BLANCHESTER — Blanchester took care of business, and thanks to some fellow Wildcats, Blan likely will play on into week 11.
Needing a win to have any chance at a postseason berth, Blanchester scored the last 20 points of the first half Friday, defeating Amelia 41-14 at Barbour Memorial Field.
It appeared that wouldn’t be enough, as Anna had taken a 23-20 lead over Minster with less than two minutes left.
However, as the players headed to the locker room feeling as if they had just missed the playoffs, the news came in from Minster. The Wildcats scored with four seconds left to defeat Anna 27-23.
That was the last piece of the puzzle, and it appears Blanchester’s miraculous five-game run into the playoffs was complete. The official numbers will be posted on Sunday, but barring a misreported score, Blanchester is in.
BHS head coach Brandon Sammons had a message for his Wildcat friends 102 miles away.
“Thank you. Thank you very much,” Sammons said. “We really appreciate it.”
Before the result at Minster High School could help, Blanchester had to take care of business against Amelia, who was coming off of a win against Goshen and was playing its final high school football game.
“The kids knew it all week,” Sammons said. “They knew nothing mattered unless we did our job. They came out and tried to make a statement. They knew it could be their last game, but it was their last game on their home field in front of their home crowd.”
While the matchups aren’t set for next Saturday night, it is possible Blanchester will be heading to Sammons’ former school, Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, who finished off a perfect regular season Friday night.
“It’s going to be fun,” Sammons said. “When I left in February, once I got the job here, I had a meeting with the players there. We were a close-knit group over there … love those kids. I told them, ‘Fellas, I’m moving on, you’re going to be in great hands, but we’ll be back week 11. See you guys next year.’
“Some of that was hopeful thinking, but I also knew from watching some film already that we had the pieces here that we could make a run. They’re a good football team. We’ll have our hands full, no doubt about it, if it works out that way.”
So instead of collecting uniforms and pads, Blanchester will be back at practice, preparing for its first playoff game since losing the regional final to Jonathan Alder in 2006.
“It’s going to be a fun week,” Sammons said. “The fact that they’re in the playoffs after the past few years and the stuff they’ve been through, that’s got them pumped about the opportunity. To know that it’s going back where I came from, that always adds a little bit extra for the kids to work a little bit harder.
Nick Hopkins made two big defensive plays in the first half to help keep the Barons off the board.
With the game tied at 7, Amelia quarterback Cage Meyer tried to air one deep for the speedy Blake Boykin. Hopkins was able to get a hand up and deflect what would have likely been a touchdown.
Blanchester (7-3) would take the lead for good on the next series. After starting at the 45, Blanchester needed seven plays to score. Tristan Greene found Hunter Collier for a 26-yard touchdown with 8:11 left in the first half. Blanchester led 14-7.
Amelia (3-7) would try to answer. The Barons constructed a 10-play drive that moved the ball to the Blanchester 19. However, on fourth and nine, Meyer’s screen pass to wide receiver Caleb Price was stymied by Hopkins, who drove Price back for a 6-yard loss.
Seven plays later, Blanchester found the end zone again. A 35-yard Green run and a 21-yard pass from Greene to Hopkins set up a 5-yard touchdown connection between the two. Blanchester led 20-7.
The Wildcats defense turned the Barons over on down at the Blanchester 31 with 1:21 left in the half. Two long completions later and Blanchester was in position for a game-sealing score. Greene passed to Collier for a 5-yard score with 16.5 left in the half. Blan led at the break 27-7.
Friday, Oct. 28, 2016
@Blanchester High School
Blanchester 41, Amelia 14
B – Tristan Greene 2-yard run (Jared Monhollen kick) 7:39
A – Eli Altherr 13-yard run (Noah Noffsinger kick) 3:57
B – Greene 26-yard pass to Hunter Collier (Monhollen kick) 8:13
B – Greene 5-yard pass to Nick Hopkins (kick failed) 2:37
B – Greene 5-yard pass to Collier (Dakota Penquite kick) 16.5
A – Cage Meyer 8-yard pass to Trey Brausch (Noffsinger kick) 4:00
B – Greene 38-yard pass to Dylan Miller (Penquite kick) 2:16
B – Greene 39-yard pass to Quenton Miller (Penquite kick) 7:36
PLAYS: A 62; B 57. FIRST DOWNS; A 17; B 19. RUSHES-YARDS: A 31-94; B 26-127. PASSING YARDS: A 141; B 259. COMPLETIONS-ATTEMPTS-INTERCEPTIONS: A 16-31-1; B 17-32-0. TOTAL YARDS: A 235; B 386. PENALTIES-YARDS: A 3-20; B 6-60. FUMBLES-LOST: A 1-1; B 3-1.
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bymattsexton.