What Graduation? Tipp showed that last spring’s massive loss of starters and lettermen won’t change the way they do business. They ran and scored at will in their final scrimmage rehearsal against Eaton.
Note: After nearly 20 years of writing sports of all sorts in the Miami Valley, veteran columnist Greg Billing joins Press Pros for upcoming 2016 season. We’re proud to welcome his weekly contribution to our content.
By Greg Billing
Tipp City – As Joel Derge addressed his Tippecanoe football players following their final scrimmage, he credited the victory over Eaton to the Red Devils’ conditioning in practice. The football players got another workout Friday night.
And they weren’t the only ones.
The band had a chance to practice the fight song, belting it out after touchdowns. The Red Devils scored TDs on six of nine possessions in the 42-12 drubbing. A potential seventh was called back on a penalty.
The down-and-distance operator for the scoreboard worked feverishly to keep up with the Red Devils’ frenzied no-huddle offense. Tipp rushed for nearly 310 yards and threw for 150 more.
And then there were the Eagles, who after running up and down the field chasing the Red Devils, capped the night running post-game sprints.
“I think the way we’ve built our competitive edge in practice, we no-huddle in practice and it really showed today that we are in really good condition going into Week 1,” Derge said. “From here it’s just maintaining that.”
That’s the challenge.
Tipp returns no starters on offense. Three return on defense with senior linebacker Austin Subler, senior cornerback Aaron Hughes and senior safety Cade Rogers. Derge and Red Devils Nation wouldn’t mind seeing more experience as Tipp enters its first season in the Greater Western Ohio Conference’s American North Division that also includes Butler, Greenville, Piqua, Sidney and Troy.
“We have a plan for that. Last year against Trotwood in Week 12, we had both of our halfbacks get hurt,” Derge said of Tipp’s 32-19 loss to the Rams in the Division III regional semifinals. “And the guys that came in were ready. There’s a reason why they are ready because of the way we practice and prepare for teams. The kids we have in there, I think they know what’s going on and can execute.”
Tipp’s new offensive starters stepped up, around and over Eaton on Friday night.
Junior battering ram Matt Garber – a 6-foot, 217-pound offensive lineman and linebacker – worked short-yardage situations. His one-yard blast up the middle gave the Red Devils a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. He added another one-yard score in the fourth quarter for the 42-12 final.
Sophomore running back Josh Burritt ripped off touchdown runs of 25 and 34 yards in the second quarter for leads of 14-6 and 28-6.
Sophomore running back Mason Doll made it 21-6 with a one-yard score.
Senior running back Quenten Williams sprinted 44 yards for a score after picking up a great block from sophomore Tyle Altic to help spring him.
Senior running back Nyles Anderson chewed up yards early with quick cuts and bursts of speed.
Hughes, who also starts at quarterback, hit Williams for a 27-yard gain and Subler on a 17-yard screen pass to keep Tipp’s first scoring drive alive.
“We replace some good guys from last year with some more speed,” Derge said of an offense with quick-strike potential. “Every blocking scheme has everybody blocked except for one guy. If you make him miss you’ve got an explosive play. Using the no-huddle and speeding teams up helps with that for sure.”
The defense did its part, too. Tipp forced Eaton to punt four times, recovered a fumble, forced a fourth-down fumble for a turnover on downs and ended two more drives with interceptions by Hughes and Rogers.
“Defensively, early on the passed on us a bunch and late they ran on us. We still have a lot to work on,” said Derge, whose defense struggled against the pass early. “We were trying to stop the run first. We wanted to treat this like a real game. We wanted to stop the run so they came out and the pass was there for them and they took it. We made some adjustments at halftime and some worked and some didn’t.”
The Red Devils face another adjustment with the shift from the Central Buckeye Conference’s Kenton Division – which they won in 2015 – to the more competitive and bigger-school GWOC. Last year’s team also finished as the winningest senior class in school history at 31-6.
An 11-year playoff streak is also on the line.
“Going into the GWOC having only three of the 22 starters back is going to be a challenge for us. But the kids are ready for it,” Derge said. “I’ve never dealt with it before. In 2014 we had nine starters on offense that are new. It’s a learning curve all the time. Keep the playbook pretty simple, try to make sure the guys know what’s going on and they can execute it.”