These are the best of times for unbeaten Sidney

Published: Thursday, October 05, 2017 @ 9:35 PM
Updated: Friday, October 06, 2017 @ 1:58 PM

Sidney football standouts Isaiah Bowser (left) and Andre Gordon were key in a 49-42 Week 7 defeat of visiting Tippecanoe on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

A season of firsts continues to decorate the Sidney High School football program. There are rushing records, kicking records, an undefeated season record and a non-stop buzz around this Shelby County centerpiece that is turning into a championship roar.

»SEE PHOTO GALLERY BELOW

And then there’s this: “I don’t think we’ve tail-gated since 2000,” beamed junior quarterback Andre Gordon. “That’s pretty good.”

That good stuff hit a new high on Thursday night, when Sidney outlasted visiting Tippecanoe 49-42 in Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Week 7 showdown. The contest wasn’t settled until Sidney super back Isaiah Bowser bolted 71 yards for the winning touchdown on 4th-and-1 with less than two minutes left.

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»THE BOYS ARE BACK: Hartsock and Pendleton on Facebook Live

Bowser went for 266 yards rushing and scored twice. And Sidney (7-0) needed all that firepower to offset an equally masterful performance by Tipp senior Cole Barhorst. Here are the major highlights in a shootout that Twitter had a hard time keeping up with:

• The area’s rushing leader, Bowser pushed his seven-game total to 1,900 yards and surpassed his own program single-season rushing record he set last year. He also has 24 touchdowns.

• Barhorst rushed for 237 yards and scored three touchdowns, including a 90-yard kickoff return that pulled the teams even at 42-all with less than three minutes left. He accounted for more than 300 yards of offense for Tipp (3-4) and had three runs of 50-plus yards.

“(Barhorst) is a home run threat every time we give him the ball,” said Tipp coach Joel Derge.

• Gordon figured in on four touchdowns. He scored twice on runs of 25 and 5 yards and connected with Lathan Jones (39 yards) and Ratez Roberts (13 yards) on TD passes. A gifted junior who also excels in basketball, Gordon also ran for 123 yards.

• Sidney sophomore kicker Hallie Truesdale reset the program’s single-season record for most extra-point kicks. She converted all five attempts, which makes her 37 for 38 overall.

• Sidney is 7-0 for the first time since 1974 when the great Kris Haines was running wild in the Yellow Jackets’ backfield.

• Sidney (2-0) is in contention for a rare conference title with three games remaining.

• Sidney (Division II, Region 8) appears destined to join its 1989 team as the only other squad to qualify for the playoffs. Sidney is No. 4 in the region. Unbeaten Belmont, which beat Ponitz 41-0 also on Thursday, is No. 5.

Memorial Stadium was rocking throughout and reached a partisan peak on Caleb Harris’ interception to clinch the clutch win in the final minute. Sidney students rushed 30-&-0 Field and joined the Yellow Jackets for a long celebration and choreographed calisthenics display.

Overtime seemed inevitable until Bowser blew through the middle of Tipp’s defense.

“We’ve got to make plays,” said Bowser, who’s verbally committed to Northwestern University. “We know that. The community, they’re all behind us. (Making the playoffs) hasn’t been done in forever. That’s what we’re trying to do, show the GWOC and state we’re a good team.”

Tipp (3-4) is likely out of D-III, Region 12 playoff contention.

This is the season Sidney thought it was going to have last year. Injuries and other setbacks postponed the envisioned success. It wasn’t so long ago that Sidney was an easy out in the GWOC. Not now.

“It takes a little bit longer now to go to the grocery story,” Sidney coach Adam Doenges said. “People used to turn and go the other way down the aisle to avoid me. Now, everywhere you go, people want to talk about (Sidney football). There is an excitement, no matter where you go in town. It’s neat. That’s what high school football should be like.”

»FACEBOOK: For more high school sports you should like Marc Pendleton

Sidney’s Ratez Roberts (left) and Tipp DB Justin Everette. Sidney defeated visiting Tippecanoe 49-42 in a Week 7 GWOC American North high school football game on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
»PHOTO GALLERY

Tennessee icon Phillip Fulmer back in the saddle recruiting for Vols again

Published: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 8:11 AM

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee College Football Hall of Fame coach Phillip Fulmer is back on the road recruiting again, seeking out the best “Jimmy’s and Joe’s” he can find for the Vols.

