OXFORD — Declan Hitte saw it all come together Friday night.
“We started playing for each other instead of playing as individuals,” the Edgewood High School senior center said. “We all worked really hard. Our first four games showed us what we really needed to work on, and because of that, we found out exactly what we needed to do.”
Hitte helped anchor an offense that finally exploded with 349 total yards of offense, 21 first downs and six touchdowns in a 51-7 rout of host Talawanda.
The Cougars (1-3) notched their first win of the season after losing a tough stretch of games against Milford, Clinton-Massie and Badin.
“That’s the thing, in those losses the boys were hooked up, tuned up and ready,” said Edgewood coach Scott Clemmons, who noted that his squad is adjusting to some injury adversity. “It’s the saying you always say at college and the pros — ‘Next man up.’ They’ve got a lot of dudes. Our injuries at our size and at our level, they can hurt. It takes a while to get through them. The stuff that we did and the movements that we’ve made to get guys in position, it’s paying dividends right now for us.”
Three Cougars running backs found the end zone on Friday night, including two touchdowns runs from senior Clay Halsey, two from sophomore Kyle Franke and another from sophomore Miller Fall. Franke finished with 82 yards rushing, Fall with 59 and Halsey 57.
Edgewood junior quarterback Ryan French threw for 84 yards on 4 of 7 passes and two touchdowns. Junior Isaac Rosenfelder caught one of the TD passes and Fall snagged the other.
The Cougars were outscored 126-21 in the three losses, including 42-14 last week against Badin.
“It’s been a combination of things,” Clemmons said. “With that Badin game, in the first half, the way we played, some of the boys started to understand how good they can be. We just had some moments in that game where we didn’t do well.
“We got after it this week. This week of practice we got after it big time, kept working hard and competing with each other. It showed when we played the game tonight.”
Talawanda (0-4) is still searching for any sort of momentum. Brave first-year coach Andy Stuckert said he saw plenty of positives on Friday, but the ability to follow through has been a struggle for his youthful program.
“We always have glimpses of what we can be every week,” Stuckert said. “At some point, we’ve got to show up and play 11 on offense and 11 on defense — and it be complimentary.
“I’ll never be the one to blame the kids, man,” Stuckert added. “And I’ll take that squarely on me. We just have to figure out a way to not get ourselves in certain positions. We’ve adjusted a lot of our stuff already to make sure that we put the kids in the best position. But we’re still clearly not doing a good enough job of that.”
Talawanda junior quarterback Cale Leitch led all rushers with 126 yards on 15 carries and scored on a 77-yard touchdown run just before the half.
Edgewood was able to milk most of the running clock in the second half.
“These first four games were basically to see what we could work on,” Hitte said. “This was to see what we need to focus on. The first three losses really showed us that we need to focus on being together. We were all kind of playing for ourselves, and we all kind of came together tonight as it showed. We did really good because of that.”