By Ron Nunnari
CLAYTON — Sometimes when a bad thing happens it triggers an equally positive outcome. That was the case for Northmont this week when it had to shuffle its lineup to compensate for an injury to starting running back Avery Miliner.
Devin Kenerly was moved to the running back position from linebacker and Isaiah Stanford, who hadn’t started at all this season, got moved to outside linebacker and came up with about six huge plays for the Thunderbolts.
“Stanford has been a defensive lineman his whole career, but we needed an outside linebacker because Kenerly was the outside linebacker and since Miliner was hurt we had to make Kenerly the running back,” said Northmont Coach Tony Broering. “You can tell by watching Kenerly that he’s a great running back. Really, he was born to be a running back. We needed an outside linebacker and we
worked all weekend as a staff trying to come up with a plan for that, and the name we kept coming up with was Isaiah Stanford. He wasn’t starting but he was working hard every day in practice and never complained, and tonight he was probably our Most Valuable Player.”
With Piqua facing a fourth down and 12 trailing 21-13 in the fourth quarter Stanford sacked Piqua quarterback Rupert Delacruz for a six yard loss to force the Indians to punt from their own six yard line. Stanford finished the night with three solo tackles and three assists.
He wasn’t Northmont’s only defensive star. Late in the third quarter Piqua defensive tackle Tristen Cox (6-feet, 4-inches, 333 pounds) blocked a Northmont punt and the Indians took over at the Thunderbolts’ 17 yard line trailing 14-13. On fourth down and 14 at the 21 Delacruz fired a pass into the end zone that was broken up by Cameron Reaman to give Northmont the ball at its own 21, Reaman had four solo tackles on the night.
Late in the first quarter with game scoreless Piqua drove deep into Northmont territory where the Thunderbolts forced a fumble. Cameron Rucker recovered the ball at the Northmont 25 to thwart the Piqua scoring threat. Rucker had four solo tackles and two assists in the game.
The first quarter ended in a 0-0 tie. Northmont took a 7-0 lead when sophomore Jabari Perkins returned a Piqua punt 82 yards for a touchdown with 5:12 remaining in the first half. Nick Winchester added the point after to put the Thunderbolts up 7-0.
With Northmont threatening again Brenden Reck threw a deep pass that was intercepted by Andrew Lee and he returned it 20 yards to the Indians’ 44. From there Piqua drove 56 yards in five plays with Darien Tipps-Clemons scoring on a three yard run. Noah Lyman’s kick tied it 7-7 with 20 seconds left in the first half.
Northmont took the lead for good when Reck tossed a 33 yard touchdown pass to Nick Boyd with 9:54 remaining in the third quarter. Winchester’s kick put Northmont up 14-7.
Piqua engineered a seven play, 80 yard drive capped by a 10 yard run by Delacruz with 6:44 left in the third quarter, but the extra point was no good as Northmont clung to a 14-13 lead.
Reck came through with a 42 yard touchdown pass to Boyd with 10:03 remaining in the game and Winchester’s kick put the Thunderbolts up 21-13. Reck completed 11 of 17 passes on the night for 115 yards and two touchdowns. A junior, he replaced senior Chris Timmons at the quarterback slot.
“Chris handled the quarterback switch really well,” Broering said. “Chris Timmons is the kind of young man that I want my son to grow up to be. He is all about the team. He didn’t put his head down. Instead he worked hard at other positions for me… he played receiver, he played slot, he played three different positions tonight that he has never played his entire career just to help the team win. Because of his ‘team first’ attitude the whole rest of the team got behind that and it was just beautiful to watch all week in practice.”
Broering was glad to see his team earn its first win after working so hard all season in practice.
“I am so happy that they got to win,” he added. “We knew Piqua was going to be really good from watching them on film. They did a great job preparing for us. But I wanted to do my best for the boys because they give me their best every day. If you would see how they practice you would never know we were 0-3. You would have thought we were 3-0. Everybody was at practice, everybody was on time, everybody was working hard and everybody was pulling for each other. And really, that’s a credit to guys like Timmons who said, ‘It is not about me, it’s about the team.’ He stepped back and played other spots for us and I am so proud of him and the entire team for their attitudes and effort.”
Score by Quarter
PIQ 0 7 6 0 – 13
NMT 0 7 7 7 – 21