Panthers end season at London

By Chris Hoppes -

Miami Trace’s Westin Melvin (center) carries during a Division III playoff game at London High School Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. Blocking at left for the Panthers is Luke Henry (52).

Miami Trace’s Westin Melvin (center) carries during a Division III playoff game at London High School Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. Blocking at left for the Panthers is Luke Henry (52).

Chris Hoppes | Record-Herald

The Miami Trace Panthers football team had its season come to an end Friday, Oct. 16 when they played their second Division III playoff game, this one at London.

After beating Chillicothe, 27-14 on Oct. 9, the Panthers played at London, falling 41-7.

Miami Trace ends the season with a record of 4-4.

Taking a look at that game, London scored two touchdowns and missed a two-point conversion to take a 13-0 lead with 6:25 to play in the first quarter.

The Panthers responded with a 56-yard pass play from Westin Melvin to Josh Gilmore.

Zach Warnock’s extra-point kick cut the margin to 13-7 with 3:34 to play.

As time expired in the first quarter, London’s Antwaun Burns broke several tackles and ran 80 yards for a touchdown. The extra-point kick made it 20-7 after the first quarter.

It remained 20-7 until London scored with 1:22 to play in the half, a 10-yard run by Isaiah Jones.

London led 27-7 at the half.

The Red Raiders tacked on two more scores in the third quarter, a 1-yard run by Burns and a 30-yard run by Jones. Factoring in the extra-points, London finished with a final tally of 41-7.

Taking a look at the statistics, London ran 55 plays and accumulated 456 total yards of offense.

The Panthers had 36 plays and gained 109 yards of offense.

Melvin was 5 of 15 passing for 83 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions.

London completed 3 of 11 passes for 18 yards.

The Red Raiders had three players rush for over 100 yards.

Burns had 14 carries for 211 yards and three touchdowns; Jones had 123 yards on 13 carries and two touchdowns and Hayden Vasey carried 11 times for 104 yards and one touchdown.

Melvin carried six times for 7 yards; Treven Shoemaker had one carry for 17 yards and Gilmore had one for 12 yards.

Gilmore had two receptions for 58 yards and one touchdown.

Gage Miller had one catch for 15 yards; Jayden LeBeau had one catch for 9 yards and Landon Cope had one catch for 1 yard.

London was penalized 7 times for 50 yards, while the Panthers were flagged three times for 16 yards.

Both teams had one turnover (each a lost fumble).

Miami Trace had three first downs, two by passing and one by penalty and London had 16 first downs, 15 by rushing and one by passing.

Melvin punted 9 times with a 30-yards per punt average.

Jones punted twice for London, averaging 41-yards.

LeBeau had four kickoff returns for 62 yards and Matthew Haddox returned one for 14 yards.

Defensively, Luke Henry led Miami Trace in tackles with 14.

Preston Reed had 7.5 tackles, Hunter McBee had 5.5 tackles and Miller had four tackles.

The Record-Herald spoke with Miami Trace head coach Jerry Williams about the game and garnered some of this thoughts about the season.

“We were physically out-gunned,” Williams said. “It was a game in which we had to do everything right in order to stay in it. From the first snap on our side (a lost fumble by the Panthers), that kind of set us back and gave them a quick strike. When you make mistakes to good teams, as I’ve mentioned many times, you’re going to get yourself in trouble and we did.

“We started off behind and they got up on us 13-0,” Williams said. “We moved the ball down the field pretty well and got a quick strike with Josh Gilmore, who’s very good at keeping us in games at times. At that point, we couldn’t stop them.

“Burns is a good runner,” Williams said. “Some of our best players were bouncing off of him a few times and we couldn’t bring him down. It was one of those games in which we wanted to go in and play a great game and compete and when you don’t play that perfect game, it makes things difficult.”

Williams spoke about getting to play eight games and, in fact, having a season at all during a pandemic.

“We were very happy with that,” Williams said. “It was very difficult early on, before the season started, before we got word that we would be able to play. These guys invested a lot of time, we were going through a lot of practicing. We weren’t able to scrimmage, we weren’t able to do anything. We had no idea we were even going to be able to play. That was very draining to try do that and keep the kids involved.

“We were very fortunate we were able to put together a schedule,” Williams said. “It started out quick. We won our first three games and we were on a high. Then, we lose our next three games. We were on a physical and mental roller-coaster the entire time. That was a struggle.

“We were very fortunate and happy to win our first-round game in the playoff and move on to the second round,” Williams said. “Then we ran into a wall there at London and it was very unfortunate. It’s been a roller-coaster ride from start to finish. It was very demanding on the coaches and the players.”

Williams said that plans were in place to play Paint Valley, but the Bearcats won their Division VI playoff game against Greeneview, 42-7.

The Bearcats, led by first-year head coach Corey Dye, (formerly head coach and assistant coach for the Washington Blue Lions) finished second in the Scioto Valley Conference, losing only to SVC champions Adena, 50-28.

This week, Paint Valley (6-1) will play at Mechanicsburg (7-0).

“I left it up to the seniors and they chose to finish the season after London,” Williams said. “We got kind of beat up (at London) and we weren’t going to have a number of players back. That’s another reason the seniors chose not to play.

“The OHSAA (Ohio High School Athletic Association) and the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association worked hard to get this season in,” Williams said. “They are the ones who set the guidelines and proposed to the governor. Those guys put a lot of work in behind the scenes for us to have a season.

“I certainly have to applaud Aaron Hammond (Miami Trace High School Athletic Director),” Williams said. “The number of sports that he had to work with, and not knowing and having to put that together, that was, I’m sure, very taxing on him. I appreciate what he does behind the scenes to get us out there and play.

“Our coaches certainly invested a lot of time, not knowing whether they were going to have a season or not,” Williams said. “I’ve got to thank those guys. They stuck with it. All of the coaches were optimistic about being able to have a season and putting the time in to make it work. We thank the staff, as well.

“We’re ready to start building for 2021,” Williams said. “I certainly want to applaud these seniors. These guys have had, talk about a roller-coaster ride, they’ve begun to set the foundation for the future. They may only have been 4-4 and last year was 5-5, but they won a playoff game this year. That was a big step for the program.

“The seniors have given their all for four years,” Williams said. “This was the group that I first got here with. I appreciated everything they’ve done over the last four years of buying in and starting this culture. It’s taken a few years to get rolling, but, these guys have really begun that foundation. I’m very appreciative of those young men.”

Miami Trace’s Westin Melvin (center) carries during a Division III playoff game at London High School Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. Blocking at left for the Panthers is Luke Henry (52). Trace’s Westin Melvin (center) carries during a Division III playoff game at London High School Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. Blocking at left for the Panthers is Luke Henry (52). Chris Hoppes | Record-Herald

By Chris Hoppes