By Rob Kiser
The Piqua football team will have its first live action in a 10 a.m. scrimmage with Tecumseh Aug. 11, the first of three home scrimmages.
That will be followed by 7 p.m. scrimmages Aug. 14 with Xenia and Aug. 21 with Springboro.
But, for those who can’t wait, here is a recap of last season when the Indians finished 5-5.
Piqua 42, St. Johns 21
On a night when Piqua honored its five former NFL players — Craig Clemons, Matt Finkes Dave Gallagher, Quinn Pitcock and Brandon Saine — the season opener was a tale of two halves.
With 2:55 remaining in the first half, the Indians had been outgained 236-51 and trailed the Titans 14-0.
From that point on, Piqua turned the tables with a 352-100 advantage in yardage.
It was a case of Trent Yeomans and the offensive line taking over, with the defense rising to the occasion.
Yeomans finished the game with 206 yards on 23 carries, with touchdown runs of 53 and 32 yards in the second half.
Receiver Tate Honeycutt ignited the team with his catch and run on a 35-yard TD pass, while the defense had a big goal-line stand to swing the momentum.
Quarterback Rupert Delacruz and running back Darien Tipps-Clemons combining for 139 yards on 18 carries.
Piqua 41, Urbana 23
URBANA —In the most memorable game of the season, Piqua again had a strong showing from the defense in the second half and the offense once again put 40-plus points on the board.
After the Urbana offense had a lot of success with highly touted quarterback Nathan Mays in the first half, the Piqua defense tossed a shutout in the second half, with Ben Sowery and Dylan Runge combining for four sacks.
Yeomans had another amazing game running the ball, with 293 yards on 22 carries and three touchdowns.
Sophomore tight end Nathan Monnin had his first varsity catch go for 37 yards and he finished with three catches for 88 yards.
But, the game will go do down in history — as the night Bill Nees became Piqua’s all-time winningest coach.
With the win, Nees record became 166-80, breaking the tie with George Wertz — who had 165.
During his time at Piqua, Nees has rolled up seven seasons of double-digit wins, coached Piqua to its ony two trips to the state title game, winning in 2006 and owns an impressive 17-7 postseason record.
But, nothing could have been better than his son Alex, a junior safety, be part of a defense that shutout Urbana in the second half in the record win.
An it was fitting that a move few coaches would make delivered the final blow to Urbana.
With Piqua leading 28-23, the Indians ran a fake punt from their own 15.
The resulting 85-yard run by Yeomans gave Piqua a 35-23 lead and sent them on the way to the team’s first 2-0 start in 15 years.
Nees played it off in his own humble way — as he always does.
“It just felt like we needed to keep the ball there,” Nees said. “It just felt like the right decision at the time. And with Trent (Yeomans) running the ball and the blockers we had in front of him, it really wasn’t that big of a gamble.”
Lima Senior 62, Piqua 2o
Yeomans led the Piqua offense with 162 yards on 21 carries, but the Indians were hurt by a fumble and three interceptions and the Indians couldn’t stop an explosive Spartan offense
Northmont 31, Piqua 24
Piqua trailed the T-Bolts 17-14 and had tied it at 17 early in the second half to fall to 2-2.
The Indians nearly tied the game midway through the fourth quarter, before turning the ball over on downs inside the T-Bolt 20.
Quarterback Rupert Delacruz completed 17 of 24 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns in his best game of the year, while Yeomans had 94 yards rushing, 42 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
Piqua 28, Fairborn 14
The Indians got back on track, breaking a 14-14 deadlock against Fairborn and pulling away to a 28-14 victory on the road.
One play after a Sowery fumble recovery, Delacruz hooked up with Yeomans on a wheel route for a 35-yard TD to give Piqua the lead for good.
“We just needed a spark,” Bill Nees said.
Delacruz added a six-yard TD pass to Monnin, while Yeomans had 142 yards rushing, 74 receiving and two TDs.
Honeycutt had a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to get Piqua on the board.
