Middletown — It’s Homecoming Week Middies and your pregame information is below.
Setting the scene: It’s Week 6 of the Ohio prep football season, and the Sycamore Aviators land in Middletown for the Middies’ Homecoming Game.
Both Middletown (1-4, 0-3 GMC) and Sycamore (3-2, 1-2 GMC) head into Friday night’s matchup looking to bounce back from Week 5 setbacks.
Middletown suffered a heartbreaking 32-29 defeat to rival Princeton last Friday in Glendale. The Middies jumped on the Vikings early and took a 21-3 advantage into halftime.
However, the Vikings exploded for 21 points in the final 6 minutes of their Homecoming Game and held off the charging Middies in the final minute.
With 3:38 remaining in the game, Princeton RB Trey Key rumbled into the end zone to give the Vikings a 32-21 lead.
However, Middletown answered on the ensuing drive.
With 1:44 remain, sophomore QB Kamari Fuller found junior WR Au’Braylon Million all alone behind Princeton coverage and tightened the score to 32-29.
On the following kickoff, Middletown did the unthinkable when junior kicker Angel Rivera chipped a sky kick over the Princeton return team and senior WR Shandon Morris pounced on his second onside recovery of the night at the Princeton 38 yard line.
Middletown quickly went to work executing their 2-minute no-huddle offense, but the drive stalled at the Princeton 17 yard line.
Middletown marched their field goal unit onto Pat Mancuso Field with 39 seconds remaining, and kicker Angel Rivera took aim from the right hash, but the game-tying field goal attempt sailed wide-left and Princeton held on to pull off the miracle comeback as time expired. It was the second time in as many weeks that a Princeton game ended in such dramatic fashion.
“We fought for a full 48 minutes,” said Middletown head coach Don Simpson. “I’m so proud of the effort our team gave tonight. They left everything on the field.
“However, it still wasn’t enough. We’re going to continue working to turn the ship.”
Sycamore was blanked 45-0 by Colerain in Week 5. Colerain’s triple-option offensive attack was too much for the Aves and lifted the Cardinals to a 35-0 halftime cushion and they never looked back.
The series: Middletown and Sycamore meet for the 25th time on Friday night. The Middies and Aves first played in 1989 and Aves hold a 14-10 advantage in the series.
Last season, Sycamore defeated Middletown 34-14 in Montgomery, and Middletown won in 2015 when they routed the visiting Aves 42-6 in Barnitz Stadium. The schools did not play in 2016.
Hauling it in: Middletown senior WR Shandon Morris currently leads the Greater Miami Conference with 453 receiving yards and 7 TD receptions.
Morris tied a school record with 4 TDs against Western Hills in Week 1.
Last week, Morris hauled in two more against Princeton for his second multiple touchdown reception game of the season. “He exemplifies what it means to be a Middie,” said Simpson. “What’s even more impressive is that he’s only beginning to scratch the surface of his abilities too.”
All-everything: Middletown sophomore ATH Josh Bryant is piling up yards at an unprecedented rate.
Bryant currently resides in second overall in the GMC with 733 total yards (146.6 per game) and only trails Fairfield’s Jutahn McClain (1108 tot, 221.6 avg).
Middletown’s shifty sophomore has accumulated 335 yards rushing the football, 42 receiving, and an astounding 356 on kickoff returns.
Bryant’s 356 return yards is first in the GMC, and 126 yards more than Lakota East’s Corey Dick (230).
Defensive roundup: Middletown senior S Troy Vinson is the Middies’ top-tackler and has shown great range on the field all season.
Vinson currently ranks third in the GMC with 40 stops, and logged his first interception of the season last week at Princeton.
Senior LB Gene Underhill has matured into one of the top linebackers in the league this season too.
Underhill’s growth is evident in his ability to diagnosis an opponent’s offense, and then get their ball carrier to the ground. He currently ranks fifth in the GMC with 38 tackles, and trails just two tackles behind Vinson.