If you can limit their possessions, it can work to your advantage.”

Although, while possessions may or may not be limited, it’s highly likely there will be more of unlimited hype.
After all, the two schools are an estimated 15 minutes apart — and play each other once-a-year in already a high-stakes regular-season match.

Throw in Saturday night being a playoff game…and we can only hope that the sequel is better than the original.
“It’s a playoff game, plus it’s a game in which the first meeting was decided by one point in overtime. People in and around the area want to see how this game is going to go again,” said Ruby. “It’s hard for me to express to our players how big I think this game is going to be. If you thought the first game was big, this one will be twice as much.”

And, all that HAS to happen is the winning team be at least one point better than the losing club.
“Even if it’s one point again, the key focus we have is to have fun playing the game, feed off of each other’s energy, and go out and win in advance. In the playoffs, you have to do everything you can to execute and do the things you need to do, regardless of the opponent. Everybody plays in the playoffs with a heightened energy, with a heightened level of play,” said Woodward. “We have to understand that we’ve got five rungs on the ladder that we want to work to climb. Our guys are doing a great job of preparing for that this week.”

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Waverly no huddle and speed too much for Falcons



By Paul Boggs

Photos by Renee Nemeth

WAVERLY — Simply put, odds are that the Waverly Tigers are the fastest team of 10-play scoring drives you’ll ever see.

On Friday night, the Minford Falcons found that out first-hand.

In scoring on five drives of at least nine plays, and in five minutes or less for each of them, the host Tigers officially punched their tickets to the 2019 Division IV state playoffs — defeating the Falcons 38-22 in a fast-paced Southern Ohio Conference Division II tilt at festive Raidiger Field in Waverly.

That’s correct.

Waverly’s no-huddle hurry-it-up offense keeps everybody on their toes and paying attention, and in their goal of wearing the Falcons down with an overdose of Payton Shoemaker mixed in with Haydn’ Shanks slinging the football all around, the Tigers scored in a variety of ways — while amassing 456 yards and 26 first downs on a whopping 76 plays from scrimmage.

“They (Tigers) are just a high-powered fast-paced offense. They get snaps off every 15 seconds. They are very efficient at what they do and have weapons all over the field. They like to go super up-tempo and it does stress the defense,” said Minford coach Jesse Ruby.

In addition, the senior standout Shoemaker — on Senior Night at Waverly High School — set the school’s single-season rushing record, which is now at 1,864 yards following his massive 43-carry 214-yard and two 1-yard TD night.

Of the Tigers’ 297 total rushes this season, the five-foot nine-inch 155-pound Shoemaker now has 232 — while rushing for 1,864 yards and 25 touchdowns, which is good for an average of exactly eight yards per tote.

Shoemaker broke the previous record held by Zach Montavon from 2001, as confetti — early, often and even late — flew from the home stands in celebration of not only Shoemaker’s accomplishments, but also the entire Tiger team.

The junior quarterback Shanks, playing on an injured knee all season which has limited his mobility, stood in the pocket and continually found receivers in the flat — to the tune of 193 yards and 21 completions on 29 attempts.

Two of Shanks’ actual downfield throws, to Will Futhey, resulted in two touchdown tosses of 31 and 15 yards — as Futhey finished with seven receptions for 81 yards.

Four other Tigers — Phoenix Wolf (five for 38), Penn Morrison (four for 51), Zeke Brown (three for 12) and Mark Stulley (two for 11) — all caught at least two balls.

“We were happy with the way we were able to perform offensively tonight,” said Waverly coach Chris Crabtree. “Haydn’ (Shanks) does a good job of getting the ball out on the edge, and obviously with our offensive line blocking for Payton (Shoemaker), who had another great night on Senior Night here by breaking the school’s single-season rushing record.”

Then there’s senior Grayson Diener, which is Waverly’s weapon as a placekicker.

Diener drilled seven kickoffs on Friday night — five of which went for touchbacks along with two others which were returned right from the goal-line.

The all-Ohio Division IV kicker calmly connected on all five of his extra-point kicks, and made it a full two-touchdown lead with his 29-yard field goal with four-and-a-half minutes remaining.

With Waverly so difficult to stop, it should be no surprise that the Tigers are officially full-steam ahead into the state playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, as — per the unofficial yet respected computer rankings website — they have clinched a playoff spot in Region 15.

Should Waverly win at Oak Hill in its regular-season finale, the Tigers will indeed host a regional quarterfinal on Saturday night, Nov. 9.

The top eight teams in each region qualify for the playoffs – with the top four squads earning first-round home bouts.

Both clubs entered Friday’s colossal affair at 6-2, while Waverly is now 3-1 in the SOC II — with the Falcons falling to 2-3.

Speaking of the top eight, those same unofficial ratings list Minford — as of early Saturday morning — as the ninth-ranked team in Division V, Region 19.

Just two weeks ago, the Falcons were fourth, but an upset loss last week to visiting Oak Hill dropped them to sixth — and now ninth.

Minford must now defeat visiting Valley next week, and may or may not need additional assistance in order to qualify for for the first time since 2012.

The Falcons found themselves playing catch-up with Waverly for the overwhelming majority, trailing for all but a span of two minutes and 46 seconds in the entire game.

They trailed 7-0 at the 4:25 mark of the opening quarter, but almost a dozen minutes later led 10-7, only to see Shanks engineer a second 10-play scoring drive of least 78 yards and two minutes and 41 seconds — and complete his second touchdown pass to Futhey for a 14-10 Tiger advantage.

Ty Wiget’s 14-yard touchdown run capped an impressive 14-play 64-yard five-and-a-half minute scoring drive, as Wiget — who had the first and final carries of the series but missed the remainder because of cramps — gave way to quarterback Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis and all-purpose performer Matthew Risner.

How good was this Minford tandem?

While Wiget rushed for 64 yards on 13 carries and caught three passes for 39 yards, Risner relieved him at tailback — and carried seven times for 33 yards while making five catches for a hefty 123.

Vogelsong-Lewis, the elusive and athletic left-handed signal-caller, completed 15 of his 18 pass attempts for 246 yards while rushing 15 times for 26.

“Minford has some good athletes with (Elijah) Vogelsong-Lewis, (Ty) Wiget, (Matthew) Risner and (Drew) Skaggs. They made a lot of big plays. But our goal was to get Wiget going sideways and keep him in front of us as much as we could. Vogelsong-Lewis is a running threat at quarterback, and he does a great job of rolling out and eluding the sack,” said Crabtree.

But unfortunately for the Falcons, Risner — who successfully made a 26-yard field goal with 28 seconds left in the first quarter and followed that up with his 32-yard touchdown reception and subsequent extra-point kick midway through the second stanza — missed the PAT following Wiget’s TD.


The Falcons then trailed 31-16 following Diener’s field goal with 4:34 to play, but four quick Vogelsong-Lewis completions — to Bryson Ashley for eight yards, two to Wiget for 15 and 21 yards and a 36-yard scoring strike to Drew Skaggs only a minute later — got Minford to within 31-22.

However, forced to attempt a two-point conversion, the run failed — and now the Falcons needed two scores to tie or take the lead instead of just one with the extra point.

They almost got it — believe it or not.

The Tigers went four plays on the ensuing possession, as Shoemaker carried twice to midfield before an incomplete pass — in which the Falcons knocked Shanks out of the game.

Facing 4th-and-3 from the 50, Shoemaker managed just two yards on the fourth-down carry, giving the ball back to the Falcons at exactly the three-minute mark.

But Shoemaker atoned three plays and 34 seconds later, when a Minford receiver slipped and fell down — and Shoemaker intercepted Vogelsong-Lewis at the Tiger 42-yard-line.

Finally, fellow senior Hunter Ward spelled Shoemaker on the next Waverly possession — and promptly picked up seven yards before putting the game out of reach with a 52-yard scoring scamper at the 2:05 point.

Crabtree was happy for Ward to score such a touchdown on Senior Night, as the Tigers only sport eight seniors.

Shoemaker, of course, is the most noteworthy — as he touched the ball for 43 of Waverly’s 47 rushes, with Ward’s two and two team kneel-downs being the others.

Shoemaker’s second 1-yard touchdown plunge answered Wiget’s scoring run, and ended a nine-play 70-yard drive which picked up five first downs but only lasted a minute and 51 seconds.

That made it 28-16 with Diener’s extra point and just 46 seconds gone by in the fourth quarter, as the Tigers then forced the fourth Falcon punt — and third three-and-out possession.

The Tigers then drove another 10 plays from their own 33 to the Minford 12 — and actually consumed five minutes and 10 seconds — as Diener delivered down the middle on his field-goal attempt to make it 31-16.

That was the Tigers’ second such well-executed ball-control second-half series, as arguably their longest drive in terms of yards and plays put them up 21-10 — and devoured the first four minutes of the third-quarter clock.

Mixing Shoemaker with Shanks passes, once again Waverly gained five first downs — marching a massive 83 yards in 14 plays and capped off by Shoemaker’s first 1-yard score.

