The Ross Rams held off the Talawanda Brave 34-21 on Friday night to earn its first postseason berth since 2011.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association will release the playoff pairings on Sunday, but Ross appears to be matched up against Badin in a Division III, Region 12 quarterfinal on Friday night. Ross beat Badin 20-19 in overtime in Week 1.
For a team that was 1-9 in his first season, third-year Ross coach Kenyon Commins could not be any prouder of his team’s rapid turnaround. This turnaround, however, is not a surprise to him.
“We start school at 7:20 and they’re in there watching film at 6, so that speaks volumes to the dedication these kids put in,” said Commins.
The running attack, which has been the Rams’ strength this season, again led Ross to a very productive offensive showing. Four Rams scored rushing touchdowns and tallied 368 yards.
Senior Mehki Bouldin led the Rams’ charge with 162 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries. Bouldin is coming alive right when it matters, with five touchdowns and nearly 400 yards of total offense in the last three games.
Bouldin’s second touchdown, which Commins described as a “shot from a gun”, was a 90-yard sprint to start the second quarter. The run was the longest in the Southwest Ohio Conference this season.
“You have to be unselfish,” said Commins of the team’s triple-option attack. “When he (Bouldin) gets his opportunities, man, he makes the most of them.”
Juniors Jackson Gifford and CJ Boze added touchdowns on the ground. Both finished the regular season with over 1,000 rushing yards.
On the defensive end, the Rams were able to hold Talawanda sophomore Deondre Bothast-Revalee to 51 rushing yards and forced two interceptions. Junior Casey Redemeier had both picks, which moved his season total to a SWOC-leading five interceptions.
Talawanda, which had a shot at playoff berth with a win, finished 7-3 in Larry Cox’s first year at the helm. fell to 7-3 to conclude the season. It was Talawanda’s first winning season since 1014.
“You hate that the season has to end with a game like this, but I’m really proud of these kids,” said Cox, the former Lakota West coach. “My biggest disappointment is that I won’t be able to come out here on Monday with these kids again.”
Talawanda got the game as close as 27-21, thanks to a 29-yard touchdown run by senior Terrell Wills. It would be the last time that 19 of the Brave would don their team jersey and Cox said they have changed the team’s culture and set a high standard for the future.
“We never quit fighting,” said Cox. “That’s going to be a moniker that you can expect from Talawanda football.”
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