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MARION — After last week’s loss in their final home game, the Buckeye Valley Barons decided to make this week’s game their senior night.
The Barons combined for nearly 400 yards in total offense and held down the Elgin Comets most of the way, finishing with a 22-7 Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference Red Division victory and their sixth winning season of their last seven Friday night at Elgin High School.
“You want to send your seniors out right and you want to have something to carry over that your freshmen, sophomores and juniors can hang their hats on,” Buckeye Valley coach Mike Marshall said. “I can’t say enough about this senior class. They’ve provided excellent leadership, they’re hard-working and hard-nosed kids and we’re going to miss them.”
Buckeye Valley (6-4, 5-4 MOAC Red) used the passing game to take command of the first half and ran the ball to control the clock in the second, finishing with 392 yards of total offense, 238 through the air and 154 on the ground.
Elgin (4-6, 3-6) had some success moving the football, but the Baron defense was able to keep the Comets out of the end zone for much of the game.
“Everybody came to play tonight,” Marshall said. “Our kids carried the ball well and Kevan threw the ball well again, so we moved the ball, and our defense played defense when they needed to. They played very well, too.”
Much of the Buckeye Valley passing game was a result of strong protection from the offensive line, receivers running strong routes and making solid catches, and senior quarterback Kevan Green’s accuracy.
Green was 11 of 22 through the air for 192 yards and one touchdown, despite one interception. The five receivers in the Barons’ “speed package” — senior Ben Stakely and juniors Shawn Free, Will Crecelius, Jack Kelly and Caleb Green — combined for 10 of the Barons’ 13 receptions for 195 yards and two touchdowns.
“There’s a lot of speed there,” Marshall said. “All five run a 4.7 40 or under, a couple of them run a 4.6, so they can get open and catch the ball, and they stretch defenses so we can run a little bit out of it. With that and our trips formation, we’re able to get some yards.”
The one thing the Barons didn’t do well was stay away from the penalty bug — but that problem was felt by both teams. The two squads combined for 27 penalties for 250 yards, with Buckeye Valley committing 15 penalties costing it 134 yards.
“That’s amazing,” Marshall said. “That’s surprising for week 10 of the season. When it happens week one or week two, you can get the kinks out, but in week 10 you have to go back to the drawing board.”
Still, the Barons were able to get on the board first, when, from the wildcat formation, Caleb Green threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Free in the right corner of the end zone with 8:34 left in the first quarter, putting Buckeye Valley ahead 6-0.
The Barons added another touchdown in the second quarter when Kevan Green found Kelly on a pass over the middle with 7:35 left before halftime. Crecelius then caught a pass from Kevan Green for the two-point conversion, giving Buckeye Valley at 14-0 halftime edge.
Elgin, which moved the ball effectively at times, finally broke through in the third quarter when Garrett Hesson bowled over from a yard out on fourth down and goal, cutting the Comets’ deficit to seven.
But Buckeye Valley controlled the clock in the second half and dominated the time of possession in the fourth quarter, keeping Elgin from getting anything going. Buckeye Valley held the ball for 9:01 of the final quarter, and scored the last touchdown with 7:30 left in the game on junior Austin Hilt’s seven-yard touchdown run.
Senior tight end Jack Grote led the Baron receivers with three catches for 31 yards, while Free had two catches for 68 yards and his touchdown, Caleb Green two catches for 53 yards, Stakely two receptions for 42 yards and Kelly two catches for 23 yards and his touchdown.
Caleb Green carried 10 times for 61 yards to lead the Baron rushers, with Hilt carrying six times for 50 yards and his touchdown. Caleb Green also went 2 for 4 passing for 46 yards and a touchdown.
Hesson led all rushers with 64 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown for Elgin. Mason Clark was 9 of 19 for 98 yards passing for the Comets, and Joel Gruber led all receivers with four catches for 40 yards.
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