By Garth Shanklin
When the Ohio High School Athletic Association updates their football records page after the season, the Bethel-Tate Tigers will find their name on it in several places. Unfortunately, the Tigers will be on the wrong side of history.
Blanchester quarterback Tristan Greene accounted for 10 total touchdowns in the Wildcats’ National Division championship-clenching 73-18 win over the Tigers in Blanchester on Oct. 21.
Greene completed 13 of his 18 pass attempts for 151 yards and four touchdowns. He added 19 carries for 287 yards and six more scores on the ground.
Bethel-Tate found themselves in a hole early. Blanchester took the opening kickoff down the field and scored on a one-yard run by Greene with 8:49 left in the quarter. After a Wildcat pick, Greene connected with Hunter Collier for a 10-yard touchdown pass to give Blanchester a 13-0 lead. Greene scored two more times in the quarter, once on a 50-yard keeper off a read-option and again on a three-yard run with 19.5 seconds left in the quarter.
The read-option gave the Tigers fits all game long, and Bethel-Tate head coach Jeff Essig said the ability of the Wildcats’ offensive line helped them run the plays so well.
“They run that quarterback power pretty good,” Essig said. “Our guys were on skates a lot. Their line is a very good line, both sides of the ball. When they execute their quarterback power and their read option with that power read, it’s tough to stop.”
Bethel-Tate got on the board at the 2:10 mark of the period, with quarterback Chris Wheeler connecting on a 30-yard touchdown pass to Austin Carter. Bethel-Tate trailed 27-6 at the end of the first stanza.
The second quarter wasn’t much better for the Tigers. Wheeler hit Carter with a 26-yard strike to open the frame and pull Bethel-Tate within two scores, but less than a minute later Greene ripped off a 45-yard touchdown run. He added a toss to Quenton Miller at the 6:10 mark of the quarter and two more touchdown runs by halftime. The Tigers trailed 52-12 at halftime.
A running clock slowed down scoring in the second half. Greene threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Miller with 6:04 left in the third quarter and added another touchdown pass, this one to Jared Monhollen, with 45.2 seconds left.
Collier scored the Wildcat’s final points of the game with 4:29 left, running into the end zone from five yards out. The Tigers answered seven seconds later with a 51-yard touchdown run by Steven Cooper for their final score of the contest.
Essig said the Tigers had to rotate players in and out of the game at times, which left them shorthanded.
“We were prepared for a fight,” Essig said. “We knew they would be aggressive and ready to play. We had some key guys go down and we had some guys that had to come out at certain times. We weren’t playing with a full deck the entire time, and you have to do that with a team like Blanchester who has a great quarterback and their offensive and defensive lines are very, very good at what they do.”
The Blanchester offensive line helped the team rack up 560 yards in total offense, while the defensive line shut down the Tigers’ rushing attack. Bethel-Tate averaged 6.4 yards per carry, totaling 121 yards on 19 carries. Remove Cooper’s 51-yard touchdown run against the Wildcats’ backup defenders, however, and that average drops to 3.9 yards per rush. Essig said the team’s offensive line was outsized, but the fact that they never gave up stuck with the coach.
“Their defensive line was very aggressive,” Essig said. “They’re bigger than us, but we can’t use that as an excuse. Our guys up front tried their best, they played their hardest. That’s all we can ever ask out of those guys.”
Chris Wheeler completed 12 of his 18 pass attempts for 136 yards and two scores, but he was also intercepted twice. Essig said Wheeler needs to be more comfortable moving out of the pocket when things start to break down.
“Too many interceptions, too many late throws when he should’ve made the other read or he should’ve tucked it at times,” Essig said. “He needs to have some more confidence in his feet and take the ball down a little more sometimes when everybody bails into coverage. We’re working on that, it’s the first year in our system both offensively and defensively. We’re growing.”
Cooper finished the game with 10 carries for 91 yards and a touchdown. Austin Carter led the Tigers’ receivers with eight catches for 121 yards and two scores.
Miller caught four passes for 42 yards and two scores for Blanchester. Monhollen added three receptions for 34 yards and another score. In addition to the 287 yards rushing put up by Greene, Collier added 114 more yards on the ground and another score on 13 carries.
The 10 total touchdowns tie Greene with Tiffan’s Cliff Miller for second-most in a single game in Ohio high school football history. Miller scored 10 in an overtime game against Shelby in 2014. The state record for touchdowns in a game is 12, set by Erastus “Tunk” Simmons for Medina in 1923.
The 60 total points for Greene give him sole possession of seventh place in the all-time scoring list for one game in the state. Miller sits tied for third place with 62, while Simmons’ 78 is the all-time record.
As the Tigers prepare for the final game of the regular season, a road trip to Clermont Northeastern on Friday, Oct. 28, 2016 at 7 p.m., the team looks to send out the seniors in style.
“We’ve got week 10 still,” Essig said. “We can end at 5-5. It wasn’t where we wanted to be, but the opportunity’s still there. We have to go out with a win for these seniors. They’ve worked so hard. There’s only four of them, we have to do it for them.”