WEST ALEXANDRIA — Cole Bishop threw for two touchdowns and rushed for two more to lead No. 7 seed Twin Valley South to a 34-7 win over No. 10 Cin. Deer Park in the opening round of the Division VI, Region 24 OHSAA state football playoffs on Friday, Oct. 27.
After a slow start to the season, losing three of four, South has now won five straight games.
The Panthers (7-4) will take that winning streak to No. 2 Versailles (9-2) for a regional quarterfinal game on Friday, Nov. 3. Last season the two teams also met in the quarterfinals with the Tigers coming away with a 58-7 win.
“It feels like we’re building something,” Brian Butts, South’s first-year head coach said. “And that was the goal. We knew Carlisle was a tough game one, because we saw what we did in scrimmages.”
It took the Panthers a while to get going and take advantage of their team speed, but once they did Deer Park had little to no answers.
“Tonight, they got after us in a Double A gap a little bit and we didn’t execute it the way we wanted to. But we got enough of it,” Butts said. “Slippery conditions kind of hurt us. We felt our speed was better, their size was a little bigger. And it played more to their strength than our strength, but we found a way.”
Bishop, who completed 3-of-3 passes for 126 yards, connected with Cais Kingsley for a 17-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter for the game’s first score. After a successful two-point try, South led 8-0.
Bishop then scored on a 28-yard run for a 14-0 lead.
Deer Park cut the margin to 14-7, but Bishop and company responded.
Kingsley, who led the Panthers with 75 rushing and 66 yards receiving, caught a 49-yard TD pass to give the Panthers a 20-7 lead at the half.
In the third quarter, Bishop scored on a 30-yard run and a successful two-point conversion made it a 28-7 game.
Brayden Koeller wrapped up the scoring with a 29-yard run in the fourth for the final margin.
“I thank God for Cole Bishop, he made some unbelievable plays and played his heart out and everybody did,” Butts said. “But I mean, he saved us a few times. He’s just improvising and making plays with that speed.”
Butts said it was an emotion week for his team knowing this was most likely the final time the team would be playing on its home field.
“It’s been an emotional week for the kids. Every year since I’ve been a coach, we’ve done a bonfire at the end with just the players,” he said. “We talk to the seniors about this is it and what football has meant to you and all that kind of good stuff. And we saved that for this week because we thought we’re going to have a home game.
“We saved it and we did that last night. And I think some of the emotions of walking out here. We talked about, hey, look out there. We talked about this last night; it is your last time. And I think that took a little edge off, you know, but once we got our fire going, we were pretty good.”
Butts said the team has bought in to what the current coaching staff is trying to accomplish.
“This speaks volumes of these kids. They bought into what we’re teaching and they’re making less and less mistakes,” he said. “And you know, next week we’re going to have to go out and play pretty much mistake free and get after, but I think will battle and represent well and hopefully find some way to win the ball game. I think that we’re going to represent ourselves much better against Versailles than we did last year. I think we’ll be sound, and we’ll get after we get some speed that should concern them. And we can go multiple directions. Hopefully we get better playing conditions that help us.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on X @emowenjr.