His third carry of that series, for six yards to midfield, officially gave him the single-season rushing record at Waverly.

But it was that touchdown that followed up the Tigers’ final first-half defensive stop, with Minford stopping itself, that was more important.

With Waverly leading 14-10, and with 2:43 to play before halftime, the Falcons quickly moved into Tiger territory — thanks largely on a deep pass completion of 53 yards from Vogelsong-Lewis to Risner.

From the Tiger 16, Minford manged to get to the 6-yard-line, but back-to-back five-yard penalties pushed the ball backward — and two plays later Vogelsong-Lewis lost five yards.

That set up a 29-yard Falcon field-goal attempt as time was rapidly running out, but the Tigers swarmed, bull-rushed and blocked Risner’s kick — and returned it all the way to midfield.

“We were good tonight on our end about not making the mental mistakes. It’s great when you can get a team like Minford behind the chains, because it changes their play-calling,” said Crabtree. “Getting the blocked field goal there was crucial and was a big stop for us, then we follow that up with the first drive of the second half and score a touchdown.”

Indeed, by Minford getting nothing and the Tigers taking advantage immediately after halftime, it was a gigantic point-swing.

“That was a critical point in the game, and we failed to execute in that situation. Then credit them for starting off the second half with such a good drive and getting another score,” said Ruby. “Any time you play a team as good as Waverly, you have to take care of the little things. When your beat yourself with penalties and put yourself behind the chains, it makes it so tough to continue to convert on second down or third down. At times, I thought we executed very well on offense and moved the ball and ate up a lot of the clock to keep Shoemaker and their offense off the field. We just didn’t have the chance to do it as much as we needed to tonight.”

The Falcons were whistled for six five-yard penalties as well — five of which were false starts.

They also turned the ball over twice in the second half, including a lost fumble two plays after falling behind 21-10.

But Minford continued to battle, as Ruby said the effort was much improved over last week’s disappointing loss to Oak Hill.

“I thought our effort was great tonight and our kids were resilient and kept rebounding whenever there was a negative play or they scored,” said Ruby. “We just didn’t make enough plays or make enough scores to get closer to where we could have pulled it out late in the game.”

Now, to in fact qualify for the playoffs, the Falcons need to duplicate that determination against the rival Indians.

“Our kids’ mindset this week will be going out and getting a victory over Valley and get in the playoffs,” said Ruby.

As for the Tigers, they are already in the postseason — as they travel to Oak Hill with hopes of giving their seniors one final home game.

Which would be another opportunity to see some of the fastest fast-paced football you’ll ever see.

“We’re in the playoffs regardless, but we want to win that last game to get that home game in week-11. You don’t want to end the regular season with a loss,” said Crabtree. “Hopefully, another week here, we get healthy with a few guys and have a good week of practice for Oak Hill, then get excited about what we have postseason-wise.”

* * *

Minford 3 7 6 6 — 22

Waverly 7 7 7 17— 38

W — Will Futhey, 31-yard pass from Haydn’ Shanks (Grayson Diener kick), 4:25, 1st (7-0 W)

M — Matthew Risner, 26-yard FG, :28, 1st (7-3 W)

M — Matthew Risner, 32-yard pass from Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis (Matthew Risner kick), 5:36, 2nd (10-7 M)

W — Will Futhey, 15-yard pass from Haydn’ Shanks (Grayson Diener kick), 2:50, 2nd (14-10 W)

W — Payton Shoemaker, 1-yard run (Grayson Diener kick), 8:01, 3rd (21-10 W)

M — Ty Wiget, 14-yard run (kick failed), 1:09, 3rd (21-16 W)

W — Payton Shoemaker, 1-yard run (Grayson Dienerk kick), 11:46, 4th (28-16 W)

W — Grayson Diener, 29-yard FG, 4:34, 4th (31-16 W)

M — Drew Skaggs, 36-yard pass from Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis (run failed), 3:35, 4th (31-22 W)

W — Hunter Ward, 52-yard run (Grayson Diener kick), 2:05, 4th (38-22 W)

Team Statistics


First Downs 18 26

Scrimmage Plays 56 76

Rushes-Yards 38-134 47-263

Passing Yards 246 193

Total Yards 380 456

Cmp-Att-Int 15-18-1 21-29-0

Fumbles-Lost 3-1 0-0

Penalties-Yards 6-30 6-52

Punts-Average 4-33.5 2-23


Individual Leaders

RUSHING —Minford: Ty Wiget 13-64 TD, Matthew Risner 7-33, Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis 15-26, Bryson Ashley 3-11; Waverly: Payton Shoemaker 43-214 2TD, Hunter Ward 2-59 TD, Team 2-(-10)

PASSING — Minford: Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis 15-18-1-246 2TD; Waverly: Haydn’ Shanks 21-29-0-193 2TD

RECEIVING — Minford: Matthew Risner 5-123 TD, Drew Skaggs 3-58 TD, Ty Wiget 3-39, Bryson Ashley 4-26; Waverly: Will Futhey 7-81 2TD, Phoenix Wolf 5-38, Penn Morrison 4-51, Zeke Brown 3-12, Mark Stulley 2-11

FIRST DOWNS...................       18       25
  Rushing.....................       10       14
  Passing.....................        8       10
  Penalty.....................        0        1
NET YARDS RUSHING.............      132      256
  Rushing Attempts............       36       47
  Average Per Rush............      3.7      5.4
  Rushing Touchdowns..........        1        3
  Yards Gained Rushing........      152      270
  Yards Lost Rushing..........       20       14
NET YARDS PASSING.............      246      209
  Completions-Attempts-Int....  15-27-1  22-30-0
  Average Per Attempt.........      9.1      7.0
  Average Per Completion......     16.4      9.5
  Passing Touchdowns..........        2        2
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS...........      378      465
  Total offense plays.........       63       77
  Average Gain Per Play.......      6.0      6.0
Fumbles: Number-Lost..........      1-1      0-0
Penalties: Number-Yards.......     7-44     5-39
PUNTS-YARDS...................    4-134     2-45
  Average Yards Per Punt......     33.5     22.5
  Net Yards Per Punt..........     33.5     22.5
  Inside 20...................        1        0
  50+ Yards...................        0        0
  Touchbacks..................        0        0
  Fair catch..................        0        0
KICKOFFS-YARDS................    5-175    7-418
  Average Yards Per Kickoff...     35.0     59.7
  Net Yards Per Kickoff.......     32.6     36.9
  Touchbacks..................        0        5
Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD.    0-0-0    0-0-0
  Average Per Return..........      0.0      0.0
Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD   2-60-0   3-12-0
  Average Per Return..........     30.0      4.0
Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD..    0-0-0    1-0-0
Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD.    0-0-0    0-0-0
Miscellaneous Yards...........        0       33
Possession Time...............    24:39    21:56
  1st Quarter.................     7:46     4:14
  2nd Quarter.................     6:56     5:04
  3rd Quarter.................     6:12     5:48
  4th Quarter.................     3:45     6:50
Third-Down Conversions........  3 of 13  5 of 11
Fourth-Down Conversions.......   2 of 3   0 of 3
Red-Zone Scores-Chances.......      2-3      4-4
Sacks By: Number-Yards........      0-0      1-6
PAT Kicks.....................      1-2      5-5
Field Goals...................      1-2      1-1

PosTeamWLPFPANet Pts
3Oak Hill3284119-35
6Portsmouth West0552163-111
DateHomeAwayLeagueSeasonVenueArticle Headline


1Payton Shoemaker000004321121150
2Zeke Brown00000000280
5Hunter Ward000002590000
6Will Futhey000000007892
9Penn Morrisison000000004520
10Mark Stulley000000002110
13Haydn Shanks223002092000000
15Wade Futhey00000200000
23Phoenix Wolf000000006410
# Defense Sacks Tackles INT FGM FGA


??Tim Walk00000110000
2Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis15271245215280000
7Matthew Risner00000733051221
11Drew Skaggs000000003581
25Ty Wiget00000116013390
30Bryson Ashley0000031104260
# Defense Sacks Tackles INT FGM FGA


Date Time League Season
October 25, 2019 7:00 pm SEO 2019



Falcons, Tigers collide in key bout

Falcons, Tigers collide in key bout

Waverly vs Minford


Photos by Rene Nemeth

Indeed, it’s awfully late in the season for bounce backs.


However, there’s no better time than the here and now for one, and that’s exactly where the Minford Falcons and Waverly Tigers stand entering their colossal contest on Friday night.


While both are 6-2, their state playoff positions are quite precarious – with their Southern Ohio Conference Division II championship hopes all but evaporated.


In many ways, it is a playoff game for the Falcons and Tigers, as 7-3 seasons – by one or both – might or might not be enough to qualify for this year’s postseason field.


Therefore, playoff points, positioning and even the feeling of relief for a lock are on the line on Friday night – as Minford meets Waverly with an amped-up and standing-room-only atmosphere anticipated inside Waverly’s renovated Raidiger Field.


Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.


The game also marks Senior Night activities at Waverly High School, as eight Tiger seniors will be recognized beforehand.


