NEW MADISON – The Tri-Village Patriots earned a 35-0 OHSAA D-VI first-round win over the neighboring National Trail Blazers to advance in the playoffs.
“I thought we played really well in all three phases,” said Tri-Village coach, Matt Hopkins. “We put a complete game together. I was really pleased with how we played as a unit tonight.”
“That’s the best thing,” Hopkins added about the win. “We get one more week with our guys, especially the seniors.”
The Patriots dented the board with a 5-yard Braden Keating touchdown run at 10:12 in the opening quarter. Keating split the uprights out of the hold of Trey Sagester giving Tri-Village an early 7-0 lead.
Tri-Village made it a 14-0 game with Keating calling his own number for a 1-yard TD run with 7:00 showing on the first quarter board and Keating hitting the PAT kick giving the home team a 14-0 advantage.
Reed Wehr extended the Patriots lead to 20-0 with a 3-yard touchdown run and with Keating hitting the PAT kick Tri-Village was leading 21-0 with 11:15 on the second quarter clock.
Keating’s line drive kickoff drilled a Trail player in the back with the Patriots covering the loose ball for an “onside kick” at 10:57 giving Tri-Village possession at midfield with 10:57 to play in the second quarter.
A Keating to Sagester 36-yard touchdown reception gave the sophomore receiver his first career varsity touchdown at 8:14 in the second quarter followed by Keating making good on the PAT kick out of the hold of Sagester upping the Patriots’ first-half lead to 28-0.
“We joked around with him,” Hopkins said of his sophomore receiver. “We said he must have started on fantasy tonight because he had a heck of a game. It was good to see. He’s one of those kids – he’s become a two-way starter for us most of the year and he just kept grinding and he has been really, really good.”
With 2:30 on the first half clock, Sagester intercepted a Trail pass at the Blazers 27-yard line setting up the Patriot sophomore’s second TD of the night, a 3-yard pass reception from Keating with 0:33.1 remaining on the second quarter clock.
“Oh my-gosh … he weighs 110 pounds with his pads on but he’s not afraid to stick his nose in there,” Coach Hopkins said of Sagester. “He’s on kick-off, he’ll come downhill on sweeps and things like that – he’s a tough bird.”
The kicking team of Keating and Sagester stayed perfect on the night with Keating once again splitting the uprights out of the hold of Sagester sending the teams to the halftime break with Tri-Village holding a commanding 35-0 lead setting up a second-half running game clock.
With the game in hand and time quickly winding down in second-half play, the Patriots’ defense took advantage of a Mason Weathington interception at 7:51 in the third quarter, and with the Blazers advancing to the Red Zone late in the game, the Tri-Village defense held on fourth and two at the 11-yard line with 00:37 remaining in the game to secure the shutout victory.
“They were nasty tonight,” Coach Hopkins said of his Patriots’ defensive game. “We’re not very big but we’re quick, we’re mean and we fly to the football. We have to do a better job of finishing tackles but I am really happy with where we are at.”
Tri-Village closed out the game taking a knee to run out the game clock giving the Patriots an impressive 35-0 first-round win and advance in 2023-2024 OHSAA tournament play.
“I was really happy with how we played,” Coach Hopkins stated. “We talked about playing to the edge but knowing where that edge is and playing right up to it – and these guys responded. We talked about everything has to be turned up a notch during the playoffs and these guys just did it.”
The No. 5 seed Patriots travel to West Liberty, Friday, November 3 with a 7 p.m. game time to take on the No. 4 West Liberty-Salem Tigers 47-7 winners over No. 13 seed Lucasville Valley.
“We’re looking at West Liberty-Salem and they’re going to be good,” Hopkins said. “In the round of 32, everybody is good. We have to go on the road and we have to be road warriors from here on out. We don’t get the friendly confines of Patriot Field but we have to make somebody else’s home our home”