by JOHN HOWLEY / sportingpumpkin.com
THORNVILLE — Circleville hung tough with top seed Sheridan for much of Friday’s playoff game, but the Tigers had mistakes at inopportune times in falling 26-0 to the Generals.
“In the big games we’ve had this season, that’s been our problem – we just haven’t been able to finish,” Circleville coach Steve Evans said. “This program took another step this year, obviously a big step, from where we’ve been.
“It’s a part of that learning experience and learning what it takes to finish. We just weren’t able to make the plays and hat’s off to them, they stepped up and made plays when they needed to.”
Sheridan struck first in the game hitting a 56-yard pass on the game’s first play and scored three plays later on a three-yard run by Reid Packer.
Circleville (5-6) came back with a six-minute drive but it came to an end with a lost fumble — one of five turnovers for the Tigers.
The Tigers were able to keep their hosts out of the end zone for much of the rest of the half but the Generals struck with 1:05 left in the second when Caden Sheridan hit AJ Winders for a nine-yard score and 14-0 halftime lead.
The score stayed there through the third quarter before Sheridan got a couple of quick scores in the fourth to seal the win.
Alex Poirier scored on a 2-yard run with 8:31 left in the game and, after an interception, Sheridan scored with 6:13 on the clock on a 29-yard run from Reid Packer. Both PAT kicks failed putting the Generals’ score at 26.
“We battled as long as we could and just ran out of gas,” Evans said.
The Tigers lose a group of seniors who fought through tough times early in their football careers but have helped get the Tigers going in the right direction.
“What they’ve done for this program, what they’ve done for Circleville football words can’t express,” Evans, finishing his second season at the helm for the Tigers, said. “From their seventh grade year through their junior year they won a total of five games. They came out this year and won five games and earned the right to play in week 11.
“That’s what I told these guys is they have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. They’re building the foundation,” he said. “Last year’s seniors put down that first level of foundation. We’re continuing to build those blocks to take this program to the next level.”
Among some of Friday’s highlights for the Tigers were a fumble recovery for Omari Graham, an interception by Parker Kidwell, a blocked field goal attempt by Angelo Travis and an interception by Nolan West. All are seniors.
Sophomore running back Jude Blair led Circleville with 52 yards on 17 carries to end the season with 998 yards on the ground.
Justin Munyan led Sheridan with 78 yards on six carries and he recovered a fumble.
Andrew Holden had 72 yards receiving on two catches and brought down an interception.
Along with catching three balls for 55 yards, Winders grabbed a pair of interceptions for the Generals.
While the season has come to an end for Circleville, Evans wants the post season experience to be a boost for the younger players as the Tigers try to build the program back to a point where making the playoffs is a yearly expectation.
“When you get an extra week of practice, it’s great for the young kids,” he said. “It’s great for the young kids to come out here and experience an environment like this and give them a taste of what it’s all about.”
Sheridan (10-1) moves on to the second round of playoffs next weekend against Washington Court House. The Blue Lions (9-2) advanced with a 61-54 win over Columbus South Friday.
Sheridan 26, Circleville 0
By Quarters 1 2 3 4 F
Circleville 0 0 0 0 0
Sheridan 7 7 0 12 26
SH — Reid Packer 3 run (Spencer Showalter kick), 9:57.
SH — AJ Winders 9 pass from Caden Sheridan (Spencer Showalter kick), 1:05.
SH — Alex Poirier 2 run (kick failed), 8:31.
SH — Reid Packer 29 run (kick failed), 6:13.
First downs 7 17
Rushing yards 31-80 34-192
Passing yards 42 164
Comp.-Att.-Int 8-21-4 8-16-2
Total yards 122 356
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-1
Penalties-Yards 8-55 7-50
Punts-Ave. 7-34 3-35
RUSHING – Circleville — Jude Blair 17-52, Scott Moats 13-30, Joe Streitenberger 1-(-2). Sheridan — Reid Packer 5-37, Alex Poirier 12-42, Justin Munyan 6-78, Coltyn Reedy 5-19, AJ Winders 1-5, Caden Sheridan 2-6, Zach Hines 2-5, Kory Holden 1-(-5).
PASSING – Circleville — Scott Moats 8-21-4-42. Sheridan — Reid Packer 5-8-0-132, Caden Sheridan 3-8-2-32.
RECEIVING – Circleville — Drew Thornsley 1-5, Joe Streitenberger 2-5, Nolan West 2-19, Omari Graham 2-9, Jack Kline 1-4. Sheridan — Andrew Holden 2-72, Thor Knapp 1-15, AJ Winders 3-55, Austin Clifton 1-12, Drew Boyer 1-10.
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