Fulmer, who coached Tennessee to a 152-52 record from 1992-2008 — including the 1998 national championship — used to like to say “It’s not the Xs and Os, but the Jimmy’s and Joe’s” that mattered most during the Vols’ era of dominance.

“You can not take a mule to the Kentucky Derby,” Fulmer said Sunday night on the ‘The Nation’ Vol Network show Sunday night. “We’ve got to get players.”

RELATED: Jeremy Pruitt makes recruiting request to help Tennessee get going

Fulmer replaced John Currie as Tennessee’s athletic director on Dec. 1 and hired new football coach Jeremy Pruitt six days later on Dec. 7.

There’s just one catch: Pruitt will finish out this season as Alabama’s defensive coordinator and is essentially on loan to recruit for the Vols through Dec. 17, before the start of the recruiting “dead period.” The dead period means coaches cannot see recruits or their parents face to face or visit their high schools.

Fulmer, once known for his great recruiting prowess to the extent of playing himself in the movie “The Blind Side,” is once again qualified to be on the road as a recruiter until Pruitt can fill out his coaching staff.

 

The new early signing period starts on Dec. 20, and the Vols hosted several 2017 commits this weekend who plan to sign early and enroll in school in January.

“I’ve passed my test and I’m ready to hit the road here, made a lot of phone calls,” the 67-year-old Fulmer said Sunday night. “[Recruiting] is something, if you have the passion, and everyone knows how much I care for what Tennessee is and what it’s done for me, and I want it to be great again. This has actually energized me.

“You like to compete, and we’ve really got a great opportunity in front of us. We’re looking forward and not behind.”

Tennessee is coming off the school’s first-ever eight-loss season and winless league slate.

Fulmer insists the Vols aren’t that far from where they need to be to compete for championships, likely referencing the back-to-back nine-win seasons and top-25 finishes under former coach Butch Jones in 2015 and 2016.

“We’re not that far removed from where we were competing for championships,” said Fulmer, whose program last played in the SEC Championship Game in 2007, when he was still the head coach. “We just have to remind everyone that’s what we’re about.”

Fulmer made it clear the Vols are casting a wide net, too.

“We’ve tripled the number of guys we’re looking at,” Fulmer said, “and I like the way we’re going about getting ready to compete.”

T.J. Watt emotional while giving teammate the credit for his game-winning sack

Published: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 8:09 AM

Pittsburgh Steelers rookie linebacker T.J. Watt took down Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco on the last play of the game on Sunday Night Football. The Steelers were up, 39-38, and Watt’s strip sack sealed the game.

It was a critical win for their playoff position and division standings. It was a tough game against a fierce rival. It was also the first game they played without linebacker Ryan Shazier, who is done for the year after suffering a serious spinal injury against the Cincinnati Bengals. Shazier had to have spinal surgery and he Facetimed with his teammates after the win, but his absence in the locker room was still felt.

“This is all a product of Shay,” Watt said, per Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s what makes this defense go. We had to do it without him. It was tough, but I was proud of the way we brought it together and never gave up.”

Never giving up is true. However, they also surrendered 38 points and Ravens running back Alex Collins ran for 120 yards and a touchdown. It was clear that they missed Shazier’s presence on the field, as well.

The only sack of the game was Watt’s, perhaps showing how the defense was learning how to play without Shazier and adapting all night – and finally getting it right when it mattered most.

“I was just trying to use all the energy I had left in the tank,” Watt said. “It was a long game. We had a lot of rush opportunities throughout the game. I felt like I was getting close. Toward the end, I just wanted to give it everything I had and make a play for the defense.

“I just wanted get to the ball. I was saying, ‘Don’t throw it away, don’t throw it away.’ Sometimes we’re so close as rush men that they just throw it away at the end. Knowing that they had to make a big play I thought he’d be hanging onto it. I just went for the ball when I got to him.”

Auburn football: Good things continue to fall on The Plains

Published: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 8:06 AM

Auburn

Auburn football is the No. 1 topic in the War Eagle Wakeup every day — but we cover news, notes and analysis from across the Tigers’ sports world. Join us each morning to get caught up on everything you missed in the world of Auburn football, recruiting, basketball and more.

It’s beginning to look a lot like …

There was a different kind of excitement across the Southeast on Friday night and into the early hours of Saturday morning as a light snow began to fall.

