Riders Are In Midseason Form

Bellefontaine’s Garrett Gross (19) is swarmed by crowd of Roughriders in Lukas Walter (4), Braden Wietholter (13), Jason Taylor (98) and Sean Perry (7) in a football scrimmage on Friday.
Sports Editor

The season has not started, but the St. Marys Roughriders looked like they were in midseason form during Friday’s Chicken Bowl scrimmage against Bellefontaine at Skip Baughman Stadium with what would be a 38-11 scrimmage victory.

The Roughriders galloped out of the gate with a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Ty Howell and went up by two scores following a fourth-down stop on defense when Sean Perry scampered 71 yards on what was the Riders’ first play from scrimmage.

Braeden Dunlap opened the second quarter with a 1-yard dive and Perry struck again following a Bellfontaine field goal with a 92-yard kickoff return to make it a 28-3 game.

Gabe Vandever put the icing on the cake during the varsity portion of the scrimmage with a 23-yard field goal.

Despite the “winning” score on the board, Roughriders coach Doug Frye still saw plenty to work on before next week’s season opener against Sidney — who was in the house on Friday scouting the Riders for the last time in the foreseeable future.

Missed tackles were a key of emphasis after the game Friday. The Roughriders missed tackles resulted in a 35-yard run by Bellefontaine quarterback Grant Smith on the Chieftains’ opening drive. St. Marys also jumped offsides on that same drive, rewarding the Chieftains a first down. 

“The second thing I was displeased with was our finish on defense,” Frye said. “We need to get in better shape in order to finish better.”

The Roughriders are replacing three starters on the defensive line, with Blake Kanorr as the lone returning starter. Trey Fisher, who saw time last year as a defensive end, also returns. Kanorr and Fisher both showed flashes, as well as seniors Jason Taylor and Braden Wietholter as the foursome applied pressure on Smith early on, but there were also times where Smith was able to escape from the pocket for positive gains and keep the Chieftains’ possessions alive. Bellefontaine finished with 264 yards of total offense. Smith accounted for eight first downs and 64 yards on the ground.

Regardless, the Roughriders were more of a well-oiled machine on Friday than they were a year ago against the Chieftains in Bellefontaine — where the Riders escaped with a 25-21 comeback win.

St. Marys scored the first three times the Riders touched the ball, including scores on their first two offensive possessions. With the two kickoff returns for touchdowns, St. Marys racked up 187 special teams yards and 198 yards of total offense.

The Roughriders now turn their attention to Sidney — a team they will play for the final time after the school pulled their home and away series back in May for the 2020 season. St. Marys lost to Sidney — breaking a three-game win streak against the Yellow Jackets — 39-32 in last season’s opener. This year, however, the Yellow Jackets do not have quarterback Andre Gordon — who transferred to Huntington Prep in West Virginia.