Both squads are coming off close losses last week, as Waverly was in a running-game shootout at SOC II leader Wheelersburg – although the Tigers trailed from opening whistle to final kneel-down and suffered a 42-28 defeat.


However, while that wasn’t an upset, Minford’s matchup against Oak Hill was.


The Falcons led 7-0 and 14-7, but the 4-4 Oaks rallied for a pair of ties – before breaking the 14-14 deadlock with a last-second field goal by Brock Harden.


While Waverly remained fourth in Region 15 of Division IV of the official Ohio High School Athletic Association computer ratings, and still “control their own destiny” towards a state playoff berth, the Falcons fell from fourth to six – in the OHSAA’s Division V Region 19.


Even with a pair of victories in their final two tilts, including against visiting Valley in the regular-season finale, the Falcons are not assured of anything – although at 8-2 their chances of qualifying are quite better.


Hence, both need to bounce back this week, but Minford is more desperate than are the Tigers.


This is the same Falcons’ squad which started 6-0 – and that took Wheelesburg to overtime in the SOC II opener, before falling 21-20 after a two-point conversion attempt failed for the win.


The top eight teams in each region qualify for the playoffs – with the top four squads earning first-round home bouts.


Minford coach Jesse Ruby remarked briefly on the Oak Hill contest, then quickly moved to focusing on the task of defending the talented Tigers.

“I don’t want to take away anything from Oak Hill. They came out and played one of their best games of the year in terms of penalties, turnovers and limiting big plays. We did not play to the level that we normally do in terms of execution, and Oak Hill took advantage of the opportunities given to them,” he said. “Our team is motivated to get back to playing the way we were throughout the season before the Oak Hill game. Practice has been upbeat and very crisp this week.”


The Tigers, which practiced earlier in the sunny afternoons this week with soccer tournament matches at Raidiger Field, also expressed improving upon their defensive performance against Wheelersburg.


Payton Shoemaker
Current Team
While Waverly standout running back Payton Shoemaker showed off in the form of 21 carries for 202 yards and four touchdowns, Wheelersburg rushed for 457 on 64 attempts as a team – with standout senior Makya Matthews outdoing Shoemaker in the form of 29 carries for 267 yards and a hat trick of scores.


The Tigers’ tackling could be better, as Minford comes calling with its senior standout running back – Ty Wiget.

Ty Wiget
Current Team

“We obviously have to do a better job of tackling, making sure we don’t put ourselves in bad positions on the defensive side. Offensively, Wheelersburg did some good things, but defensively, we have to keep getting better these last couple of weeks,” said Waverly coach Chris Crabtree. “We’re focusing on Minford now, though, and working to execute the gameplan and preparing for them to come here and have a great game.”


It will be another great matchup of running backs operating out of spread-the-field formation offenses.


Wiget was limited against the Oaks to only 61 yards and 15 carries, but he did account for both of Minford’s touchdowns – including an 8-yard run.


For the season, Wiget has rushed for 1,197 yards and 17 touchdowns on 167 carries, while junior quarterback Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis has added five rushing TD on 94 carries and 634 yards.


Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis
Current Team
Vogelsong-Lewis has thrown for nine touchdowns on 58 completions and 104 attempts, and for 1,002 yards.


Crabtree commented on the similarities of the two offenses.


“Everything kind of runs through the Wiget kid for them, so they are similar to what we like to do. He has carried the ball quite a bit, the majority of the time actually,” said the coach. “It comes down to making sure we are in our gaps up front where we need to be. And we have to tackle the football. It’s no mystery what they are going to do. They are going to run inside zone, and they are going to throw it to (Matthew) Risner and (Drew) Skaggs on the outside and down the field. We have to be better defensively and execute and tackle better.”


Ruby said spreading the wealth will be of greater emphasis this week, with wide receivers Matthew Risner and Drew Skaggs seeing more footballs flying their way.


“Offensively, we need to focus on taking care of the little things and get back to controlling what we can control. We need to win the line of scrimmage and spread the ball around to make it difficult on their defense to just key on one or two players,” he said. “We have to be able to score touchdowns when we are given the opportunity.”


But, that means keeping Shoemaker off the field.

Of the Tigers’ 250 total carries this season, the five-foot nine-inch 155-pound senior Shoemaker now has 189 — while rushing for 1,668 yards and 23 touchdowns, which is good enough for almost nine yards per tote.

In addition, despite battling a knee injury all season which has hampered his mobility and even knocked him out of a game or two, junior quarterback Haydn’ Shanks has completed 83-of-135 passes for 1,282 yards and 13 touchdowns with only one interception.

Haydn Shanks
Current Team

“Waverly does such a good job with getting the ball to their playmakers, whether it be in the running game or the passing game. Haydn’ Shanks is a great quarterback who can make just about any throw on the field. Their receivers are big, fast and hard to cover. Shoemaker is very dangerous in the open field, but he also has the ability to run between the tackles. When you put all of that together, their offense makes you defend the entire width and depth of the football field,” said Ruby. “With their weapons, they can score from anywhere on the field in many different ways.”


Crabtree was asked if ball control could be one of those ways – with Wiget, like Shoemaker, capable of breaking off a big play on any given snap.


“We’re designed to go fast, and time of possession isn’t something we have had a lot of concern. We score really quick and then our defense is back on the field,” he said. “There are times where we can slow it down and take the ball out of their hands, but our philosophy tends to be give our offense as many opportunities as we can. We are going to play how we play and see how it turns out.”


And, how this week turns out will have a monumental impact on how two weeks from now sets up – assuming one or both squads sees the regional quarterfinal round.


For the Tigers, it is simple.


Win both, and Waverly will host a Region 15 quarterfinal.

“We have a lot to take care of this week and next week. But if we do that, then postseason play sets up pretty well. There would be a really good chance we would have a home playoff game in a better region for us. Our next two weeks are very important for us to go out and play well,” said Crabtree. “It would be nice if our eight seniors get to play a playoff game here and be able to play as many as we can.”


The same goes for the Falcons, which can climb back into the top four of Region 19 with a win.


But Ruby said playoff possibilities take care of themselves – as long as they play against the Tigers like they did against Wheelersburg and unlike Oak Hill.


Truth be told, it’s the perfect time for a Falcon bounce back.


“We need to treat this game in the same way we did for the Wheelersburg game. Waverly’s team is similar to Wheelersburg, and they will be just as challenging when it comes to scoring on them and defending them,” said Ruby. “It is a game in which we need to play to the best of our ability.”


1Payton Shoemaker2020304234432
2Hunter Ward2020212222
3Dawson Shoemaker202211550
4Jackson Poe20218247
5Trey Brushart2023270


1Ty Wiget2020208142918
2Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis1327699
3Matthew Risner181232
4Andy Crank3480
5Bryson Ashley20207340
PosTeamWLPFPANet Pts








Pirates pull one off…again



‘Burg clips Falcons 21-20 in OT epic

By Paul Boggs

Photo by Ruth Boll

Video by Litter Media


MINFORD — It’s no secret that these are not exactly your older brother’s Wheelersburg Pirates.


They do make their share of mistakes.


Their current roster doesn’t have the same star power of the past few successful seasons.

And, believe it or not, they had lost three football games entering Friday night’s Southern Ohio Conference Division II opener at the undefeated Minford Falcons.


But, one thing is for certain – and that’s the king is indeed not dead.


That’s because the visiting Pirates, despite being plagued by more mistakes and even forced to improvise on the fly, somehow – and someway – found a way to extend their SOC II winning streak.


Wheelersburg never trailed, got massive plays from its playmakers, and made the memorable stop on Minford’s two-point conversion try to prevail 21-20 in overtime in front of an electric and standing-room-only crowd at Minford High School.


With the victory, the Pirates – with losses to teams with a combined record now of 16-2 – pulled even to 3-3.


In easily arguably their most difficult SOC II test of the past six seasons, the Pirates pushed their division win streak to 22 games – dating back to a loss against Valley in 2013.


It absolutely wasn’t easy, but then again, these Pirates have battled injury and adversity unlike any Wheelersburg squad in at least the last half-decade.


The same was true at Minford – as the Pirates threw a pair of interceptions and opted to change quarterbacks, punted five times following three-and-out possessions, committed 10 penalties for 105 yards including three personal fouls, and even lost an onside kick following the Falcons’ first touchdown midway through the third quarter.


However, they made the big plays when they needed them the most – defensively, offensively, and on special teams.


“Every year is different, but this is a huge win for us because it’s an SOC II game. When you look at the adversity we have faced with the schedule we have played, and our guys have recognized the tall task that’s been ahead of them throughout those five weeks, I can’t say enough about our kids and the effort they put forth, especially our seniors,” said an elated Wheelersburg coach Rob Woodward. “We came in here tonight against a great team in Minford, and we faced a lot of adversity in this game. But again, all of our seniors…the battles that they have had, what a way for them to come out on top in this SOC II game.”


The Falcons, which were 5-0, found themselves on the wrong side of the scoreboard for the first time all year.


