By Brad Morris
Terry Holbert is the first to admit that football coaches can have a tendency to overcomplicate the game.
“The first and only thing I put on the top of our play sheet for Teays Valley is playmakers,” the Logan Elm coach said. “Sometimes as coaches, we have a tendency to overcomplicate things and can try to outthink ourselves.
“If we wanted to be successful and beat Teays Valley, then we had to get the ball into the hands of our playmakers. We have several playmakers on our team and tonight Braylen Baker played like a young man on a mission.”
The Logan Elm senior was more than just a playmaker. He was unstoppable.
Baker hauled in three touchdown passes and came away with an interception on Friday, leading the Braves to a 34-17 Mid-State League Buckeye Division win over the visiting Teays Valley Vikings.
“We had a good week of practice and a great game plan,” Baker said. “Teays Valley is a young team, but they still have some pretty good players. We thought that we had some one-on-one matchups that we could take advantage of.”
The Braves (8-2, 6-1) wrapped up their first Pickaway County championship since 2014, which is also the last time that they defeated the Vikings (5-5, 4-3). Logan Elm also secured a first-round home playoff game in Division IV, Region 15 next Friday, according to joeeitel.com.
“It’s been a while since Logan Elm won the county and earned the opportunity to host a playoff game,” Baker said. “I know it’s going to be special for us seniors and the rest of the team to have another home game next week.”
Logan Elm outgained Teays Valley 352-174 and forced the normally run-first Vikings into 31 pass attempts and a pair of interceptions that were made during the second half by Baker and Landon Thompson.
“Our defense has been tremendous all season and they rose to the challenge again tonight, despite being put into a couple of tough situations,” Holbert said. “That’s probably the most passes that we’ve had to defend in a game all season and our secondary rose to the challenge and overall did a pretty good job.”
Thompson, Nolan Brumfield, Ian Roese and Camden Redd combined to sack Teays Valley quarterback Kaden Hines four times. Drew Tomlinson and Carson Summers paced the defense with four tackles apiece.
“We made some adjustments during practice this week and kept up tonight with all the different formations that Teays Valley uses,” Brumfield said. “After the first quarter, I felt like we really zoned in, we started getting around them more to put pressure on the quarterback and we started to wear them down a little bit.”
Brumfield recovered a fumble to end the Vikings first possession of the game and give the Braves the football on their own 46-yard line.
“I was just at the right place at the right time, but that helped to get us going early,” Brumfield said.
The Braves used eight plays to cover 54 yards, capped by a four-yard touchdown run around the left side by Blayton Reid. The first of four extra points by Owen Elswick gave the Braves a 7-0 lead.
Brumfield recovered a fumbled punt early in the second quarter to give the Braves great field possession on the Vikings’ 28-yard line.
Aaron Walters connected with Baker three plays later on a 32-yard touchdown pass on a flag route, which doubled the Braves’ lead to 14-0.
Teays Valley finally reached the scoreboard when Cale Clifton capped a 44-yard drive with a 17-yard field goal to make it 14-3.
Baker was then the primary power source of a five-play drive that covered 69 yards for the Braves.
He caught a screen pass from Walters and made a pair of defenders miss for a 27-yard gain. Baker then caught another pass in the flat and made another three defenders miss as he scored from 40 yards out.
“That wasn’t all me,” Baker said. “I had some good blocks on those short passes from Carson Summers and Blayton Reid for starters that gave me some room to work.”
Teays Valley narrowed the score to 21-10 going into halftime on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Hines to Trent Wolpert.
The Braves needed just four plays to score opening up the second half when a wide-open Baker hauled in a 64-yard touchdown pass from Walters.
Teays Valley turned to its defense for an eventual response when Cavin McDowell intercepted a pass and returned it to the Braves’ one-yard line. Brody Bailey took the pigskin in from there to trim the Braves’ lead to 28-17 with 7:53 left in the third quarter.
The Braves put away the county championship with a massive 18-play drive that covered 69 yards and drained seven minutes and 19 seconds off the clock.
Logan Elm converted a third-and-nine on a 10-yard pass from Walters to Baker and later moved the chains when Walters evaded pressure on fourth-and-seven and connected with Keegan Diehl on an 11-yard completion.
Thompson capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown run around left side to put the Braves ahead 34-17 with 8:55 remaining.
Walters was 12 of 22 passing for 228 yards. Baker hauled in all three touchdown passes and had four receptions for 163 yards.
Reid paced the Braves on the ground with 90 hard-fought yards on 30 carries and a touchdown.
“Aaron did a nice job of recognizing that Braylen had some good matchups that we wanted to use, but he also did a nice job of mixing the football around so Teays Valley couldn’t just concentrate on Braylen,” Holbert said. “Our run was successful for us early and then later in the game with Blayton and Landon picking up some big yards in key situations.”
The Vikings were held to just three yards rushing and had to take to the air early after falling behind.
Hines completed 16 of 31 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown. Wolpert caught the touchdown pass on his way to six receptions for 72 yards and Harrison Payne added five grabs for 53 yards.
The Braves now prepare for their first home playoff game (excluding the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic season when they were 3-3 at the time and defeated Lakewood 48-0) since 2009 when the Cambridge Bobcats (7-3) travel to the Pickaway Plains.
Brumfield and the rest of the senior class walked across the field after the game, knowing that they’ll get to play at home one more time as Braves.
“It means a lot to get to play here again next week,” Brumfield said. “We’re a group of brothers out there and we just really enjoy playing together.”
Logan Elm 34,
Teays Valley 17
Score By Quarters 1 2 3 4 F
Teays Valley 0 10 7 0 17
Logan Elm 7 14 7 6 34
LE — Blayton Reid 4 run (Owen Elswick kick), 8:25.
LE — Braylen Baker 32 pass from Aaron Walters (Owen Elswick kick), 9:48.
TV — Cale Clifton 17 field goal, 4:26.
LE — Braylen Baker 40 pass from Aaron Walters (Owen Elswick kick), 2:03.
TV — Trent Wolpert 34 pass from Kaden Hines (Cale Clifton kick), 0:43.
LE — Braylen Baker 64 pass from Aaron Walters (Owen Elswick kick), 10:13.
TV — Brody Bailey 1 run (Cale Clifton kick), 7:57.
LE — Landon Thompson 1 run (kick blocked), 8:55.
First downs 10 21
Rushing yards 17-3 44-124
Passing yards 171 228
Comp.-Att.-Int 16-31-2 12-22-1
Total yards 174 352
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 0-0
Penalties-Yards 4-30 7-70
Punts-Ave. 2-45.5 4-22.8
RUSHING – Teays Valley — Gavin Karshner 5-15, Ethan Schwalbauch 5-18, Kaden Hines 6-(-31), Brody Bailey 1-1. Logan Elm — Blayton Reid 30-90, Landon Thompson 7-25, Drew Tomlinson 1-5, Aaron Walters 6-4.
PASSING – Teays Valley — Kaden Hines 16-31-2-171. Logan Elm — Aaron Walters 12-22-1-228.
RECEIVING – Teays Valley — Harrison Payne 5-53, Trent Wolpert 6-72, Gavin Sparks 3-30, Jeremiah Fabbro 1-16, Kole Nungester 1-0. Logan Elm — Braylen Baker 4-163, Blayton Reid 1-24, Carson Summers 3-16, Keegan Diehl 2-14, Camden Redd 1-11, Landon Thompson 1-0.
Copyright 2022 SportingPumpkin.com. Any unauthorized republication of content on this website is prohibited by law.