Hamilton holds off Sycamore, takes another step toward playoffs

Hamilton High School football coach Nate Mahon is in constant motion.

Since taking the job at his alma mater at the beginning of July, Mahon has been going from one thing to the next to rebuild the Big Blue.

Friday night, he decided to take a minute and step back.

After his defense stuffed Sycamore four times from the Hamilton 14-yard line in the final minute of the game, Mahon ran to midfield and took in the scene after his squad’s 14-7 win. Players and coaches hugged and high-fived and students stormed the field.

“I had to tell myself to stop and look around,” Mahon said after Hamilton improved to 5-4. “It was fun to see. I was just looking around a lot.”

The win marks the first time Hamilton has entered the final week with five wins since 2016.

More importantly, the win moves the Big Blue to seventh in Division I, Region 4 computer ratings, according to joeeitel.com. The top eight in teach region advance to the playoffs. Hamilton can clinch a playoff berth next Friday night with a win at Lakota East. The Thunderhawks (4-5) lost to Colerain 34-3 on Friday night.

Big Blue’s win over the Aviators came through a balanced effort.

Hamilton had 211 yards, split almost in half between the passing of Quincy Simms-Marshall (6 of 12 for 97 yards) and a rushing attack that churned out 114 yards on 27 carries led by Kaleb Johnson’s 73 yards on 13 carries.

The defense allowed 281 yards but never broke against an Aves offense that entered the contest averaging 21 points.

“This was a team win,” Mahon said. “I don’t have a lot of words. I told them my heart is full. I was just impressed with the team and the coaches. They surprised the heck out of me.”

Hamilton wasted no time getting on the board, scoring on the fourth play of the game on a 27-yard run by Johnson.

After the defense forced a missed field goal by the Aves, the offense had their lone misfire of the night, fumbling on their own 15, leading to Sycamore’s lone score of the night.

Hamilton scored what turned out to be the game-winning points two possessions later when Jayden Marshall hauled in a 23-yard scoring strike from Simms-Marshall to complete an 11-play drive with 6:19 remaining in the first half.

Sycamore only seriously threatened one more time until the final stand, getting to the Hamilton 24 before missing a 40-yard field goal with 6:44 remaining in the game.

“This is unreal,” Mahon said. “When I came in, my job was to win the seniors over. We wanted to win every game and they knew the key was to play the best kids and I am proud of their accomplishments and how well we’ve gelled as a team.”

For Mahon, the key has been continuing to teach, continuing to learn and continuing to move forward.

Back-to-back losses to Mason and Colerain were filled with learning experiences that Mahon could see in a Week 8 win over Middletown.

“We have to keep on playing and that was something we hit at Mason,” Mahon said. “Against Middletown, we kept fighting. We have to learn how to handle that. You either keep fighting or you take it and these kids have kept fighting.

“We keep growing with each experience. We have to coach them through that and they have had to buy into what we are doing and they have.”

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