However, it remains 2009 when Minford last defeated Wheelersburg – by a 16-15 final score.


It was almost another one-point Falcon triumph on Friday, as Minford’s Matthew Risner made a simply acrobatic over-the-shoulder catch in the back of the end zone in overtime to make it 21-20.


Facing 2nd-down-and-11 from the 21-yard line, Minford quarterback Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis landed the ball where only Risner could catch it – in bounds and near the back line, but over the top of Wheelersburg’s Makya Matthews.


It was then decision time for fourth-year Minford head coach Jesse Ruby – to either kick the extra point and force a second overtime tied at 21-21, or to go for the two-point conversion and the victory.

Ruby rolled the dice and elected to go for two, but the Pirates stacked the box and brought the house against the Minford run formation.


Ty Wiget –in attempting to squeeze inside through the line – was stuffed at the goal line as a result, and the Pirates poured onto the field in a wild celebration.


Ruby, when asked about the decision to play for the win and the two points, simply said “there was no doubt”.


“I had full faith and confidence in our kids. We were playing well and moving the ball well and decided to go for the win. Our kids’ attitude and effort were great the whole game. Unfortunately, we came up just one play short,” he said. “It was so tight in there and kind of hard to see, but Wheelersburg just made a good play. It was the last of several that they made.”


And, making plays – particularly Matthews – was something the Pirates did all night.


Truth be told, none were bigger than his dead-sprint chase-down defensive effort on the game’s fourth play  – when Wiget broke free for a 52-yard run and was well on his way to the end zone.


But Matthews didn’t give up on the run, caught Wiget from behind at the 5, tomahawk-chopped the ball with his right arm out of Wiget’s hands – and the Pirates pounced on the pigskin for a stunning turn-of-events touchback.


As that play faded in the memory banks as the game wore on and advanced into overtime, it was highly discussed afterward as the night’s biggest play.


“That was just a great job by Matthews to track Ty down and strip the football,” said Ruby. “It was just an unfortunate play for us right there.”


Indeed it was, because had Wiget scored, then the Falcons would be in front four plays in – and maybe overtime is never reached.


“Makya Matthews is just a warrior. Makya is the most competitive player that I believe I have ever coached. He does everything he can on a given play to make sure that if he can make the play, he is going to make it,” said Woodward. “He was just outstanding in this game and it all started on that play.”


It then extended to the Pirates’ first touchdown with just a minute and 52 seconds before halftime.

Following a mistake-prone first half by both clubs – which featured a touchdown apiece negated due to holding penalties, 13 combined flags for 135 yards and a turnover apiece – the Pirates made a major stop of a Minford drive on 4th-down-and-inches at the Wheelersburg 24 with 2:06 remaining.


On the Pirates’ first play following the turnover on downs, Evan Horsley – who replaced an ineffective Aaron Masters at quarterback – hooked up with Matthews for a 76-yard touchdown strike that made it 7-0 with Braxton Sammons’ extra-point kick.

Matthews made the high grab of Horsley’s pass at the Wheelersburg 40, broke a tackle, then outraced Falcon defenders all the way to the end zone.


“We dialed up a big play there, Evan (Horsley) throws a floater up there, but Makya just goes up and snatches it out of the air and is able to take it all the way for a touchdown,” said Woodward.


Evan Horsley
Current Team
Horsley completed three of his seven passes for 82 yards, as Matthews made two receptions for 73.


On the ground, Matthews amassed 133 yards on 24 carries, while Horsley had 92 yards on 14 totes.

Makya Matthews
Current Team

“Evan (Horsley) put this team on his back tonight. He carried the ball a number of times and grinded out those tough yards,” said Woodward. “Our offensive line was opening up holes continuously. It’s a game of big plays and battles in the trenches.”


And, also, a game of mistakes.


Besides Matthews turning Wiget’s touchdown into a touchback, the Falcons had two holding penalties for 17 yards apiece – the first of which wiped out a 67-yard scoring strike to Risner while the second stalled a Minford march to near midfield with time running out in the first half.


“Mistakes just kill you in close tight ballgames like this,” said Ruby. “Unfortunately, we had some more tonight.”


But one pass completion from Vogelsong-Lewis to Risner did not produce any penalty flags – and instead resulted in a 59-yard TD on a screen pass that began with a catch in the flat.


That occurred with 6:47 remaining in the third quarter, but Minford missed the extra-point kick – and thus trailed 7-6.


“We just kept stressing that we were still in the ballgame and had plenty of time left. We have plenty of weapons and we can score really fast. We showed that with Risner’s long touchdown reception,” said Ruby. “We just had to keep battling back.”


The Falcons then recovered the aforementioned onside kick at midfield, but that – and two other possessions – resulted in three three-and-outs, sandwiched around a Horsley interception by Minford’s Levi Warren which ended a 10-play Pirate drive and reached the red zone.


However, the next Pirate possession produced points – an eight-play, 67-yard drive that spanned 3:09 and picked up four first downs.


Matthews, whose 24-yard gainer moved Wheelersburg from the Falcon 46 to the 22, capped off the drive with a seven-yard inside run with eight-and-a-half minutes to go.


Sammons’ second successful extra-point kick made it 14-6, but Minford answered with a colossal 13-play, 61-yard, five-and-a-half minute march – ending with Wiget going in from eight yards away at the 2:51 point.


But with the Falcons trailing 14-12, they still needed the two-point conversion for the tie – and amazingly and inexplicably somehow converted it.


With a high snap in the shotgun to Vogelsong-Lewis, he deftly and quickly handed off to Wiget, who shocked the stadium by faking everyone out and executing an option pitch back to Vogelsong-Lewis, who ran it in.


Whatever it was worked, and tied the tilt at 14-14.


Wheelersburg was getting more line surge and better rushes in the second half, but a 10-play series between the 35s in the final 2:51 resulted in a turnover on downs.


In the overtime, though, the Pirates punched it in on four plays – with Matthews carrying for six yards to the 14, followed by 13 more yards to the one.

Two plays later, Horlsey hit paydirt from a yard out off tackle – and Sammons’ PAT kick made it 21-14.


Of the Pirates’ 191 second-half and overtime rushing yards, Matthews mustered 107 on 18 carries, while Horsley had 71 on 11.


“Wheelersburg was just doing a good job up front of getting movement and producing some running lanes,” said Ruby. “I thought our kids read their keys pretty well, and were flying around to the football and making them earn it, because we kept them from getting any more big plays.”


At least on offense – as the Pirates made the stop on Wiget’s two-point conversion run following Risner’s incredible TD catch in overtime.


Minford’s playmakers made a difference as well, with Wiget actually amounting a game-high 143 rushing yards on 25 carries, as Vogelsong-Lewis completed eight of his 12 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns to Risner.


Risner, who also intercepted Masters on the Pirates’ first possession, recorded four receptions for 105 yards.


Still, Woodward thought Wheelersburg’s defense “played lights out”.


Head Coach Rob Woodard

Current Team
“It’s tough to cover everything Minford throws at you,” he said. “With (Matthew) Risner out there and the speed that he has, and with Wiget and Vogelsong-Lewis with the speed that they have, you have to account for both sides of the field and that was a challenge to our coaches and players.”




The Falcons’ challenge now is to recover for the remainder of their difficult SOC II slate – and get back to their winning ways which originally vaulted them to the top spot of the OHSAA Division V Region 19 computer ratings.


The Pirates and Falcons are both in Region 19 – and a potential playoff rematch is indeed a distinct possibility.


“It’s all about attitude and effort, and we just have to treat every opponent with the same respect we gave Wheelersburg. And we may very well see Wheelersburg again,” said Ruby. “We have to focus on ourselves every week, and improve upon limiting mistakes, penalties and turnovers. We have to prepare ourselves for the rest of the SOC II schedule.”


That rest of the schedule starts next week at Portsmouth West, while Wheelersburg – for the fourth consecutive week – hits the road when it takes on division newcomer Oak Hill.

Furthermore, the Pirates play at Oak Hill for the second season in a row – although that SOC II winning streak remains intact, as the king is indeed not dead.


“A huge part of high school football is mentally having your kids ready. The SOC II is strong, and we’re getting everybody’s best shot. And our number-one goal is winning the SOC II,” said Woodward. “That’s a great football team that we just beat tonight, and our kids should be extremely proud. We’re a good football team too, we just have continue to move forward and get better.”


