CAMDEN — The 2016 football season opened with a bang for the Preble Shawnee Arrows — and a complete disaster for National Trail. Shawnee dominated the entire game en route to a 50-0 shutout of the Blazers in non-conference play.
As with many in the southwestern Ohio area Friday night, Aug. 26, the game was postponed early due to lightning and was continued on Saturday morning, Aug. 27. But the delay didn’t help National Trail, nor slow down Preble Shawnee in determining the outcome.
“We had a lot of big plays — we need to work on sustained drives, but I’m not going to tell my boys not to go for the home run so I’m happy with it,” said Preble Shawnee coach Matt Hopkins. “Lane Conway is a senior who has really stepped up for us and Matt Hall runs great routes. Once Hall gets behind the defense, he’s going to score in most foot races.
“Our defensive staff really had our boys ready to play,” Hopkins said. “Our defense needs to be that mean, nasty group that just wants to get after people, and today, they did that wonderfully. There was a good amount of gang tackling today.”
National Trail started the game with first drive but was stopped on 3-and-out. Shawnee answered on their third play of the game with a pass from senior quarterback Kevin Ketring to running back Hall, who zipped past defenders for 56 yards and ran in for the first touchdown.
On the next possession, Trail was stopped again on three plays — two of them went for losses on the efforts of Shawnee linebacker Eli Gibson. The Arrows wasted little time scoring on a 67-yard pass from Ketring to senior receiver Lane Conway, to notch the score up 14-0.
The Blazers fumbled on the third play of their next drive, which was recovered by the Arrow defense.
At that point, the game was postponed due to lightning.
When the game resumed on Saturday morning, nothing had changed but the weather. The Arrows got their third touchdown pass as Conway broke a tackle from Angel Garabito to run in for his second score of the game, putting Shawnee up, 21-0.
The game got worse for the Blazers as quarterback Ben Sullivan was sacked into the end zone for a safety by Tanner Crabtree and Alex Steele.
The Blazers changed things up by trying a no-huddle offense, but was ineffective, as miscues plagued them throughout the game. Shawnee was unable to generate much of their own running between the tackles, but made up for it with a few plays to the outside, and a good passing game.
“They (NT) actually gave us some fits up front,” Hopkins said. “They are stronger than people realize. I really think not having two scrimmages hurt our running game between the tackles, so we went around them or in the air.”
At halftime, the Arrows led 36-0. The second half saw a slower game with fewer scores and fewer big plays. Shawnee added a lot of depth into the game, as did Trail, employing their entire second string numerous times. This continued on throughout the game with highlights being a very long run by freshman running back Ben Hobbs in the fourth quarter, finished off with a quarterback sneak at the goal line by Eddie Kinkaid.
When the final gun mercifully sounded, the score was 50-0.
“Crabtree played the best I have ever seen him play,” Hopkins said. “Our guys fought back against a team that was actually bigger than us. We came out healthy and Trail did as well. I wanted to get the young guys reps and give the starters a rest. The lack of scrimmages really hurt us, so I called off the dogs when the game was pretty much out of reach.”
National Trail Coach Randy Kerns was very disappointed. “We expected a lot more,” he said. “I am as disappointed in the team as I’ve ever been. They are better kids than this. The lack of effort is mind boggling to me. Preble Shawnee didn’t have scrimmages and we did, but they were the ones who made it look the other way around.”
The National Trail defense was led by Tyler Glander and Levi Norton, who both contributed six tackles defensively. Glander added a sack.
“We had well over a dozen penalties. Sometime we started a drive first and 20 because of penalties,” Kerns said. “The alignments were wrong, the assignments were off, our tackling wasn’t that good. I have to figure out something to get these guys ready for next week.”
“We gave up the first two touchdowns on blown coverages, so we tried to switch to man cover and we couldn’t do that,” Kerns said. “They made the plays and we didn’t. I thought we would give them problems running inside with the size we have. We figured they would go outside on us, and for the most part they did and took advantage of it. But we just need to improve the secondary and fast — because teams are going to see the films on us and they will take advantage of it.”
Preble Shawnee (1-0) will travel to Twin Valley South on Friday, Sept. 2 for a 7 p.m. kickoff. National Trail (0-1) will open Cross County Conference play by traveling to Miami East. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.