MIDDLETOWN – Setting the scene: In Week 2, both Middletown and Fairfield faced off against nonconference rivals from the Greater Western Ohio Conference. However, the final results proved to be very different. The Middies fell 37-14 to a revitalized Springboro Panthers squad seeking to qualify for the OHSAA postseason for the first time in two years. While Fairfield traveled to Springfield and narrowly escaped the Wildcats in a 16-12 slugfest.
Friday night, Springboro brought their two-week quarterback controversy into Barnitz Stadium, and exploded for more than 400 yards of offense and 31 straight points to easily outdo their Week 1 34-7 thrashing of Mason. The setback obviously soured the postgame feeling the host Middies felt during a home opener, especially after coming into the game having shutout Western Hills 49-0 a week earlier.
“We’re still young at many positions. However, we’re fully committed to the continued rebuild of this program,” said second-year head coach Don Simpson. “Springboro proved Friday night that they’re a very good football team, and the positive takeaway from that game is that the mistakes we made can be fixed. For now, we’re going to turn our focus to Fairfield.”
One player continuing to produce for the Middies offense this season is junior RB Josh Bryant. Against Boro, Bryant had 16 rushes for 78 yards and also led the team with five receptions for 84 yards, including a 64-yard TD strike in the first quarter.
Junior QB Kamari Fuller was 17-for-30 for 195 yards passing and two TDs. Fuller also and added seven carries for 21 yards. Also, sophomore JC Calhoun logged his second TD catch of the season with a 59-yard grab from Fuller in the third quarter.
Double digits: Three Middletown defenders logged 10 tackles or more Friday night. Junior LB Kamron Cooper had a career night as he led the Middies with 13 takedowns, and fellow inside backer Earl Nelson added 11. Senior newcomer DB Kelvin Shealey logged 10 tackles, and also snagged his first interception of the season on Springboro’s first play from scrimmage. “Sometimes I have to remind myself that Kamron has only played two varsity football games for us,” said Simpson. “He is only going to continue to get better each week as he grows into this new leadership role on our defense.”
Got your back(s): Anyone headed to Barnitz Stadium Friday night, probably already knows this Week 3 matchup features two of the most highly touted RBs in Greater Cincinnati this season. Fairfield’s JuTahn McClain is the reigning GMC offensive athlete of the year, and with the nonconference portion of the 2019 schedule in the books, McClain leads the GMC with 291 rushing yards on 46 attempts (145.5 YPG and 6.3 AVG) and two TDs. McClain resides in third in the GMC with 323 all-purpose yards, respectively.
Middletown junior RB Josh Bryant currently leads the GMC with 420 all-purpose yards, and 280 of those yards came on the ground. Which puts Bryant in second position in the conference and just 11 yards behind McClain.
By the numbers: Middletown and Fairfield have met on the gridiron 50 times previously. The first meeting took place in 1963, and the most recent matchup was in Week 10 of 2017. The Middies hold a commanding 35-15 advantage. However, the last time Middletown defeated the Indians was a 41-26 Week 4 decision in 2012. Fairfield routed Middletown 48-0 in 2017.
Team stats: Currently, Fairfield ranks No. 3 in the GMC offensively with 350.0 yards per game. Middletown ranks No. 5 at 340.0. Defensively, Fairfield ranks No. 3 at 178 YPG, and Middletown No. 4 at 250.5.
Did you know?: Middletown native JB Deaton who was a Week 2 honorary captain hasn’t missed a regular season Middletown varsity football game in 65 seasons. Over the last 20 years, Deaton hasn’t missed a two-a-days practice, either. He can also tell you exactly where the Middies mascot is comes from, seriously!