Piqua football faces Winton Woods in a D-II, Region 8 title game at Northmont Friday night

PIQUA — The excitement continues for the Piqua football team for another week.

The Indians completed a second straight fourth quarter comeback against Edgewood Friday night, rallying from 21-14 down in the final four minutes to win 28-21.

Piqua, 12-0 will now play Winton Woods, 10-3, in a D-II regional final at 7 p.m. Friday at Northmont High School.

“I think it does (say a lot of about his team),” Piqua football coach Bill Nees said. “When you get in these situations in the playoffs, you either win or your season is over. Which is different from the regular season.”

Like Piqua, Winton Woods has been a state champion and state runnerup.

Piqua won the D-II state title in 2006 and was state runnerup in 2000.

Winton Woods won the state title in 2009 and was runnerup in 2017.

As you would expect with it being a regional final game, this will be Piqua’s toughest challenge yet.

The Warriors play in the Eastern Cincinnati Conference, which includes Anderson, Turpin, Kings, LaSalle and Piqua’s first-round opponent this year.

Winton Woods will be going outside the ECC in the postseason for the first time this year.

The Warriors opened the postseason with a win over Turpin and followed it with wins over Kings and LaSalle.

“This is their first game in the postseason that is not a conference opponent,” Nees said. “They avenged losses to Kings and LaSalle the last two weeks.”

Senior quarterback Buddy Ellery (5-10, 175) has completed 77 of 134 passes for 1,029 yards, with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Junior running back KC Spears (5-8, 165) has caught 18 passes for 372 yards and eight touchdowns, while senior receiver Derrick Lawson (6-4, 185) has caught 21 passes for 324 yards.

But, that is not where Spears hurt LaSalle last week.

While he entered the game with just 21 carries on the season, he rushed for 228 yards and five touchdowns on eight carries against the Lancers, including TD runs of 94, 83 and 36 yards.

“He hadn’t carried the ball that much all season,” Nees said. “It just worked out that he had a couple big runs Friday night. He does a little bit of everything. He his the holder on kicks and the punter. He is the lead blocker on some of their stretch plays.”

Spears now has 428 yards and eight touchdowns on 29 carries.

Senior tailback Tyrek Spikes has 1,345 yards and 13 touchdowns on 207 carries.

“He (Tyrek Spikes) is the second leading rusher in the ECC,” Nees said. “They run a spread offense with a lot of zone reads.”

They rely on the big play.

“About half their yards come on chunk plays (30 yards or more),” Nees said. “They are averaging about 400 yards a game on offense and 200 of it comes on chunk plays.”

What the Warriors do on defense is simple.

“They stop people,” Nees said. “They are a little bit like us. Their base defense is an even front, but they will change it up at times.”

Senior defensive lineman Jay’ron Gibson leads the ECC with 14 sacks and has 64 tackles.

Junior linebacker Qierston Williams (6-0, 230) leads the defense with 70 tackles and senior defensive lineman Jayden Denton has 7.5 sacks.

In the secondary, junior Cameron Calhoun leads the ECC with eight interceptions.

Junior defensive back Jermaine Matthews Jr. (6-0, 175) has three forced fumbles and four interceptions and senior linebacker Jeremiah Anderson (5-9, 185) has three interceptions.

“They have the conference leader in sacks and interceptions and one of the leading tacklers in the conference at linebacker,” Nees said.

Piqua looks to counter with a balanced offense.

Junior quarterback Brady Ouhl (6-1, 176) has completed 102 of 149 passes for 1,461 yards, with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions.

He spreads the ball down to seven different receivers.

Senior Cory Miller (6-0, 172) has 30 catches for 383 yards and three touchdowns and junior Dre’sean Roberts 96-2, 172) has 27 catches for 355 yards and two touchdowns.

Junior H-back Colton Beougher (6-2, 1940 and junior receiver Elijah Frazier (6-2, 167) have both caught three touchdown passes, while junior receiver Ryan Brown 96-0, 167) and senior receiver Giovanni Barron 96-1, 171) have both caught two touchdown passes.

Senior running back Jasiah Medley (6-1, 196) is closing in on 2,000 yards rushing.

Medley has 1,959 yards and 35 touchdowns on 202 carries and also has caught one pass for a touchdown.

Ouhl has 55 yards and seven touchdown on 67 attempts and junior running back Bryson Roberts 95-11, 182) and sophomore running back Ky Warner (6-1, 181) have both rushed for four touchdowns.

Senior running back Tanner Kemp (6-1, 184) averages eight yards a carry and has run for five touchdowns.

“We do (want to be balanced),” Nees said. “The more people we can get involved in the offense, the better. Fortunately, our players understand the importance of taking care of the ball and our quarterback does a great job of never putting the ball at risk.”

On defense, junior linebacker Sam Schmiesing (6-2, 223) has been a tackling machine for the Indians.

He has 129 tackles — including 118 solo — stripped the ball carrier to set up the winning touchdown Friday night and has an interception.

Senior defensive end Landon Hare (6-2, 214) has 70 tackles, 5.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and three recovered fumbles.

Seniors Braiden Strayer (5-10, 169) has six interceptions, while senior Aidan Meyer (5-8, 179) had a pick to seal the win over Edgewood Friday night.

The challenge Friday night for the defense is clear.

“Absolutley,” Nees said about limiting the chunk plays against an offense the lives on them.

Junior kicker Jackson Trombley (5-11, 180) had a 70-yard punt to swing the momentum Friday night.

Less than 10 of his kickoffs have been returned this year and he has made 70 of 72 PATs, while averaging 34.9 yards on punts. He has also made his only field goal attempt.

For Winton Woods, junior kicker Dan Umba Domobele 95-11, 144) has made 33 of 40 PATs and five of seven field goals, with a long off 33 yards.

“Just on kickoffs alone, Jackson (Trombley) is huge,” Nees said about facing a team with two kickoff returns and two punt returns for touchdowns.

All of which should make for another exciting Friday night.