Like all his teammates, Braydon Dean took it to heart when Sidney football coach Adam Doenges challenged the Yellow Jackets to up their considerable game.
“This is the playoffs, man,” said Dean after accepting and delivering an ultimate defensive challenge that resulted in a 46-33 defeat of visiting Belmont in a playoff opener on Friday night. “It was a big challenge. Like coach says all the time, we’ve got to overcome adversity and give it our all. That’s what we did.”
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The payoff is immense. Sidney (10-1) will play three-time defending champion Cincinnati LaSalle (9-2) of the mighty Greater Catholic League South in a Division II, Region 8 semifinal next. The Ohio High School Athletic Association will announce all neutral sites on Sunday.
Sidney has ridden senior running back Isaiah Bowser and junior quarter Andre Gordon all season and they delivered again.
Bowser, the area’s leading rusher and among the front-runners for Ohio’s Mr. Football, answered a two-way calling. Offensively, he rushed for 228 yards and had four touchdown runs that covered 68, 30, 8 and 3 yards. He also had several key tackles as a roving old-school monster back. His interception on the final play of the first half nearly was returned the entire field for a score.
“Coach told me he needed me more on defense this week,” Bowser said. “I told him, I’ve got it.”
Gordon rushed for 85 yards and scored once. He also threw for 114 yards and two more scores.
All of that was needed because Belmont (9-1) pushed Sidney to its defensive limit. Featuring a unique misdirection and often double-handoff, Wing-T offense, Belmont stayed even until Bowser struck late in the third quarter.
Belmont senior Dawson Martin had 132 yards rushing and scored. Another Bison senior, Elijah Malcolm, added 81 yards rushing and three scores.
Belmont allowed just nine points through the regular season and no TDs had been scored on its defense.
“We’ve got our fair share of stuff and there was definitely some stuff that didn’t work, but when it’s Andre Gordon and it doesn’t work, it usually turns into something good every once in a while,” Doenges said. “We’ve got some special kids and special athletes who are able to weather the storm and I’m pretty darn proud of them.”
It’s only the second time for Sidney to be in the playoffs. The 1989 Yellow Jackets won two postseason games and reached a D-II state semifinal. It was the third straight playoff appearance for Belmont, which has lost all three playoff openers.
Unlike many first-round mismatches, this was an intriguing matchup of an emerging Greater Western Ohio Conference program – Sidney – and an equally upstart Dayton City League program in Belmont. The Bison play in the football-only Southwest Ohio Public League, a combination of Cincinnati and Dayton urban schools, and overtook rival Dunbar – at least this season – for football supremacy.
“We knew it was going to be a challenge and they’re really, really good,” Doenges said amid hugs and well-wishers. “I give all the respect in the world to (Belmont) coach (Earl) White and what he’s been able to do at the Dayton Public Schools over the years. It’s been neat.”
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