Some parts of Alabama, according to the National Weather Service, saw up to 5 inches of snow. While it certainly wasn’t a blizzard by any means, it was just enough to bring some Christmas cheer to The Plains a little early.

With finals happening this week and next and Christmas break right around the corner, the snow was a perfect touch, making an already beautiful campus even more stunning.

In other Auburn football news:

Beating the Blazers

Auburn basketball earned a big win over UAB on Saturday night in Auburn Arena.

The Tigers downed the visiting Blazers 85-80 in front of a buzzing crowd. It was a quality win and the eighth so far this season for Bruce Pearl’s team.

Junior guard Bryce Brown stepped up with Mustapha Heron sidelined (back spasms), scoring 27 points. Point guard Jared Harper handed out 5 assists and added 21 points.

Desean Murray delivered another big game, pouring in 18 points and grabbing 7 rebounds, while forward Anfernee McLemore collected 9 rebounds — and added 2 more blocks to his season total.

Next up

Auburn has been hard at work on the court having played three games in six days. Now, it’s time for a little rest.

The next few games are going to be telling for Auburn basketball and it all starts when the Tigers take on Middle Tennessee in Birmingham on Saturday (Dec. 16).

Tigers notch another win 

Auburn women’s basketball earned its fourth straight win, beating Southern on Saturday night at Auburn Arena.

The Tigers got off to a slow start but came together and posted a 30-point fourth quarter to finally notch a win. Freshman Unique Thompson scored 18 points and added 10 rebounds for her third double-double of the season.

Tweet of the day 

Cam Newton did this on Sunday afternoon:

And then he did this:

Miss a previous edition? Find every post of SEC Country’s daily War Eagle Wakeup Auburn football post right here.

The post Auburn football: Good things continue to fall on The Plains appeared first on SEC Country.

Alabama football: Minkah Fitzpatrick ready for another shot at Hunter Renfrow

Published: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 8:06 AM

Alabama football drives the conversation here at the Rammer Jammer , SEC Country’s daily Alabama athletics recap, but we’ll cover news for every facet of the Crimson Tide. Every morning, we’ll be here for the latest on Alabama football, basketball and every sport on campus.

Familiar foe

Alabama will face Clemson in the College Football Playoff for the third straight year. By now, these teams know each other inside and out. Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is ready for another shot at Clemson wide receiver Hunter Renfrow. In the past two seasons, Alabama has brought the best out of Renfrow, who has 17 catches for 180 yards and 4 touchdowns against the Crimson Tide. Renfrow kept Clemson in the 2016 game and caught the game-winning touchdown for the Tigers in the 2017 contest. Fitzpatrick will play a big part in shutting down the former walk-on. This season, Renfrow has 55 catches for 571 yards and 3 touchdowns.

In other headlines …

  • Alabama punter JK Scott discussed the botched field goal hold against Auburn and how he’s able to laugh it off now that Alabama is in the playoff.
  • Alabama basketball guard Collin Sexton landed in the top 5 of DieHards’ ranking of college basketball freshmen.
  • Alabama linebacker Mack Wilson sent out a strong message about the Crimson Tide’s title aspirations.

Overlooked heroes

Alabama is known for having not only one of the best head coaches in Nick Saban but one of the best all-around support staffs in the country. This includes coordinators, strength coaches and analysts. Those staffers tend to receive a lot of praise, but one section of the program sometimes gets overlooked, despite being among the best in the nation. Head athletic trainer Jeff Allen and his medical team make sure Alabama players come back from injury as strong as they previously were. Allen and his team of trainers are an integral part of Alabama’s success.

Coming up short in duel in desert

Alabama basketball is playing a tougher nonconference schedule this season. On Saturday, the Crimson Tide played perhaps its toughest game of that improved schedule by traveling to Tucson, Ariz., to take on the Arizona Wildcats. The Crimson Tide came up just short, losing to Arizona, 88-82. Alabama battled and received 30 points from Sexton in the loss. Arizona forward Deandre Ayton, a likely top 5 pick in the draft, had 29 points and 18 rebounds. Still, Alabama showed it can compete with the best.

Built by Bama

UFC fighter Eryk Anders, who played linebacker at Alabama, improved to 10-0 with a win by unanimous decision over Markus Perez.

Around the Capstone

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