“It means the world, it means going back to 2004, all the teams that made it to state,” Bey said. “We want to be just like them.”
Whoever else the Tigers might be like, they were themselves against Preble Shawnee (13-1), a team having the greatest season in school history.
“We couldn’t match up physically with them,” Maddox said. “They’re big and powerful and they won up front, and that’s basically where the game was won.”
The Tigers first flexed on offense, and Jack Osborne scored on an early 12-yard run. Bey, who rushed for 126 yards on 13 carries, set the tone with big runs. On third-and-10, he ran up the middle behind center Caleb Rush and guards Brayden Keihl and Jacob Treon for a first down to the Shawnee 15. He scored on the next play, through the middle, for a 14-0 halftime lead.
“We knew we were going to get the run game going, and we knew if we didn’t need the pass game, we weren’t going to use it,” Bey said. “And we didn’t need it, so we didn’t use it.”
Except for one time when they sneaked in a pass play to score in the third quarter. The Tigers showed run, but Bey threw 16 yards to a wide-open Trey Mills for a 21-0 lead. The Tigers rushed for 280 yards and added another score on a six-yard run by Landon Henry.
“Our goal: Shove it down their throat every play,” Tyo said. “Just keep going, going, going and grind ‘em, grind ‘em, grind ‘em until they get tired and tired. And that’s when the game gets easy. That’s when you have fun is when you just grind them down.”
Shawnee had a grinder running the ball between the tackles, but 6-2, 220-pound Hunter Crockett, the Division V offensive player of the year in the Southwest District, was hemmed in and rushed for 48 yards on 14 carries. Quarterback Brayden Doran was held to 63 yards on 21 carries trying the get outside. And two turnovers killed promising first-half drives.
“On defense we knew we had a running back on our hands that could run some of us over,” Tyo said. “We had to get low. He’s big, and we tackled pretty well tonight. Their quarterback, he’s a speedy dude and we also shut him down. It’s just a testament to our coaches and our hard work over the season.”
For Shawnee, the loss meant the end of a season of firsts. With 13 wins, they almost doubled the previous record of seven. The Arrows won their first conference title, qualified for the playoffs for the first time and won a playoff game for the first time. They did it with only 29 players and only three seniors.
When the Arrows received their runner-up trophy, their fans cheered like they’d just scored a touchdown and their band played the fight song.
“Hate to lose,” Maddox said. “But we still count this season as a success.”
Coldwater 49, Allen East 7: Reece Dellinger went 13-of-15 for 180 yards with four touchdown passes in the first half as Coldwater raced out to a 42-0 halftime lead and cruised to a Division VI regional final win. Coldwater (12-2) will take on West Jefferson (13-1) in the state semifinals at Alexander Stadium in Piqua on Saturday.
Marion Local 27, St. Henry 8: Darren Meier and Peyton Otte each ran for a pair of touchdowns as unbeaten Marion Local broke the game open late to take home a Division VII regional title. Marion Local (14-0) moves on to play Hopewell-Loudon (13-1) in the state semifinals at Spartan Stadium in Lima on Saturday.