Tri-Valley upends New Lexington in the “MVL Super Bowl”

Posted on:

< < Back to

NEW LEXINGTON, Ohio (WOUB) – In arguably the most highly-anticipated Muskingum Valley League matchup of the season, the Tri-Valley Scotties took down the undefeated New Lexington Panthers 23-12 on Friday night. 

For the Scotties to be able to travel down south to get a victory over a strong Panther team, they knew that they had to stop New Lexington’s star running back Hunter Rose. As the Panthers received the opening kickoff, the Tri-Valley defense didn’t allow Rose to even touch the ball in the first possession of the game.

On the opening play, Panther quarterback Lukas Ratliff threw a screen to wide receiver Tatem Toth. On the catch, Toth was de-cleated by Scottie corner Jayden Walker, causing the ball to pop up in the air and be intercepted by defensive end Chris Gargasz, who returned it down to the New Lexington two-yard line. 

The monster takeaway set up an easy Hansel Holmes touchdown run on the next play, seemingly taking the air out of the New Lexington home crowd. 

Once the start-of-game chaos had passed and New Lexington was able to set up offense on their next drive, it was clear the Tri-Valley defense was paying Rose all the respect he was due. Head coach Cam West and the rest of his coaching staff displayed that they were going to load the box against the dynamic Panther tailback. In order to do this, the coaching staff needed to trust the rest of the defense to run to the ball and tackle well on the screen plays that are highly used by New Lexington. 

Disciplinary issues were an offensive burden for the Panthers for much of the first half. Multiple drive-slowing penalties and a costly second interception from Ratliff led to the Panther defense needing to step up in a big way for their offense. Panther sophomore safety Bentley Hanson made a crucial goal-line interception off Mac Lyall to keep this one close going into the second quarter. 

After an unsuccessful first quarter attempting to attack the Scotties through the air, the Panthers decided to keep in on the ground with their two most dynamic runners: Rose and Ratliff. This strategy proved to work much better for New Lexington. Although the Tri-Valley front seven was stout against Rose all night, he was able to get his game going just enough to free up Ratliff in the run game. And just two minutes into the second quarter, Rose was rewarded for drawing the attention of the defense, punching in a goal line touchdown to make it a 7-6 game in favor of Tri-Valley. 

On New Lexington’s last drive of the first half, Ratliff and Rose were the catalysts of the offense again. Each collected their own chunk-play runs to lead the Panthers down to the goal line. To cap off the drive, Ratliff found Toth on a similar screen play as the first of the game, but for a touchdown this time. 

Despite facing as much adversity as the Panthers had seen thus far this year, they found themselves leading 12-7 headed into the halftime locker room. 

Tri-Valley got the ball to open the second half, and they made the most of it. After marching into New Lexington territory, Lyall Connected with Ashton Sensibaugh through the air for a touchdown to put the Scotties up 14-12. 

From there, the Scotties silenced the New Lexington offense, adjusting on defense to handle Rose and Ratliff’s running game. Adding one more touchdown and a field goal to the board, Tri-Valley shut down the Panthers to get the two-score victory. 

Tri-Valley wide receiver and defensive back Jayden Walker was a clear standout for the Scotties in this one. He had a kickoff return called back on a holding but showed that he has game-breaking ability with the ball in his hands. On defense, he displayed his willingness to come up and make tackles in the run game, and his aggressive play style was felt by the Panther receivers whom he punished often with big hits after the catch. 

This win sets the Scotties up to be the MVL favorite for the rest of the season. If this game wasn’t big enough for Tri-Valley, they’ll square off against a one-loss Morgan team at home next week. 

As for New Lexington, their first loss of the season is a big stain in what they hoped this season will be, especially on their home field. But they have a chance to get back into the win column next week on the road against a winless Coshocton team.