Xenia linebacker Johnzel Gray pursues Fairborn quarterback Garison Secrest during the Buccaneers’ 50-8 win against the Skyhawks at Doug Adams Stadium, Thursday night. Nick Dudukovich/CONTRIBUTED

Xenia football wins first outright conference title since 1969

By beating Fairborn, 50-8, Thursday night at Doug Adams Stadium, the Xenia Buccaneers won their first outright division championship in football since 1969. The Buccaneers’ last shared a piece of a division title in 2006.

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With Xenia, Fairborn (2-8, 2-2) and eight other schools set to leave the Greater Western Ohio Conference at season’s end, the Buccaneers went 7-3 (4-0) to earn the American South Division crown. Next fall, the Xenia will join the revived Miami Valley League.

Xenia was powered by senior running back Sincere Wells, who had a historic night of his own.

Wells rushed 20 times for 84 yards and three touchdowns. His last running score, which came about three minutes into the third quarter, marked his 20th of the year, setting Xenia’s single-season record. The touchdown and PAT put Xenia ahead 36-0.

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Before putting his name at the top of the touchdown list, Wells tied Cedric Tolbert (2002) and Ted Detty (1952) with his 19th touchdown of the season on a 5-yard scoring run with just under a minute to play in the first half, giving Xenia a 22-0 lead.

It wouldn’t be the last TD he had a hand in though.

With 1:44 remaining in the third, Wells took handoff from senior quarterback Christian Severt ran toward the sideline, stopped, and threw back across field to find Severt open for a 20-yard touchdown.

Xenia was 10-20 combined the last three seasons.

“We never gave up, after last year…we had a terrible season,” Wells said. “But we knew it was going to change and we weren’t going to let it happen again.”

Xenia head coach Trace Smitherman reflected on the effort that went into the turnaround following the Buccaneers’ 2-8 record in 2017.

“You start on Dec. 2 or Dec. 3, you go through the weights and the hot summers and the kids are complaining, and they start to get it…and you start putting goals on the board of what you want to try to get done,” Smitherman said. “And look what happened.”

Xenia will fall short of its other goal — the state playoffs. According to joeeitel.com, the Buccaneers have been eliminated from contention in the the Division II, Region 8 computer rankings. The top eight teams in each region make the postseason.

“No question (the ending to the season is bittersweet),” Smitherman said. “One of the lofty goals was to try and get into playoffs. All of these accolades are fantastic, but ultimately, one of the bigger ones we might try to get is into is the playoffs.”

But in about five weeks, Smitherman is hopeful that coming up short of the postseason will be on everyone’s mind when it’s time to get back into the weight room for winter.

“What (missing the playoffs) does is give us a chip on our shoulder and gives us an opportunity to get after it next year,” Smitherman said.

As for Wells, who stood the small postgame media scrum with one of his teammates calling him the “GOAT,” records are made to be broken.

“I hope somebody comes along and breaks it off and takes it away from me,” he said.

Xenia’s Nick Willis had a 62-yard TD run. Fairborn’s one score came on Brody Munger’s 8-yard TD run late in the fourth.

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