BLANCHESTER – Blanchester capped its second straight perfect Southern Buckeye Athletic and Academic Conference National Division slate with a 38-14 Senior Night victory over cross-county rival East Clinton.
The Wildcats (6-4, 5-0), which entered the game in the eighth and final playoff spot in Region 20, will now hope the chips fall into place when the Ohio High School Athletic Association announces the official pairings Sunday.
The sixth, seventh and 12th teams entering Friday lost. The ninth, 10th and 11th teams won. As of press time, JoeEitel.com had Blanchester comfortably in the eighth playoff spot.
“When I came into the season, I thought I had a lot more (players) than what came out. We had to change up the game plan. The expectation was hopefully league champs. I didn’t know that we’d be able to make the playoffs, or not. I thought we’d have to win two of the first five. Hopefully we can get in at 6-4,” Blan head coach Jon Mulvihill said.
Blan led 14-7 at half time on a pair of Gage Huston touchdown runs sandwiched around an East Clinton touchdown pass from Jared Smith to Jaden Singleton.
East Clinton fumbled the second-half kickoff to Blan at the Astros 37. Ty Goodwin hauled in a touchdown pass from Andrew Frump on the next play to make it 21-7.
The Wildcats forced an EC three-and-out on EC’s next drive and then went on a six-play, 69-yard drive that ended in a Colt Conover 1-yard plunge and 28-7 advantage.
About a minute later, EC had an errant snap and Blan chased Jared Smith around for dear life before he threw a pick six to Huston.
“It’s a great group of kids. They worked hard for us all season,” Mulvihill said. “We’re undersized. We’re not fast. We just won with heart the last half of the season. We had injuries all season on the line. We lost six starting linemen throughout the year. They did everything we asked them to do.”
EC cashed in on an interception of its own toward the end of the third quarter when Jared Smith found Branson Smith in the end zone to cut Blan’s lead to 35-14. The Astros converted a fourth down earlier in the drive.
The Astros’ season ends at 4-6 overall and 2-3 in the division. They ended a 14-game losing streak in Week 2 of the season.
“After last year, I don’t think anybody gave them a chance to do much of anything. They’re capable of a lot of things. We were in a lot of football games we didn’t win this year. To win four, and to have a chance to maybe win five or six, says a lot about them and how far they come,” EC head coach Steven Olds said. “If you would have told me in the preseason, we would win three or four games, I might have taken that. To be in a Week 9 game where if you win you have a chance to play this game tonight to at least share a league title is something I couldn’t have imagined back when I got the job.
“But I think in the back of our minds, we felt we could be competitive in this league, and we’re working toward that.”
Nov 2, 2019
@Barbour Memorial Field
Blanchester 38, East Clinton 14
BLAN – Huston 6 run (Damewood kick), :46.3.
EC – Singleton 61 pass from J. Smith (Davis kick), 7:06.
BLAN – Huston 5 run (Damewood kick), 1:41.
BLAN – Goodwin 37 pass from Frump (Damewood kick), 11:47.
BLAN – Conover 1 run (Damewood kick), 8:46.
BLAN – Huston 25 interception return (Damewood kick), 7:39.
EC – B. Smith 7 pass from J. Smith (Davis kick), 2:59.
BLAN – Damewood 27 FG, 11:56.
Shawn Robinson covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @twinzdad01.