West was leading 7-3 in the fourth quarter and needed just one more stop to advance to state. A stingy defense that already had stopped the Bombers twice in red zone opportunities couldn’t close it out, as quarterback Brogan McCaughey, now a senior, found a receiver in the back left corner of the end zone on a fade for a 17-yard touchdown with 27 seconds left. St. X went on to win the Division I state title.
The regular-season opener wasn’t as close That’s the one the Firebirds still have in mind going into Friday. West took a 14-3 lead midway through the second quarter but gave up four unanswered touchdowns and lost 31-14.
“What you learn when you play them, they are obviously a well-coached team that is very disciplined, so you can’t make mistakes” Bolden said. “We had some very costly turnovers the first game, so you can’t do that offensively, and defensively, their offense just does so much. They’ve got those disciplined kids that can do a lot. Coach (Andrew) Coverdale, their offensive coordinator, does a great job with matchups so we have to make plays defensively. It’s one of those things when you play them, they are so good at what they do, you don’t learn anything new. You just have to avoid mistakes, play disciplined, stick to assignments and be at your best.”
Few teams are at their best in Week 1. The Firebirds sure weren’t, and Bolden has seen much improvement since then, especially with players getting healthy and the offense maturing.
Quarterback Mitch Bolden led the Greater Miami Conference with 1,707 yards passing, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions – two that came in the opener. He also adds 581 yards rushing. Cameron Goode, who was held to seven yards rushing in Week 1, bounced back with 867 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns over the next 10 games, and the defense hasn’t allowed more than 17 points in any game since then.
“You get better each week,” coach Bolden said. “That’s the plan in any sport. I think we’ve done that and put ourselves in position we don’t have as many mistakes like that. Hopefully we’ve come far enough we won’t, but they play aggressive and sometimes you make mistakes against teams like that, so hopefully if we do, we can overcome it.”
McCaughey has thrown for 2,592 yards and 31 touchdowns with two interceptions this season against a mixed schedule of competition that included close losses to Cleveland St. Ignatius and LouisvilleTrinity (Ky.). Charles Kellom added 1,322 yards rushing and 23 touchdowns.
Both teams are coming off lopsided wins last week. West beat Milford 49-14 and St. X topped Elder 42-7. The Firebirds are glad to get another chance against the Bombers, and Bolden is confident they are in a better spot now with better communication on defense and the offense making plays.
“It means everything,” Bolden said. “They are crazy motivated. We were pretty banged up and lost our best receiver after the first series that game. We had some guys defensively missing that are healthy now so there’s still a bad taste in our mouths from that first game. We know we didn’t play our best game, so the guys are crazy motivated for (Friday) night.”
»Edgewood (9-2) will play Piqua (11-0) in a Division II, Region 8 semifinal Friday at Heidkamp Stadium in Huber Heights. Piqua edged Withrow, 17-13, last week while the Cougars rolled to a 52-15 win over Riverside Stebbins. Edgewood is looking for its 10th straight win and hasn’t scored fewer than 34 points in any game during its current streak.
»Badin (11-0) faces St. Marys Memorial (10-2) in a Division III, Region 12 semifinal Friday at Trotwood’s Miami Valley Hospital SportsPlex. The Rams are coming off a second straight shutout, beating Lima Shawnee 17-0 last week, while St. Mary’s Memorial edged Chaminade Julienne 24-21. Badin beat Chaminade 45-28 this season.