*     *     *

Wheelersburg 21, Minford 20, OT 

Wheelersburg 0 7 0 7 7 – 21

Minford 0 0 6 8 6 – 20

W — Makya Matthews, 76-yard pass from Evan Horsley (Braxton Sammons kick), 1:52, 2nd (7-0 W)

M — Matthew Risner, 59-yard pass from Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis (kick failed), 6:47, 3rd (7-6 W)

W — Makya Matthews, 7-yard run (Braxton Sammons kick), 8:34, 4th (14-6 W)

M —  Ty Wiget, 8-yard run (Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis run), 2:51, 4th (14-14 tie)

W — Evan Horsley, 1-yard run (Braxton Sammons kick), OT (21-14 W)

M — Matthew Risner, 21-yard pass from Elijah-Vogelsong Lewis (run failed), OT (21-20 W)

Team Statistics


First downs 15 12

Plays from scrimmage 58 52

Rushes-yards 48-263 40-149

Passing yards 88 143

Total yards 351 292

Cmp-Att-Int. 4-10-2 8-12-0

Fumbles-lost 2-0 1-1

Penalties-yards 10-105 8-75

Punts-average 5-31.6 6-37.3


Individual Leaders

RUSHINGWheelersburg: Makya Matthews 24-133 TD, Evan Horsley 14-92 TD, Aaron Masters 4-20, Carson Williams 3-14, Hunter Ruby 2-2, Jay Holsinger 1-2 ; Minford: Ty Wiget 25-143 TD, Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis 14-8, Team 1-(-2)

PASSINGWheelersburg: Evan Horsley 3-7-1-82 TD, Aaron Masters 1-3-1-6; Minford: Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis 8-12-0-143 2TD

RECEIVING Wheelersburg: Makya Matthews 2-73 TD, Hunter Ruby 2-15; Minford: Matthew Risner 4-105 2TD, Drew Skaggs 3-28, Ty Wiget 1-10





Evan Horsley37182114921000
Hunter Ruby000002202150
Carson Williams000003140000
14Aaron Masters131604200000
29Makya Matthews000002413312731
55Jay Holsinger00000120000
# Defense Sacks Tackles INT FGM FGA


2Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis9130138214110000
7Matthew Risner0000000041032
11Drew Skaggs000000003290
25Ty Wiget00000251471260
# Defense Sacks Tackles INT FGM FGA


Date Time League Season
October 4, 2019 7:00 pm SEO 2019



Falcons face ‘Burg in huge SOC II opener


Photo’s by Ruth Boll

Wheelersburg vs Minford


Simply put, if you can’t remember the last time the Wheelersburg Pirates lost a Southern Ohio Conference Division II football tilt, then you likely aren’t alone.


That said, you likely won’t remember the last time the Minford Falcons defeated the Pirates.


However, with Wheelersburg off to its worst five-game start in recent memory, the undefeated Falcons have an opportunity to end those pair of dubious streaks on Friday night – as 5-0 Minford hosts the 2-3 Pirates in an all-important and highly-anticipated SOC II opener.

In fact, it can be argued it’s the most important matchup in all of Southeastern Ohio this week.


Kickoff at Minford High School is set for 7 p.m.


In answer to the original two questions, the Pirates last lost an SOC II affair in 2013 – a division winning streak that stretches a massive and impressive 21 games.


In addition, a full decade (2009) has passed since Minford last defeated Wheelersburg.


But nobody can likely remember – without looking it up online – when the tradition-rich Pirates last started 2-3, and perhaps showing signs of vulnerability despite their three losses to teams with a combined mark of 13-2.


Head Coach Rob Woodard

Current Team
“We’ve scheduled those teams that are extremely challenging to raise our level of play and get us ready to attack the SOC. What we haven’t done well in the three losses is execution,” said Wheelersburg coach Rob Woodward. “We haven’t been lined up right in situations on defense, we haven’t been disciplined in our play, taking poor angles and thus bad tackling. We need to do a better job of controlling the line of scrimmage. Our offensive gameplan needs to take pressure off our defense. All three games we lost we basically played on our side of the 50. Our offense can be our best defense, but we have to execute better in all three phases. We just didn’t play the way we needed to play against good opponents like that. We just have to move forward and make adjustments.”


Indeed, don’t tell fourth-year Minford coach Jesse Ruby about the Pirates being “down” this season.


In fact, he believes the highly-touted Pirates are the best team his Falcons have faced to date – and are indeed the SOC II champions until they are defeated.


Wheelersburg has lost to three teams by at least 20 points, but that trio of 4-1 Ironton (30-6), 4-1 Columbus Hartley (44-6) and undefeated Jackson (35-15) just happens to be three of the best programs in the south central quadrant of the state.


Head Coach Jesse Ruby

Current Team
“Wheelersburg has been the best team in the conference for years. They have been undefeated in the conference for five seasons in a row. In my opinion, they are still the best team in the conference until someone proves otherwise, despite their three loses this season. The teams they have lost to this year have a combined record of 13-2,” said Ruby. “Wheelersburg, even though they are 2-3, is a very good football team. They will be the best team we have faced by far.”


Although, despite their quality wins over Ashland (34-33 in overtime) and Greenup County (38-7), the Pirates haven’t been completely healthy this season, which impacted them in their losses against Ironton and Hartley.


Then last week, while perhaps the healthiest Wheelersburg has been all season, the Pirates allowed almost 300 rushing yards and committed three critical turnovers in their 35-15 loss at Jackson.


That was actually only

the Ironmen’s second victory against the Pirates since that series restarted in 2012 – with the other coming five years ago.


The Pirates got burned on a 54-yard touchdown run by Jackson freshman Jacob Winters on the opening play of the second half, then were the victims of a pair of Evan Spires fourth-quarter “pick-sixes”.


In all, Jackson scored 21 of its 35 points off Wheelersburg turnovers.


“We had poor execution in all three phases last week. We were trying to change up a few things, but we got down 14 points in the first quarter. We tried to rally and make some adjustments, but Jackson did a great job of adjusting on their part and having different things ready for us,” said Woodward. “Moving forward, we have to make adjustments in the areas we were exposed in and clean things up.”


For one, Ruby isn’t counting on the Pirates to make the same self-inflicted mistakes as they did a week ago.


Makya Matthews
Current Team
Instead, he is depending on his Falcons to play solid defense, keeping Wheelersburg’s many offensive play-makers – primarily Makya Matthews – in check.


“In the last game, Jackson was able to capitalize on a few mistakes that Wheelersburg made. But defending Wheelersburg is extremely challenging due to the number of weapons they have on offense,” said Ruby. “They run a lot of different formations, they can run the football with many different players and they have many skilled receivers. Their quarterback is well-coached in where to put the football. They do a lot of things offensively to put the opposing defense in a bind.”

Woodward said Minford does the same thing – with the likes of its fast-paced high-powered spread offense engineered by left-handed quarterback Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis.


Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis
Current Team
Vogelsong-Lewis has completed 35-of-60 passes for 648 yards and six touchdowns, while rushing for 506 yards and four TD on 60 attempts.




Ty Wiget
Current Team
Meanwhile, senior running back Ty Wiget has simply ran wild this season – to the tune of 880 yards and a dozen scores on 107 carries.



Drew Skaggs
Current Team
The Falcons’ top receiver is Drew Skaggs with 250 yards on 11 receptions.


“Minford is a mirror of what we try to do,” said Woodward. “Their quarterback and running back are really good and they have the ability to run out of any formation. They can go either way with running or passing, and those guys do a lot of damage with their feet. We have prepared this week in practice for a system that looks a lot like ourselves.”


But what Minford doesn’t need nor want to help Wheelersburg out is turn the football over – or make other mistakes.


The Falcons, despite winning 28-21 at East Clinton last week, were guilty of five turnovers – three interceptions and two lost fumbles.


Ruby said his squad started the year by limiting its miscues, but has committed eight turnovers in the past two weeks, while also being flagged for too many penalties and missing too many tackles.


“We started the year off really well by playing team football and limiting our own mistakes. In the first three games, we played sound defense, committed very few penalties, punted once per game, and only turned the ball over once. The attention to the little things allowed us to play at a high level in those first three weeks. The past two weeks have been a different story as we have made too many mistakes – too many penalties, too many missed tackles and too many turnovers,” said the coach. “The good thing is our players were able to overcome adversity and still find a way to win in the past two games.”


But against Wheelersburg, those same mistakes will result in a loss.


“Taking care of the football is extremely important. Any time you have more turnovers than your opponent, you are at a disadvantage. We need to limit our own mistakes – missed assignments, penalties and turnovers to be successful in this game. If we fail to do that, we will be in for a long night. We have to be able to maintain our blocks, take care of the football, and play as mistake-free as possible to give us the best chance to win,” said Ruby. “That goal is something we preach each and every week.”


What Ruby also preaches each and every week is that the next opponent on the Falcons’ schedule is Minford’s most important of the season.


However, it’s difficult to ignore what’s at stake for both teams – as Friday night marks a playoff-points bonanza for the winner.


Both teams are members of Division V, Region 19, as the Falcons (9.65) are top-ranked and the Pirates are seventh (6.05) in the second release of the official Ohio High School Athletic Association football computer ratings released on Tuesday.


The top eight teams in each region qualify for the playoffs – with the top four squads earning first-round home bouts.


Minford is also the seventh-ranked club in the third release of the Associated Press Ohio high school football poll for Division V.


More times than not, the top spot in the Region 19 computer ratings and a top-10 ranking the Division V AP poll belong to Wheelersburg – but not this season, so far.


Although, it can all change on Friday for the Pirates, but then again, the Falcons can snap a pair of infamous streaks involving Wheelersburg.


