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CAMDEN – The Preble Shawnee Arrows thumped the Williamsburg Wildcats for an overwhelming 62-7 victory in the second round of the state playoffs. After last weeks close game, folks were expecting another dog fight at Shawnee high school. But the Arrows seemed to find another gear Saturday night and dominated on offense, defense, and special teams – the Arrows surpassed the Wildcats in each facet of the game. The Arrows appear to be peaking at the right time – in the heart of the playoffs.
In the first quarter the two teams sparred to get a feel for the other and each team was able to score. Each team had a possession with no score initially. Then it was the Wildcats who struck first with an 81-yard TD pass. Shawnee answered on their next possession. Hunter Crockett, who ran well all night, started gaining 8-10 yards a carry. But it was quarterback Braydon Doran who found the end zone on a 14-yard carry. This deadlocked the score at 7-7.
Malechai Stephenson saw to it that the score did not stay tied for long. He had a career night against the Wildcats. On the night he would have TD catches of 44, 7, and 30-yards from Doran. Then he had 2-interceptions one of which he returned 40-yards for yet another TD. His efforts in the second quarter put the team up 28-7 at halftime.
“Malechai Stephenson had a big game last week and I think it gave him confidence,” said Preble Shawnee coach, Dave Maddox. “He came out here tonight and played well on both sides of the ball. We are happy for him.”
With the Wildcats focused on stopping the pass, this opened up the running game for Hunter Crockett. With firm ground under foot this week he was able to make cuts and extend runs. His 1st score was from 1 yard out. But his second score was an impressive run where he rambled for 74-yards before crossing the goal line.
“He ran very well and he blocked very well,” Coach Maddox stated. “That’s the thing with our guys, they are not selfish. They know they don’t get the ball all the time and they have a job. Whether that be blocking, or catching, or throwing. But he did run very hard tonight – that is the best that I have seen him run.”
Even when Shawnee began to rest their starters in the second half, they were able to score. Grady Hutchinson scored from 8-yards out and Cooper Roell scored on a 30-yard run. It was that kind of night where nothing could go wrong for the Arrows.
“At halftime I told them that they were still too soft and that they were not tough enough,” said Maddox. “I told them that I don’t think that we have had a game where every player played to the best of their ability for each and every play. I think they met that tonight. But I don’t want them to stay satisfied – I want them to be hungry.”
And special teams shone as well. Shawnee employed a squib kick on their kickoffs and the Wildcats had a tough time finding the handle of the ball. Shawnee’s Cooper Roell and Lane Lovely both recovered the ball on kickoffs to give Shawnee good starting field position.
On defense, Evan Riley spent a lot of time in the Wildcat backfield with a sack and several pressures of the quarterback. Aiden Walters swatted down a pass. Besides the first quarter touchdown, the defense shut-down the offense of the Wildcats. They could not run or pass consistently even when defensive starters were being pulled in the fourth quarter. A testament to the depth of Shawnee.
“I think that is the best we’ve played all season,” stated Coach Maddox. “We played great on both sides of the ball – special teams too. They played very, very hard. We had fun and that’s what it’s all about. Williamsburg is a big, physical team. But we were able to come and turn the momentum in our favor and get them out of their game.”
Later he was asked about the atmosphere at Shawnee, “It is great to be part of this – we have never been here before. They are a great group of guys. The community has given us their support. Our goal has always been to go undefeated and win the conference. Now it is – let’s go win some playoff games. It’s been neat to see this happen.”
Lastly he was asked to talk about some of the players that aren’t always in the headlines, “Cooper Roell plays both sides of the ball, he kicks, he punts. He plays hard all the time and doesn’t always get the recognition. Dylan Zornes is the same way. He also plays both sides of the ball. He plays so hard and plays so well. But they are all good kids – they are coachable and you enjoy being around them. The offensive line is the same way –Beau Nemeth, Evan Riley, Cole Hawkins, Brody Lynch, Garrett Campbell”
The next rung of the playoff ladder is against Roger Bacon, a perennial powerhouse, next Saturday at a neutral site that will be selected by OHSAA.
Chris Tilton has covered sports in Southwest Ohio for the past 23 years and has lived in Southwest Ohio most of his life.
He is mostly retired and continues to enjoy travel in the USA and hs been to Asia and Europe. Chris continues to work as a freelance writer.
His Hobbies include fishing and computer gaming.
Chris lives on a 32 acre farm in the Camden area. He has 10 grandchildren the he enjoys spending time with when he is not covering sports or traipsing around the country.