Canal Winchester High School football coach Josh Stratton offered up a big reminder to his players following a dominating 38-6 victory over host Big Walnut on Oct. 27.
At 6-4 overall, the Indians’ record is their best since 2012 when they finished 9-3 and lost to Marion-Franklin in a Division II regional semifinal.
Canal Winchester, which finished 3-2 in the OCC-Capital Division, appears to be headed back to the playoffs. According to unofficial computer ratings, the Indians were eighth in Division II, Region 7 after the victory, as the top eight teams in the region make the postseason.
The OHSAA will announce the first-round playoff pairings Oct. 29.
“It’s amazing to be a part of a program that can really move itself forward and come back from the past five years of not being able to get its record where it should be,” Indians running back Tanner Conley said. “Coach Stratton has done an amazing job turning the culture around and making sure that … we change the outcome of the season.”
Conley and teammate Dominic Davis combined for 254 yards rushing against Big Walnut.
Conley rushed for 153 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, and Davis added 101 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Conley’s 63-yard touchdown run in the second quarter gave Canal Winchester a 28-6 halftime lead.
Indians quarterback Jack Beeler completed nine of 17 passes for 110 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown to DeShawn Williams in the first quarter and a 12-yard touchdown to Stanton Smith in the second quarter. Beeler also scored on a 9-yard run in the third quarter.Big Walnut, which finished 4-6 overall and 4-1 in the OCC-Capital, trailed 21-0 before Nathan Lawyer scored on a 2-yard run in the second quarter.
“(The Golden Eagles) win games with great defense … so getting up early on them makes them get out of their game plan offensively a little bit,” Stratton said. “We game-planned to spread them out and press them vertically … and that’s what we did in the first half.”
Andy VanHouten led Big Walnut with 136 yards rushing on 21 carries. However, the Golden Eagles’ offense struggled to keep drives moving and converted just five of 16 third downs.
With the loss, Big Walnut shares the OCC-Capital championship with New Albany, which also finished 4-1 in the league after beating Groveport 27-20 on Oct. 27.
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final CANAL WINCHESTER 14 14 7 3 38 BIG WALNUT
0 6 0 0 6
CW—Davis 29 run (Thompson kick)
CW—Williams 51 pass from Beeler (Thompson kick)
CW—Smith 12 pass from Beeler (Thompson kick)
CW—Conley 63 run (Thompson kick)
BW—Lawyer 2 run (kick failed)
CW—Beeler 9 run (Thompson kick)
CW—Thompson 32 FG