Led by an experienced backfield, the Dresden Tri-Valley High School football team overwhelmed New Albany during a 24-7 win in a Division II, Region 7 semifinal on Friday, Nov. 11, at Gahanna.
Tri-Valley running back Austin Jones rushed for 149 yards and quarterback Nathan Strock ran for 91 yards as the Scotties dominated with a shotgun spread.
Seeded second in the region, Tri-Valley improved to 11-1 and advanced to play top-seeded Marion-Franklin in the regional final on Nov. 18 at a site to be determined. New Albany, the third seed, finished 9-3.
“Those two have been playing together since seventh grade and both have been good players since seventh grade,” Tri-Valley coach Justin Buttermore said of Jones and Strock, the nephew of former NFL quarterback Don Strock. “A lot of what we do is about (the quarterback-running back exchange) and a lot of people have trouble with that exchange. Our quarterback and tailback have great chemistry doing it.”
Tri-Valley ran 39 plays in the second half and all but six were runs by Jones or Strock. Jones scored two touchdowns and the Scotties held a 14-7 lead at halftime.
New Albany had taken a 7-0 lead on its first possession, capping an 80-yard, 12-play drive with a 9-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Zach Tomi to wide receiver Kevin Collins. The Eagles managed just 89 more yards the rest of the game.
Tri-Valley tied the game at 7 when a 73-yard drive culminated with a 2-yard touchdown run by Jones. Matt Amicone set up the score with a 59-yard catch that gave the Scotties first-and-goal at the Eagles' 3. Amicone finished with three catches for 105 yards.
Tri-Valley added another score three plays into the second quarter on a 3-yard run by Jones.
“They're good runners and we knew that coming in,” New Albany coach Mark Mueller said of Strock and Jones. “But they're also pretty good up front. I'd give that offensive line some credit. We've been outmanned all year up front. We're smaller up there and good teams that are bigger up front can do that. This is playoff football.”
Tri-Valley extended its lead to 17-7 with a 23-yard field goal by Amicone in the third quarter.
Then, on the first play of the fourth quarter, Strock, who also plays in the secondary, intercepting quarterback Zach Tomi on the first play of the fourth quarter, giving the Scotties the ball at the Eagles' 32. Six plays later, Strock scored on a 5-yard run to put the Scotties ahead 24-7 with 9 minutes, 40 seconds left.
“We just know that when people try to stop our passing game, we can hand it off to Jones and know that he's going to get some yards,” Strock said. “(If) they start stopping that, we can go to the passing game.”
NEW ALBANY 7 0 0 0 -- 7
TRI-VALLEY 7 7 3 7 -- 24
NA--Collins 9 pass from Tomi (Gammill kick)
TV--Jones 2 run (Amicone kick)
TV--Jones 3 run (Amicone kick)
TV--Amicone 23 FG
TV--Strock 5 run (Amicone kick)