SPARTA — Games in past seasons at Highland High School’s Covrett Field have not been kind to the Buckeye Valley Barons, to say the least. The Barons had not beaten the Fighting Scots in Sparta since 1997 — until Friday.
Buckeye Valley put up over 400 yards of total offense, including more than 200 through the air, and walloped the hosts by a 44-14 count in their Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference Red Division contest.
“We saw some things on film that we thought we could do when it came to throwing the football, then we have the speed package where we’re essentially trying to get our five fastest kids on the field,” Buckeye Valley coach Mike Marshall said. “We spread them out doing that and even ran out of that a couple times. It wasn’t effective the last two weeks with the wet weather, but it worked well tonight.”
Buckeye Valley (4-3, 3-3 MOAC Red) completed 18 of 24 passes on the evening for 236 yards and three touchdowns. Senior quarterback Kevan Green had his best night as Baron quarterback, going 16 of 22 for 227 yards and two touchdowns, and gained 41 yards on seven carries, many on scrambles, helping break a six-game losing streak at Highland (1-6, 1-5).
“Kevan had a heck of a night, but he does so many things for us with his head,” Marshall said. “He puts people in positions and there are a lot of things he calls at the line of scrimmage, and he has the green light to make those calls. We have a series of audibles and he does a great job with that.”
Still, it wasn’t easy to stop the Scots’ offense, either. Highland still managed to run up 273 yards of offense, 229 on the ground and 116 courtesy of senior running back Hayden Mailey.
“This is a hard place to play,” Marshall said. “(Highland coach) Chad (Carpenter) runs a great program. They’ve taken some lumps, but they’re a good football team — a great program with competitive kids. Hayden Mailey is a tough kid and hard to bring down.”
In fact, Highland drew first blood after a wild snap on a Baron punt attempt gave the Scots the ball at the Buckeye Valley 19. Highland’s Michael Halpin took the ball after a double handoff and scored on the first play from scrimmage, giving the Scots a 7-0 lead with 2:49 left in the opening quarter.
But the Barons equalized things less than two minutes later, driving 54 yards on five plays and finishing with a pass from Green to junior Will Crecelius — a pass that started with a bad snap and ended with Crecelius catching the ball after falling on his back side.
Buckeye Valley got the ball back when senior Zach Willis sacked Highland quarterback Josh Gahm and forced a fumble that was recovered by senior Jack Grote. After a Baron penalty on first down, junior back Caleb Green slipped a pair of tackles and ran 43 yards for another score with just 17 seconds left in the first quarter. The Barons never trailed after that.
Junior back Austin Hilt added a pair of touchdown runs in the second quarter from eight and 22 yards away and senior kicker Mason Long hit a 25-yard field goal as the clock ticked to zero, giving the Barons a 30-7 lead at the half.
Caleb Green threw a seven-yard touchdown pass to Kelly with 9:03 left in the third quarter to put Buckeye Valley ahead 37-7, but Highland answered, driving 80 yards on 13 plays and capping the march with a one-yard Mailey touchdown plunge with 3:16 left in the third.
But Buckeye Valley capped a long march of its own with the final touchdown, as Caleb Green caught a 12-yard scoring pass from Kevan Green with 29 seconds left in the game, ending a 12-play, 65-yard drive.
Caleb Green led the Baron rushers with 97 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown while Hilt rushed just four times for 47 yards, but scored twice. Jack Kelly led all receivers with five catches for 115 yards, while Crecelius added four catches for 29 yards with a score. Long also kept up his strong season with his field goal, four extra points and five touchbacks on kickoffs.
“Caleb had a big night, Will Crecelius had a big night and Jack Kelly had a very big night,” Marshall said. “Jack is certainly a nice addition for us and we’re happy he’s here and not on the links. It was a good night for the Barons.”
The Barons will play host to Mount Gilead at 7 p.m. Friday, the same Indians team that defeated them 20-14 in overtime last year in Mount Gilead.
“We’ve got to get ready for Mount Gilead, not only because it’s homecoming week, but because we remember what happened last year,” Marshall said. “We talked about that at the end of the game on the field, so that’s fresh in our memories and that’s what we’re working toward.”