CAMPBELL, OHIO (WKBN) – The Southern Indians earned a share of the EOAC title Saturday night with a hard-fought 37-19 victory over the Valley Christian Eagles at Campbell’s John Knapick Field. The victory improves the Indians to 5-1 on the season while the Eagles drop to 2-3.
The Indians have now either won outright or shared the title three years in a row. That is something special for both the coaches and players.
“It means three in a row we were part of something. We won it outright last year. We shared it with Columbiana and United three years ago, and now we’re sharing it with Leetonia and United. I don’t know if our school has done three in a row like that. So it will mean something later,” Indians coach Rich Wright said while clearly focused on the playoffs.
“It means quite a bit actually,” Indians senior lineman Coope Powell stated. “It feels good as a senior to win a league title.”
Senior tackle James Burris echoed the same thoughts, “It means a lot. Definitely sharing the title two out of the three years is a bummer, but it is what it is.”
The Indians got on the scoreboard first when Hunter Morris blasted in form 2-yards out to take an 8-0 lead. That score came on the final [lay of the first quarter.
But the Eagles would cut the Indians lead down to just a point when it looked like the Indians were going to go up by two touchdowns. At the Eagles 3-yard line, the Indians would fumble the ball which was picked up by the Eagles Jon’Terll Mixon. But Mixon would cough the ball up when tackled from behind by Indians quarterback Josh Pratt. After the ball was kicked, Eagles linebacker Jon’Qual Pabellon would scoop the ball up and run in for a touchdown. The bizarre play occurred at the 9:47 mark of the second quarter.
The Indians responded with 21 unanswered points as they Noah Perfetto scored on a 1-yard dive, then Brad Sloan added a passing reception for 58-yards at the 4:15 mark and a rushing touchdown of 5-yards with 2:43 remaining in the first half.
The Eagles would continue to battle the Indians in the second half as quarterback Joey Battista hit Jhordan Pete on a 4-yard pass to make it 29-13 with 10:34 remaining in the game. The Eagles were gaining momentum by the running of senior back Jon’Tae Pabellon who tallied 99 yards on 13 carries in the game.
“We played hard, and we played together,” Eagles coach Jomont Ware said. “They (Southern) are good, and for us to play hard for all four quarters, I was proud of that.”
The Indians regained themselves and put the game out of reach with a 3-yard touchdown run by Perfetto with only 5:33 left in the contest. That made it 37-12 in favor of the Indians.
The Eagles would add a late touchdown on another pass from Battisa. This time he would connect with Vershawn Gurley from 13-yards out with only 33-seconds remaining.
“They have a lot of athletes, and they are real physical. We just really wanted to get out of here healthy, but we made a lot of mistakes. We played a lot of young kids in our backfield,” Wright said.
“They (Valley) are a great team. They play hard, they hit hard, and they came out ready to play. That what we have to expect next week,” Burris added.
The Indians will travel to face Newark St. Paul in the second round of the Division VII – Region 25 playoffs in two weeks. The Eagles will play the Lowellville Rockets this coming Friday night at Struthers.
Watch the video above for the extended highlights.
Get updated scores, throughout the playoffs on the WKBN scores page.
Looking for standings? Visit the WKBN high school football standings page.
Watch interviews and get player profiles for some of the best players in the Valley – visit the WKBN Big 22 page.