“One thing that we talk about each and every week is that we treat each week as if it is the most important game of the year. Every game has playoff points. Aside from the distractions from the outside, we try to treat every opponent as they are the best team we have faced to this point in the year. This week is no different from the opponents we faced weeks one thru five,” said Ruby. “We have to focus on ourselves and work to improve how we have played in our most recent games. That goal is our focus each and every week.”


The Pirates’ first focus, Woodward said, regardless of record, is defending their SOC II championship.

Which is something they’ve done an outstanding job of – given it has been six seasons since they last lost a league game.


“We know the SOC teams especially raise their level of play against us and circle us on their calendar. We just approach it as the next opponent, knowing and expecting to get their best shot. We don’t worry about our past or our future, we only worry about that week’s game,” said Woodward. “Our goal is to win the SOC, we prepare our guys for this, and so far in practice, this has been one of the best weeks of preparation and being healthy that we’ve had this year. That’s good to see.”


Headline: Big plays, speed spark Falcons' win over Redmen

Greenup County KY


East Clinton

Blue Devils renew rivalry with Big Blacks; Logan @ Jackson, Minford @ Greenup County


“The Battle of The Bridge” is indeed back, and this time, it’s extremely interesting.

Gallia Academy vs Point Pleasant WV

After a two-year hiatus, the annual Ohio River rivalry between the Gallia Academy Blue Devils and the Point Pleasant Big Blacks resumes on Friday night – and both teams are looking to remain undefeated.

But, the Blue Devils are already 2-0, while the visiting Big Blacks – believe it or not – have yet to play a game this season.

In addition, it’s a new-look Point Pleasant squad up against an experienced Gallia Academy club  – coming off its stellar 9-2 campaign and already with two shutouts to start this year.

Kickoff is set for Friday night at historic Memorial Field in Gallipolis at 7 p.m.

The Blue Devils blanked Meigs (24-0) and River Valley (38-0) in their first two tilts, as Gallia Academy – the defending Ohio Valley Conference champion – opens OVC play next week.

But the Big Blacks of Class AA in West Virginia are a step – or two – up in competition for these up-and-coming Blue Devils, as Point Pleasant has recently dominated the long-running series that stopped after 2016.

That year, as the current Gallia Academy seniors were just freshmen, the program went 1-9 – and lost at powerful Point Pleasant 61-12.

Those Big Blacks were spearheaded by then-sophomore quarterback Cason Payne, who has now graduated while setting several school records – and earning all-state honors in West Virginia four times.

Payne rushed and passed for 1,000 yards two times each in those four years, as the Big Blacks qualified for the Class AA playoffs in each.

Point Pleasant also graduated Payne’s primary and record-setting wide receiver, Josh Wamsley, while three of his starting offensive linemen are gone as well.

The Big Blacks do return senior offensive linemen Jacob Muncy and Nate Barth, along with 1,000-yard rusher from a year ago and fellow senior Brady Adkins.

Hunter Bush – a junior – takes over under center for Payne, and despite his lack of significant varsity experience is believed to have a strong throwing arm.

The Big Blacks also return nine starters on defense, as Gallia Academy’s athleticism and speed will need to make plays against Point Pleasant’s experience.

But the Blue Devils do have plenty of playmakers, primarily junior James Armstrong and sophomore Donevyn Woodson.

Donevyn Woodson
Current Team
Gallia Academy


James Armstrong
Current Team
Gallia Academy
  Against River Valley, Armstrong went off for 174 rushing yards on 19 carries with two touchdowns.

That win marked the ninth consecutive in the regular season for the Blue and White, dating back to week three of last season – a narrow 15-9 loss at Jackson.

The Ironmen occupied this week-three post the past two years, which Point Pleasant held before and now does again.

But by this time usually, the Big Blacks – an independent program in the Mountain State – will have had two games under their belts.

Not this season, though, as Point Pleasant is playing only a nine-game regular-season slate – as the Big Blacks couldn’t find a week-one opener at the end of August.

With West Virgina’s 11-week regular season, they had their scheduled bye for the year last week.

So the Blue Devils do have an advantage in having played twice, as they look to close the gap with the Big Blacks and move to 3-0, while securing a victory for VERY valuable Level 2 playoff points down the road.

Point Pleasant is considered the equivalent of an OHSAA Division II team, and is perceived to be set for another strong season – in spite of only nine scheduled games and replacing Payne.

The Big Blacks own the all-time series by a count of 46-37-5.


Logan at Jackson

Jackson vs Logan

After playing – and defeating – former Southeastern Ohio Athletic League charter rival Gallia Academy in this week-three spot the last two years, the Jackson Ironmen host their future season-opening opposition on Friday night.

And, it’s a blast from the past, as that would be another SEOAL charter member – the Logan Chieftains.

Only this time, with the SEOAL now defunct, Logan invades Alumni Stadium in Jackson as a non-league opponent – the first time that has happened since 1924 in the now 96th all-time meeting between the two.

Kickoff in the Apple City is set for 7 p.m.

Logan leads the all-time series 46-45-4, having finished with 26 SEOAL championships to Jackson’s 25.

The two clubs did not meet the last two years, as from 1935 through 2016 they had played continuous with the exception of three times – in 1978 (Logan teachers’ strike) and in 2006 and 2007 (SEOAL split into two divisions).

The all-time series scoring is also close, with Logan leading the Ironmen 1,533-1,452.

However, points in the past few campaigns – including this one – have become a premium for the Chieftains, scoring just seven in each of their losses to Tri-Valley (35-7) and Teays Valley (10-7).

Last week’s loss – which was Logan’s ninth in a row – was especially heartbreaking, as the visiting Vikings won on the strength of only a 24-yard second-quarter field goal and an 88-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half.

The Chieftains trailed 10-7 and attempted a late game-tying field goal, but Israel Bookman’s 36-yard attempt doinked off the crossbar.

Caden McCarty
Current Team
Caden McCarty has scored both of the Chiefs’ touchdowns, rushing for 181 yards on 38 carries, while quarterback Braeden Spatar has rushed for 138 yards on 41 attempts – while completing 11-of-16 passes for 78 yards.

The Ironmen, meanwhile, moved to 2-0 – after holding off Athens 31-26 in that important non-league encounter.

Jackson jumped out to a 19-0 halftime advantage, and actually held a 25-6 lead before the Bulldogs charged back – making it a one-score game with 38 seconds remaining.

The Ironmen offense improved from its sluggish season opener, as Jackson kept the ball on the ground and hammered at Athens with 28 of its 31 first-half plays coming via the run.

For the game, Jayden Spires racked up 123 yards on 24 carries, while Brice Graham gained 85 yards and a hat trick of touchdowns on 21 totes.

The Ironmen defense – especially against the run – was stout in the first half, as the offensively-challenged Chieftains are facing one of the top defensive units in all of Southeastern Ohio.

But look for Logan to bring a physicality that the Ironmen may not have seen against Athens or even Wellston, and if any coach knows Jackson’s Andy Hall well, it’s first-year Logan mentor Mike Eddy.

Eddy, the former four-year Gallia Academy coach, faced off against Hall for four years there – and defeated Jackson in the 2012 regular-season finale.


Minford at Greenup County (Ky.)

Greenup County KY vs Minford

The Minford Falcons, for the second week to open this season, put up some  impressive offensive numbers – en route to a 2-0 start.

They aim to compile even more eye-popping statistics this week, but more importantly, earn another win.

That’s because the Falcons face their toughest test to date on Friday night, crossing the river into Greenup County to take on the 2-1 Musketeers.

And, of course, Greenup County standout senior signal-caller Eli Sammons.

A week after rolling Rock Hill 43-12 and amassing 311 total yards, the speed-driven Falcons finished with a massive 544 yards and 24 first downs against Chesapeake, capturing a 54-21 triumph.

Ty Wiget
Current Team
Ty Wiget, Minford’s standout senior running back, went off for a career-best 301 yards and four scores on only 10 carries – improving upon his 121-yard, two-TD, 14-carry performance against Rock Hill.

Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis
Current Team
Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis – the left-handed quarterback – had those exact same rushing stats (14-121) against the Panthers, along with two passing touchdowns on 5-of-6 attempts for 94 yards.

Speaking of quarterbacks, the Minford defense faces the tall, talented and highly-touted Sammons this week.

Sammons stands six-foot, six-inches tall and weighs 200 pounds, and already is a signee with Marshall University.

The Musketeers fell to Raceland 17-14 in their season opener, as the Rams sealed the win with a late Sammons interception.

But Sammons and Greenup gained two wins since, prevailing in a 40-36 shootout at Fleming County (Aug. 30), before rolling Montgomery County with a 54-12 romp.

Against Montgomery, Sammons threw for three touchdowns and rushed for another.

He scored on quarterback sneaks for the Musketeers’ two trips against Raceland, then accounted for five TD against Fleming – three on the ground and two via the air.

The dual-threat Sammons is once again a stark contrast in offensive philosophies, as Minford has faced run-oriented OVC clubs Rock Hill and Chesapeake.