Vandalia-Butler 28, Piqua 21
The GWOC North opener on the road had to go down as one of the most heartbreaking losses in recent memory for the Indians.
Piqua was leading 21-14 and was in control against the Aviators when the Indians became their own worst enemy.
A bad snap on a punt gave Vandalia the ball on the Piqua five and allowed the Aviators to tie the game.
Even worse was the Indians final two possessions.
After Vandalia touchdowns, Honeycutt returned kickoffs across midfield, only to have Piqua fumble on the first play of both possessions.
To make matters worse, Yeomans was injured in the game and would miss the next game with Greenville.
Greenville 28, Piqua 21
Playing without Yeomans, the Indians got in a 14-point hole in the second half and couldn’t recover.
Piqua, who never led in the game, trailed 21-14 at the break.
Trailing 28-14 late, Colton Bachman caught a six-yard TD pass from Delacruz to get within 28-21.
The Indians got the ball back, but turned it over on downs.
Darien Tipps-Clemons rushed for 129 yards on 19 carries, while Bachman had six receptions for 63 yards.
Trotwood-Madsion 43, Piqua 13
The game started as bad as possible for Piqua, as the Indians dropped their straight GWOC North game.
As improbable as it may sound, the Rams led at halftime 26-0 without the offense scoring.
Trotwood’s touchdowns came on a kickoff return, two fumble returns and an interception return.
Piqua trailed 26-0 at halftime despite shutting out the Rams offense and went on to lose 43-13.
Piqua scored on a leaping catch by Honeycutt from 12 yards out and and a Tipps-Clemons run.
Tipps-Clemons and Yeomans combined for 116 yards rushing.
Piqua 42, Sidney 7
In the first of two rivalry games to finish the season, Piqua maintained possession of the “Battered Helmet” with an easy win over Sidney.
“This was a good win for us,” Honeycutt said. “It just felt good.”
The Indians used a fast start — with a 21-point first quarter and put the game away in the second half — when Honeycutt established a new career receiving yards record at Piqua.
Honeycutt now has 72 catches for 1,269 yards, breaking Austin Netzley’s record of 1,236 yards.
“It is nice to get the record,” Honeycutt said. “I need to thank Rupert (Delacruz), Dan (Monnin) and Justice (Young) for throwing me the ball and all my teammates that have helped me get the record.”
It was night where Yeomans looked like his old self after suffering a knee injury three weeks ago.
He rushed for 203 yards on 15 carries, while Tipps-Clemons complimented him with 143 yards on 11 carries.
With Piqua leading 21-7 early in the second half, Tipps-Clemons ripped off a 71 yard TD run, before Honeycutt had his record setting reception on a 40-yard pass.
Piqua 41, Troy 10
Finishing the season with a win over Troy is never a bad thing.
And as Yeomans stood near midfield at Alexander Stadium/Purk Field with the MVP trophy from the Great American Rivalry Series after Piqua’s 41-10 romp, he was still taking it all in.
“It is kind of surreal,” Yeomans, who rushed for more than 3,000 yards in his final two seasons, said about having played in his final high school game. “Really, it is all you could ask for (the way it ended).
On a bad-weather night, the Piqua running game with Yeomans and Tipps-Clemons was in high gear as the Indians evened the storied series at 62-62-6.
Piqua finishes 5-5 overall and 2-3 in the GWOC North, while Troy closes 1-9 overall and 1-4 in the GWOC North.
Yeomans and Tipps-Clemons were unstoppable from the start, combining for 299 yards rushing.
Yeomans had 173 yards on 23 carries, scoring three touchdowns, while Tipps-Clemons rushed for 126 yards on 15 carries, with two touchdowns.
“This was my final game with Trent (Yeomans),” Tipps-Clemons said. “We had to do it. It just feels great. I am going to miss him, but it was great to have a game like this.”
Both backs had TD runs of more than 50 yards in the second half as Piqua pulled away from a 14-3 halftime margin on a windy night and celebrated its third straight win over the Trojans.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.