By Rob Kiser
It wouldn’t have been ‘Bill Nees Night’ Friday night if the Piqua football coach didn’t put his stamp on the win over Xenia at Alexander Stadium/Purk Field Friday night.
And after being presented with a plaque for 25 years of coaching by 1992 football captains Matt Finkes and Scott Buecker before the game, Nees did exactly that.
First, and foremost, there were the halftime adjustments.
After Xenia did not use the punter in the opening half and Piqua struggled at times offensively, the Indians found themselves in a 14-14 tie.
In reality, with the exception of one big run by Xenia’s Sincere Wells, the second half was all Piqua.
The Indians rolled up over 200 yards of offense in the final two quarters to Xenia’s 138, with almost half of that coming on one big run by Wells.
“Really, the defense was fine at halftime,” Nees said in downplaying the change. “The offense, we were doing some different things and it wasn’t working that well, so we went back to what we had been doing before.”
Those who played for Nees will tell you there is no detail he doesn’t miss in preparing for a game.
And that was on display after a Piqua TD gave the Indians a 27-14 lead early in the fourth quarter.
He clearly had spotted something in Xenia’s rushing of the PAT. So, it was no surprise, on a designed play, when holder Mick Karn took the snap and ran around the left side untouched for a two-point PAT to make it 29-14.
Then, on Xenia’s next score, it was almost like Nees willed the Buccs into a missed PAT. First, there was an illegal procedure, than a missed PAT to keep the score at 29-20 with just over seven minutes to go, a two-score difference.
“Yes, that was a play we used to run in high school,” Nees jokingly said about Karn’s two-point run. “Those were two big plays to keep us up by two scores.”
Wow: That’s all you can say about some of the moves Ben Schmiesing made to get in the end zone for Piqua’s first score on a fourth-and goal from the 11. Schmiesing caught a short pass from quarterback Austin Davis and appeared to be surrounded by Xenia tacklers near the 10. Schmiesing eluded all of them and Xenia actually knocked him into the end zone from about the three-yard line, with the help of momentum from a couple spin moves.
Playmaker: Put the ball in senior Hayden Schrubb’s hands and good things will happen. He had three receptions — all for touchdowns — and 100 yards and one interception, with a 33-yard return.
His final touchdown came on a 43-yard pass, after he and Davis had just missed connecting on the same play the play before.
“How often do you see that?” Nees said. “You run the same play again and the receiver comes wide open.”
Line Takes Over: The Piqua offensive line took control of the game in the second half, blowing open big holes for Schmiesing and Devon Brown. After having 21 yards in the first half, the Indians finished with 134.
Schmiesing had 68 on 12 carries and Devon Brown had 56 on 14 carries.
No better example was the drive which Piqua put the game away, running the ball on sixstraight plays, despite facing a second-and-18 after the first play on the drive due to a holding penalty.
Brown had a 21-yard run on second-and-10 to get the initial first down and Schmiesing finished off the drive — and the game — with a 17-yard TD run.
“The offensive line, just came out and did a great job,” Schmiesing said.
Shoring Up Middle: Wells consistently ran for three and four yards up the middle in the first half. That didn’t happen in the final two quarters and changed the game for the Xenia offense.
“We need we had to be firing in there,” Schmiesing said. “Also, we rotated four defensive tackles in the second half to keep them fresh. I think that was a big difference.”
Schmiesing had 13 tackles and fellow linebacker Karn had 11. Linebacker James Congdon and defensive tackle Brennan Toopes had seven, while defensive tackle Lance Reaves added six.
Little Yellow: After being plagued by penalties the last two games, Piqua shored up that area. The holding penalty before the Indians final touchdown was their only penalty in the game.
On To Sidney: Now comes one of the biggest Piqua-Sidney games in recent memory.
The Yellow Jackets come in 5-0 and the “Battered Helmet” will be on the line, as well as a point in the All-Sports competition between the two schools when the two meet Friday at Alexander Stadium/Purk Field.
“It should be a great game,” Davis said. “They come in 5-0 — we had the potential to be 5-0, with a couple tough losses. I am looking forward to it.”
And a chance for Nees to add one more stamp to his success as Piqua football coach.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.