Weekly Preview: Sidney's Athleticism Poses As Challenge

St. Marys’ Dylan Trogdlon will be a new addition to the Roughriders varsity secondary this season. He along with his teammates will have to face an athletic Sidney receiving corp.
Sports Editor

The St. Marys Roughriders will be making their final trip to Sidney Memorial Stadium on Friday to open the 2019 season against the Yellow Jackets.

“I don’t like it,” Roughriders coach Doug Frye bluntly said. “I think it has been a great rivalry and it has a great tradition that has brought great crowds. We would have liked to have seen it continue.”

Both teams will conclude the long standing non-league rivalry that spans as far back as 1912, according to the St. Marys Roughriders football history page.

The two teams have played each other every year since 2009 and every year dating back to 1983 — with a two-year hiatus in between in 2007 and 2008.

The Roughriders will own the all-time series record, which currently stands at 35-25-4, 18-2 at home and 12-8 away.

Sidney is opening the 2019 season in the revitalized Miami Valley League. The Yellow Jackets and nine other schools left the Greater Western Ohio Conference to restart the MVL. 

With the change in conference, teams in the MVL will play nine league games and one non-league contest — much like the Western Buckeye League. With that, Sidney had to choose between St. Marys or its other non-league team, Bellefontaine.

The Yellow Jackets choose the Chieftains and will resume playing them past this season — and dropping the Roughriders from their schedule after 2019.

The Yellow Jackets’ goal in 2019 is to win the inaugural MVL South title and they will have 13 letterwinners to help them accomplish that goal.

“When you talk about Sidney, it is the same every year; they are athletic,” Frye said. “There is never a lack of athletes at Sidney and Adam [Doenges] and his staff have done a tremendous job of getting in the weight room in the offseason and working with the kids. Their program has come a long, long way.”

Sidney — who finished 5-5 last season (2-3) in the American North GWOC) — returns starting quarterback Ryan Dunham, who was fifth in the Greater Western Ohio Conference in passing with 1,480 yards on 116-of-221 passing, 14 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.

In last season’s matchup against the Roughriders, Sidney mustered just 172 total yards of offense and just 80 through the air and Dunham had three interceptions. 

The Yellow Jackets’ strength is their skill players, specifically at receiver, and the years of experience that they return.

Starting linebacker Ryan Cagle, along with receiver and defesive back Darren Taborn, are entering their fourth year at varsity while Dunham and two other players are among returning multiple-year letterwinners for the Yellow Jackets.

Taborn — who has received offers from Youngstown State and Grad Valley State this summer — had 18 receptions for 273 yards and three touchdowns last season, despite being a non-factor against the Roughriders in last season’s opener. 

As a defensive back, Taborn recorded 27 tackles and had five interceptions, three of them in a 16-10 win against Tippecanoe on Oct. 5. Taborn is also a dangerous return man for the Yellow Jackets with his 266 yards (26.6 average) on 10 kickoff returns and a touchdown.

“They are athletic and that is always a concern in the opening game because those athletes can make plays right away,” Frye said of Sidney. “Some of their young athletes are as skilled as I have seen since the [Andre] Gordon and [Isaiah] Bowser days.”

The most dangerous offensive player is sophomore Quamir “Philly” Brown. Last season, Brown has 23 rushes for 195 yards and two scores and 17 receptions for 148 yards and a touchdown, but Brown bursts on the scene in a squad scrimmage earlier this year when he scored four touchdowns against Edgewood and Clinton-Massie.

Brown and Taborn could present a problem for a secondary that lost two All-Ohio selections to graduation last year in Sean Perry and Carter Ballweg, as well as All-Western Buckeye League selection Braeden Dunlap.

“Speed, that is what jumps at you with Philly Brown, Taborn and all of their skilled guys,” Frye added. “They are big on the offensive too so that factors jump out at you.”

Frye added that he has a lot of “newbies” in key positions and the staff has spent a lot of time getting those players more familiar at the varsity level.

“How quickly they catch on will be key to our success,” the coach said.

Sidney has multiple returning starters in all position groups except for running back, which will likely be the most interesting position battle of preseason. The Yellow Jackets will be looking to replace Caleb Harris at the position. Harris, who was also a starting defensive back last year, ran for 1,083 yards and nine touchdowns.

Sophomore running back EJ Davis looks to be the leader to get most carries this year, though several other players are in contention. Davis ran 36 times for 143 yards and a score.

“We can’t give up big plays,” Frye said. “Part of that will go toward our offense on how well we play with ball control and how well we take care of the football. The next thing will be the play of our special teams. You work on your special teams in the scrimmages, but you don’t really see the full extent of those until the regular season.”

Frye pointed out that the Yellow Jackets played a tough scrimmage schedule in Beavercreek as well as a squad scrimmage against Division I Milford, Division II Edgewood and Division IV Clinton-Massie — all were playoff teams last year — before concluding the summer against Division III Chaminade-Julienne in what ended up being a 33-14 loss. St. Marys played just one 7-on-7 practice this summer and hosted Division I Findlay and traveled to Bellefontaine. Frye added that it will be different for his team to be on the road. Bellefontaine was the first road game his team has experienced this year and the team will have to adjust to that the next three weeks. 

“You always like to have a little bit more time with your team, it’s good to have that, but I think our kids progressed and they have worked hard,” Frye said. “We have had two good  competitive scrimmages. Am I happy totally? No, as a head coach, I don’t think you are ever satisfied.”


 • Dylan Trogdlon’s first start at QB 

Moved to the position around the Fourth of July, Trogdlon beat out senior Kurt Bubp for the job, a position Bubp has been in since he was a freshman. There were some ups and downs for Trogdlon in his two scrimmages over the summer, but the junior brings athleticism and has a good arm. 

“We tried to do a lot more with him during the scrimmages than we would normally do with a new quarterback to get him the experience he needs,” Roughriders coach Doug Frye said. “He generally does not repeat mistakes.” 

• St. Marys’ secondary vs. Sidney’s receivers 

The Roughriders are replacing three key players in the secondary, especially two All-Ohio selections in Carter Ballweg and Sean Perry. With a new infusion of Ty and Tanner Howell, Ethan Wedding, Carson Fischbach and Dylan Roby, it will be interesting to see how the Roughriders fare against the Yellow Jackets’ receivers — specifically Quamir “Philly” Brown and Darren Taborn — with returning starter Ryan Dunham at quarterback. 

• Turnover bug 

Since Frye returned to St. Marys in 2014, there has been a major emphasis on creating turnovers and taking care of the football. However, neither of those things have happened this summer for the Roughriders. The Riders turned the ball over five times during the varsity and junior varsity portions of the two scrimmages — all fumbles — and the Roughriders have not taken the ball away in the two games against Findlay and Bellefontaine. 

Trick plays 

In three of the last four meetings, St. Marys has used a trick play to throw Sidney off guard and in two of those three occasions, those trick plays led to Rider victories. 

In 2015, Frye threw a hook-and-ladder play at the Yellow Jackets when Dustin Howell threw a pass to Seth Vorhees, who lateraled it to Eric Spicer to give St. Marys an early lead. Not necessarily a trick play, but in their 2017 meeting, St. Marys scored on a pair of play-action touchdown passes from Colin Clements to Braeden Dunlap in a 39-32 thrilling loss for St. Marys. 

Last season, however, Frye pulled out a trick play he wanted to use in 2017 when Ty Howell got the reverse handoff, flushed out to his left to find an open Carter Ballweg with the senior torquing his body to catch the under-thrown pass for the touchdown to break up a then-14-7 game into a 35-7 rout.