Greenup is equivalent to an OHSAA Division III program, which potentially means valuable playoff points for the Division V Falcons – assuming they fly the ‘W’.






Games of the Week: Ironmen, Bulldogs renew old rivalry, Minford @ Chesapeake, Portsmouth @ West


Photo’s by Kent Sanborn, Tim Gearhart

Truth be told, these two should always be on each other’s schedules.

Two long-time, and old-guard, Southeastern Ohio Athletic League rivals renew their series starting on Friday night – as the Jackson Ironmen and Athens Bulldogs square off once again on the gridiron.

And, as usual with these two tradition-rich programs, there is plenty of interest and intrigue.

In a key early-season and now non-league encounter, Jackson travels to Athens with the potential of plenty of playoff points at stake.

The two have not played since a home-and-home series in 2012 and 2013, in which the Bulldogs – with current LSU quarterback and 2014 Ohio Mr. Football Joe Burrow leading them – won 21-14 (2012) and 49-0 (2013).

The two schools were charter members of the SEOAL which formed in 1925, but Athens left the league for the Tri-Valley Conference after the 2007 season – and the question has lingered since as to why they don’t play as non-conference opponents every year.

They actually did in the 2011 Division III playoffs, as both clubs entered after perfect regular seasons, with the Ironmen capturing a 27-7 victory.

But enough with past history, the focus for Friday night is the here and now inside Rutter Field in The Plains.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

The new-look Bulldogs, with new QB Joey Moore, bolted out to a 27-14 second-quarter advantage against the host Waverly Tigers.

But the Tigers shut out Athens in the second half, scoring the final 17 points to prevail 30-27 in both squads’ season openers.

Moore did his part, completing 24 passes on 38 attempts for 278 yards and a hat trick of touchdowns with one interception.

He added 60 rushing yards on 26 carries.

But the Bulldog defense didn’t stop the Tigers, specifically Waverly standout running back Payton Shoemaker.

Shoemaker shredded Athens’ run defense for 201 yards and four scores on 25 carries, scoring from 25, 22 and 18 yards away.

Athens also allowed 160 yards through the air on 26 attempts and 15 completions by Tiger quarterback Hayden Shanks.

On Friday, that high-powered Athens offense – engineered by Moore and coordinated by first-year head coach Nathan White – faces an extremely stingy Jackson defense, anchored by returning senior Brice Parks.

Parks, the reigning Southeast District Defensive Player of the Year, returns to the Ironmen after serving a one-game suspension in the season opener.

But the Ironmen didn’t miss Parks against archrival Wellston, as Jackson – in the final meeting between the long-running Jackson County rivals – stymied the Golden Rockets to only 48 total yards and did not allow an offensive touchdown.

The Red and White won 23-6, spearheaded by three first-half interceptions of Wellston quarterback R.J. Kemp.

The Ironmen ended the series scoring when they sacked Kemp in the end zone for a fourth-quarter safety.

But Jackson’s offense struggled somewhat – outside of scoring on two long first-half runs.

Jayden Spires (156 yards on 18 carries) scampered for 52 yards for the first, followed by Brice Graham (98 yards on 15 carries) galloping 51 yards for the other.

Jackson coach Andy Hall hailed his Ironmen’s defensive play, but indeed acknowledged inconsistency on offense, which must be improved in order to succeed against Athens.

Many observers are predicting a close and competitive contest, with a final score ranging in the low 20s or even high teens.

Both clubs are quite capable of big plays, but the marquee matchup will definitely be the Bulldogs’ offense against the Ironmen’s defense.


Minford at Chesapeake

Chesapeake vs Minford

Two teams coming off injury-riddled 2018 campaigns opened on the right foot this season, setting up a key early-season affair on Friday night.

Minford travels to Chesapeake in a battle of week-one winners, as kickoff at Phil Davis Stadium in Chesapeake is set for 7 p.m.

This is the first meeting between the two since 2001, as both teams impressed in their season and home openers last week.

The Panthers, in head coach Todd Knipp’s debut, defeated the Oak Hill Oaks 35-13 in the final meeting of that series.

Chesapeake rolled up a massive 365 yards on 51 rushes, including 127 on only eight carries by two-year starting quarterback Donald Richendollar.

Richendollar attempted just two passes, but his lone completion was a 25-yard touchdown to Kamren Harless, which gave the Panthers the lead.

Harless added 73 yards and three TD on 21 carries.

Minford, meanwhile, rolled Rock Hill – where Knipp was the head coach for 13 years before spending the past two as an assistant at Chesapeake.

The Falcons took advantage of big plays en route to the 43-12 rout, starting with senior Ty Wiget returning the opening kickoff 81 yards for a touchdown.

Wiget, who closed the scoring with a 68-yard TD burst, rushed for 121 yards on 14 carries – and junior quarterback Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis threw for 163 yards and two touchdowns on 10-of-17.

Minford answered both of the Redmen’s touchdowns with scores of its own, and held strong for the most part against Rock Hill’s run-oriented two-tight end T-formation offense.

This week, the Panthers present an entirely different offense against the Falcons, while Chesapeake will try to slow down the Falcons’ spread attack and speed.


Portsmouth at Portsmouth West

Portsmouth West vs Portsmouth

The two proud Portsmouth-area programs enter Friday night off opening-week wins, only adding excitement to the annual Scioto County rivalry.

This year’s installment between Portsmouth and Portsmouth West will take place in West Portsmouth, with kickoff set for 7 p.m.

The two teams have played continuous since 2001, with the Trojans holding a slim 10-9 advantage, while West won the 2002 playoff matchup – en route to advancing to the Division IV state championship game that year.

This year, the Senators are perceived to be in the midst of rebuilding, having graduated the likes of all-district first-team honorees Trevor Staggs (defensive lineman), Josh Berry (offensive all-purpose) and Garrett Hurd (running back).

West won its opener in easy fashion at Columbus KIPP Academy by 40 points (48-8), while the Trojans topped visiting Valley 32-27 in a Thursday night nail-biter.

As expected, Valley keyed on Portsmouth standout senior tailback Talyn Parker, limiting him to just 21 rushing yards on 17 carries.

However, Parker scored all five of the Trojans’ touchdowns for 30 points, including the game-winner with 38-and-a-half seconds remaining on a 10-yard pass, in which he broke an open-field tackle at the Valley 5-yard-line.

Parker also recovered a fumble in the end zone for a Portsmouth score.

Look for the young Senators to also key on Parker, and try to follow the Indians’ blueprint of surrounding and swarming him followed by gang-tackling.

An experienced West squad shut out the Trojans and Parker last season, 13-0.

But this year’s Trojans sport 14 seniors, several of which will play major roles in determining Portsmouth’s success.

However, its offensive line is young and inexperienced, and needs to improve based upon its performance against Valley.

It will face another tough test from the determined Senators, which like Valley are members of the Southern Ohio Conference Division II.






Big plays, speed spark Falcons’ win over Redmen


Rock Hill0012012Loss


Photo’s by Kent Sanborn


MINFORD – Ty Wiget’s two lengthy touchdown dashes, which book-ended Saturday evening’s season opener, summed everything up.

Ty Wiget
Current Team

The injury-riddled Rock Hill Redmen simply weren’t going to catch the Minford Falcons.

Minford made big plays from the opening kickoff to the closing whistle, as the Falcons soared past the larger Redmen 43-12 at Minford High School.

The matchup marked the seventh meeting between the two squads since 2012, with Minford winning all except the Redmen’s runaway win three years ago.

The Falcons’ 43 points are the most scored by either team over that same seven-year span.

The game was originally scheduled for Friday night, but was postponed a day due to inclement weather – with rainwater significantly saturating the playing surface.

Indeed, the field was dried out on Saturday, and neither it nor the Redmen could slow down the speedy Falcons.

Wiget ran the opening kickoff back 81 yards for a touchdown, then closed the scoring by sprinting 68 yards up the middle with five minutes remaining.

The final four minutes and 55 seconds was played under the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s running-clock rule, as several reserves ran the football for Rock Hill on its final possession.

By then, though, the Falcons had long since sealed an important opening-week win.

“Every team wants to get week one, because it springs you forward for week two and often times for the rest of the season,” said Minford coach Jesse Ruby. “We have a lot of speed with our skilled guys, who are very talented and can make people miss and score on any play.”

Wiget rushed for 121 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries – the other TD being a two-yard plunge to cap a two-play, 26-second possession with two minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Of course, though, his return of the season-opening kickoff caught everybody’s attention.

Wiget ran up and scooped up the ball at the 19, his momentum initially taking him into a line of Rock Hill defenders and Minford blockers.

But he broke free from would-be tacklers, got to the outside on the right side, and outraced the remaining Redmen for the final 50 yards.

“It was kicked kind of short, one of those where he (Wiget) had to come up and pick it up off the ground. At first, I thought he was stopped at around the 35-yard-line. But he squeezed through, made a kid miss, and he just has real good speed and outran everybody,” said Ruby. “He sees the field very well, and took full advantage of an opportunity.”

Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis, the left-hander and new quarterback this season, led the Falcons with 163 passing yards and two touchdowns on 10-of-17 attempts.

He added 22 yards on four carries, part of 148 rushing yards on 23 totes as a team.

His four-yard touchdown run with a minute remaining in the opening quarter closed a six-play, 42-yard drive, making it 14-0 with Caleb Yuhas’ second of five successful extra-point kicks.

Vogelsong-Lewis found his receivers open in space, and those wideouts did their part by picking yards after the catch.

Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis
Current Team

“Elijah is such a natural thrower, and he is so smart about where to put the football. He reads his keys very well,” said Ruby of his signal-caller. “He trusts his receivers, they trust him and they have really good chemistry together.”

Rock Hill coach Mark Lutz said the Falcons’ speed and playmaking ability bothered his club all game.

Combine that with the Redmen moving players around defensively due to their injuries adding up.

Rock Hill was already without senior running back Zak Adkins, and fellow senior running back T.J. McGinnis missed the entire second half after re-injuring his ankle in the first.

Brayden Malone missed as well with an injured knee – as he was set to start in the secondary – and Logan Hankins suffered a dislocated finger, forcing him to miss some snaps on Saturday.

“Minford is a good team with a lot of speed. We had a few opportunities to do a few things, but just didn’t. They have guys that can make plays in open field, and their quarterback does a nice job throwing the ball around,” said Lutz. “We had issues out in space, then when you start moving people around, you are down to your second, third or fourth defensive backs that aren’t used to that many reps. If we didn’t have bad luck, we wouldn’t have any luck at all at this moment. We have some kids banged up, but you can’t take anything away from Minford.”

Early in the fourth quarter, and with the Falcons leading 29-12, Vogelsong-Lewis put the contest out of reach with a wide-receiver screen to Matthew Risner right at the Redmen 37, as Risner ran well behind his downfield blockers all the way to the end zone.

The Yuhas extra point made it 36-12 with only 10:51 remaining, as run-oriented Rock Hill – with forced second-half shifts in its offensive backfield and a limited passing attack – couldn’t rally after that.

Risner caught four passes for 72 yards, as Drew Skaggs made three receptions for 37, including a 14-yard touchdown to make it 22-0 with 37 seconds left before halftime.

A low snap on the point-after try turned a Yuhas kick attempt into an improvised Vogelsong-Lewis run, which he converted for the two-point conversion.

That capped a four-play, 80-yard drive, as Vogelsong-Lewis completed passes to Skaggs for 14 and to Wiget for 26 on the opening two plays to move Minford into the red zone.

That score marked a major swing, as it immediately answered a massive march by the Redmen which failed to produce any points.

Rock Hill held the ball for 10 minutes and 40 seconds in the first half, running 17 plays – mainly McGinnis carries from the traditional two-tight full-house formation – and 70 yards to the Minford 3-yard-line.

Unfortunately for the Redmen, McGinnis was hit and fumbled at the 1, as Risner recovered for the Falcons for a touchback.

“That was huge right there,” said Lutz. “If we score right there, it’s 14-7 and we get the second-half kickoff and see what happens. Instead, we don’t get anything and give up another score, and on the two-point conversion, guys in space don’t make another tackle.”

“That was a huge momentum swing for us,” said Ruby. “They we wearing on us with a long drive, and we have a lot of kids playing both ways. But we got the turnover, and our kids rebounded. We started picking up steam again and responded by taking it 80 yards in four plays and scored.”

Ruby explained the difficulty of defending the Redmen’s T-formation offense, which the third-year mentor Lutz brought with him to Rock Hill from his days as an Ironton assistant.

“It’s very tough, because you just don’t see that offense a lot at all. We often times see different offensive styles and sets every week, but usually not like that, especially in week one,” he said.  “It was a challenge for us all week. It’s hard to simulate that in practice. But our kids came out and stood in there and did a very good job of trying to contain them.”

 The Redmen rushed for 260 yards on 54 carries, as Hankins – who made the lone Rock Hill reception on five passes for 13 yards – had 94 yards on 17 tries.

Brayden Friend, the starting quarterback who was moved to running back in the second half, finished with 66 yards on 10 carries, as McGinnis gained 53 first-half yards on a dozen carries before exiting due to injury.

Friend finished a 61-yard drive with a 36-yard jaunt on the opening possession of the third quarter, as Hankins had a two-yard TD run to end a 48-yard drive with 23 seconds left in the period.

Both drives were five plays, but the Falcons answered the initial Rock Hill score with Wiget’s short scoring run, set up by Risner returning a Redmen punt 33 yards to the 7.

“I challenged our kids that this was going to be a game where we face adversity. How are we going to respond when Rock Hill puts something together and we have something negative happen? Every time Rock Hill scored, we answered,” said Ruby. “The kids rose to that challenge and did a good job.”

“Every time we had an answer, Minford had an answer right back,” said Lutz. “I kept hoping for us to have something happen in the second half that would get us jump-started, but it didn’t. Then we turned into a MASH unit in the second half. I had to explain to the kids what MASH was.”

The Redmen must get healthy in a hurry now too, as Rock Hill hosts another spread-the-field formation team in Meigs on Friday night.

“Nobody is going to feel sorry for us, and I’m not going to feel sorry for ourselves,” said Lutz. “We’re not going to make excuses. We just have to get better and that begins with me.”

The Falcons will travel to Chesapeake next week, as the Panthers – an injury-plagued team last year – opened their season with a 35-13 victory over Oak Hill.

Chesapeake is coached by former Rock Hill head coach Todd Knipp.

“Next week will be a totally different challenge for us altogether. It is going to be a much different offensive scheme, so we have to get lined up correctly and be able to read our keys,” said Ruby. “They are going to do some things to cause us some issues, but we have to prepare this week and respond and adjust accordingly.”

*     *     *

Minford 43, Rock Hill 12

Rock Hill 0 0 12 0 – 12

Minford 14 8 7 14 – 43

M — Ty Wiget, 81-yard kickoff return (Caleb Yuhas kick), 11:44, 1st (7-0 M)

M — Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis, 4-yard run (Caleb Yuhas kick), 1:00, 1st (14-0 M)

M — Drew Skaggs, 14-yard pass from Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis (Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis run), :37, 2nd (22-0 M)

RH — Brayden Friend, 36-yard run (pass failed), 9:36, 3rd (22-6 M)

M — Ty Wiget, 2-yard run (Caleb Yuhas kick), 2:00, 3rd (29-6 M)

RH — Logan Hankins, 2-yard run (run failed), :23, 3rd (29-12 M)

M — Matthew Risner, 37-yard pass from Elijah-Vogelsong Lewis (Caleb Yuhas kick), 10:51, 4th (36-12 M)

M — Ty Wiget, 68-yard run (Caleb Yuhas kick), 4:55, 4th (43-12 M)

Team statistics


First downs 17 18

Plays from scrimmage 59 40

Rushes-yards 54-260 23-148

Passing yards 13 163

Total yards 273 311

Cmp-Att-Int. 1-5-0 10-17-0

Fumbles-lost 2-2 1-1

Penalties-yards 9-85 6-40

Punts-average 3-27.7 1-34


Individual Leaders

RUSHINGRock Hill: Logan Hankins 17-94 TD, Brayden Friend 10-66 TD, T.J. McGinnis 12-53, Hayden Harper 6-25, Skyler Kidd 3-17, Chase Delong 4-8, Kordell French 1-3, Trenton Williams 1-(-6); Minford: Ty Wiget 14-121 2TD, Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis 4-22 TD, Matthew Risner 2-8, Andy Crank 2-2, Team 1-(-5)

PASSINGRock Hill: Brayden Friend 1-5-0-13; Minford: Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis 10-17-0-163 2TD

RECEIVING Rock Hill: Logan Hankins 1-13; Minford: Matthew Risner 4-72, Drew Skaggs 3-47 TD, Ty Wiget 2-36, Bryson Ashley 1-8

Rock Hill vs Meigs

Chesapeake vs Minford


2Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis1017016325401000
7Matthew Risner000002904721
11Drew Skaggs000000003471
20Andy Crank00000220000
25Ty Wiget000001312522360
30Bryson Ashley00000000180
# Defense Sacks Tackles INT FGM FGA
2Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis00000
7Matthew Risner00000
11Drew Skaggs00000
20Andy Crank00000
25Ty Wiget00000
30Bryson Ashley00000

Rock Hill

3Logan Hankins00000179411130
14Brayden Friend15013010661000
29Hayden Harper000006250000
32Skyler Kidd000003170000
36T.J. McGinnis0000012530000
4Kordell French00000130000
10Trenton Williams000001-60000
33Chase Delong00000480000
# Defense Sacks Tackles INT FGM FGA
3Logan Hankins00000
14Brayden Friend00000
29Hayden Harper00000
32Skyler Kidd00000
36T.J. McGinnis00000
4Kordell French00000
10Trenton Williams00000
33Chase Delong00000


Date Time League Season Headline
August 30, 2019 7:00 pm SEO 2019 Big plays, speed spark Falcons' win over Redmen