MONROE – For the first time since the 2001 season, Preble Shawnee’s football team had something to play for in Week 10, other than pride.
The Arrows entered the final regular season game at Monroe on Friday, Oct. 28, playing for a chance to make the state playoffs for the first time in school history and tie a school record for wins in a season.
“We knew this was going to be a tough test and we talked about it all week,” Preble Shawnee coach Matt Hopkins said.
Hopes for the playoffs and best record faded during the second quarter, when the host Hornets outscored the Arrows 21-0 en route to a 35-14 win.
“I thought my guys didn’t give up tonight,” Hopkins said. “I thought we played extremely hard in the second half. I challenged them at halftime to not quit and have no regrets. For a lot of these guys, this is going to be the last two quarters they ever play. I wanted them to give it everything they had and I know they did. I’m so proud of them.”
Shawnee ends the season 6-4 overall and 3-3 in the Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye Division.
Only five other Shawnee teams have reached the six-win mark in 51 years of playing football.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Hornets got on the scoreboard on the first play of the second quarter on a 50-yard touchdown pass.
The score remained 7-0 in Monroe’s favor until late into the second quarter. The Hornets scored on a 16-yard run with 3:39 left in the half for a 14-0 lead and capped the scoring on a 1-yard run with seven seconds remaining.
“I think we just got out of sorts. We had some turnovers and things kind of weren’t going our way,” Hopkins said of the second quarter. “And they took advantage.”
Monroe added two more scores in the third quarter on runs of 16- and 68-yards, for a 35-0 lead.
“They made just a few more plays than we did. That’s what it boils down to,” Hopkins said.
Shawnee cut into the lead in the fourth quarter on a pair of 3-yard touchdowns runs by Luke Lovely and Kevin Ketring.
The game was the third straight road contest for the Arrows.
“It’s been tough every single week to get it going. We’re just physically and emotionally beat,” Hopkins said. “Again, I’m just very proud of how we finished.”
Hopkins likes the direction the program is headed.
“We’re still getting there. We’re still getting there as a program,” he said. “We took a huge leap forward with this senior class. They’ve done so much for this program. I could never thank them enough. I’m so happy for this senior class because nobody thought they would do it. Everybody overlooked these guys. I knew that we had great leadership and that will win you a couple of games.”
Shawnee will lose 11 seniors to graduation. They are Ketring, Matt Hall, Tyler Blankenship, Gunner Edwards, Lane Conway, John Powers, Caleb Moore, Gunner Crank, Tanner Crabtree, Alex Steele, and Colton Pugh.
Hopkins said it was team effort being one of the best in Shawnee history.
“It was a group effort and a team effort from the seniors all the way down to freshman, ” Hopkins said. “It’s been 15 years since we played like this in Week 10. My senior year. There have only been five other teams in 51 years of Preble Shawnee football that have won six games. It’s just awesome that in Week 10 we’re playing for best record and possibly the playoffs. It’s been a long time. That’s where we want to be.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH.