Pilots Navigate Past Sciotoville
The Pilots wasted little time Friday night at Athens High School in picking up where they left off in their postseason opener, unleashing a barrage on both sides of the ball from the word go in steamrolling Sciotoville East, 59-8, in an Ohio Division VII postseason tilt that was over before many fans got to their seats in what was a frigid Athens County.
River (8-4) jumped out to a 26-0 first-quarter lead en route to earning a spot in next Friday’s Region 27 championship game opposite top seed Danville, which ousted Trimble 27-10. The site of the ‘Elite 8’ tussle will be announced officially Sunday by the OHSAA.
“I’ll take another one next week and I’ll really be happy,” Pilots head coach Mike Flannery said. “It was nice.
“The plan was to get up on them quick and we did. I felt really comfortable at halftime.”
Quarterback Lukas Isaly rushed for 125 yards and three touchdowns and passed for 139 yards and another score, while Drew Wagnild ran for two TDs and returned a pick for a touchdown as River outgained the Tartans (9-3) 368-133.
Isaly hit Peyton VanCamp on the game’s third play for a 47-yard TD and the Pilots were off and running, scoring on their first two possessions to take a 13-0 lead with only half the first quarter elapsed.
And when Wagnild took Brady Douthat’s interception 49 yards to the end zone later in the quarter, Pilot fans were already making plans for next Friday night. At that point, with the game at 19-0, Sciotoville East only had 12 yards of offense. It didn’t pick up a first down until the 1:41 mark of the second quarter.
Flannery said the pick-6 “put the stamp” on things and epitomized his team’s ability to hurt opponents from anywhere on the field offensively or defensively.
All told, River benefited from nine Sciotoville East miscues four interceptions, four fumbles and a muffed kickoff.
“Carter Dennis,” Flannery pointed out. “What a game from a freshman, huh? He had three interceptions.
“Our defense really stepped up. Any time you can do that against another team you should come out on top. But, it’s a group effort. Even our young guys in practice have given us good looks.”
And, many of them got to play in this high-profile encounter, as the game was in hand for the Pilots early and the second half was played with a running clock.
Isaly and Wagnild helped make that possible by combining to score three second-quarter TDs.
Isaly reached the end on runs of 20 and 31 yards, while Wagnild scampered in from four yards out.
Drew Dietz, who paced River with six receptions for 85 yards, capped the first half with a 33-yard fumble return that made the score 52-0.
Hunter Dennis capped River’s scoring in the third.
Flannery said his team’s workmanlike effort in practice paid dividends vs. the Tartans and continued to boost its “humble confidence.”
“It’s about preparation all week and they know we have all the chess pieces to make things happen,” he said. “And we can adjust. That’s the great thing about these guys, we can improvise as the game goes on and give different looks and do that.”
Kyle Flannery (no relation to the River head coach) paced the Tartans with 53 yards rushing.
Mike Flannery, meanwhile, said he’ll enjoy the win for a short time before beginning preparations for the Blue Devils.
“I’m happy, but I’m never content,” he said. “Three rungs in Lucas to get here, last week Harvest Prep, and this game. We have three more rungs and I’ll be happy. I’ll be really happy.”