By Rob Kiser
It may have been a year ago.
But, the returning Piqua football players haven’t completely forgotten last year’s 61-20 loss to Lima Senior.
The Spartans will visit Piqua at 7 p.m. Friday for the final game in the series.
“I think it was a big motivator over the winter,” Piqua football coach Bill Nees said. “But, then we got into the season and doing what we do. But, we have a lot of guys back from last year. And it was one of our most lopsided scores.”
Both teams come into the game with 2-0 records.
Lima Senior has beaten Middletown 53-36 and Marion Harding 49-14 and most of their high powered offense returns intact.
Senior quarterback Darious Gordon (6-2, 185) has completed 32 of 55 passes for 647 yards with eight touchdowns and two interceptions.
Junior Jaden Walker (6-0, 175) has rushed for 420 yards on 21 carries.
“They have a very good quarterback,” Nees said about Gordon. “They moved their All-Ohio safety (Jaden Walker) to running back and he has fit right in.”
Senior receivers Demontray “Boy Boy” Liles (5-9, 160), Ruben Flowers (6-4, 193) and Rico Stafford (6-5, 190) have combined for almost 600 yards receiving.
Liles has 198 yards on six receptions, Flowers has 196 yards on 11 receptions and Stafford has 179 yards on nine receptions — with each of them scoring two touchdowns.
“They have both good speed and size at the receiver position,” Nees said. “That is a pretty good combination.”
Senior outside linebacker D’nia Morris (5-10, 180) leads the Spartans with 42 tackles, while senior defensive back Jay Thomas (6-3, 200) has 38.
Junior outside linebacker Dequarius Pernell leads the team with two sacks, while Liles and junior Daimonte Fisher (5-9, 160) both have an interception.
“They play a 3-3 stack,” Nees said. “They have a big guy on the nose and they are pretty active. They move a lot of people around.”
The Indians have had a lot of success offensively as well.
Piqua senior quarterback Rupert Delacruz (5-10, 176) has completed 11 of 16 passes for 327 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception.
Senior Noah Lyman (6-4, 188) leads the receivers with seven receptions for 258 yards and one score.
Junior Darien Tipps-Clemons (6-1, 213) leads the rushing attack with 301 yards and five touchdowns on 29 carries, while senior Elijah Hudson (6-1, 186) has 88 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries.
“Things are going well on offense,” Nees said.
Senior linebacker Jarrett Toopes (6-1, 211) leads the defense with 11 tackles, while sophomore linebacker Ben Schmiesing (6-0, 199) has 10 and sophomore defensive lineman Derek Hite (6-2, 248) has nine.
Hite and junior defensive end Nathan Monnin (6-5, 249) both have one sack.
Last week’s 63-7 romp over Urbana was a big step forward for both the defensive line and special teams.
“I think the defensive line did a lot of good things,” Nees said. “Our special teams has been playing well. This will be a big test. They have a lot of good return people and it will be a test to see if we can get down the field and cover them.”
Nees knows mistake-free football is a must for Piqua to win.
“Definitely, we can’t have any turnovers,” Nees said. “We need to keep the ball in front of us on defense and control the ball on offense.”
Which will give the Indians a chance for a different outcome this time.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.