High school football playoffs: Big second half lifts Shawnee past Blanchester

Braves will host Cincinnati Mariemont on Saturday in regional semifinals

BLANCHESTER — The Shawnee High School football team is back the Division V, Region 20 semifinals for the second straight season.

The seventh-seeded Braves scored 17 unanswered points to beat second-seeded Blanchester 23-6 in a Region 20 quarterfinal game on Saturday night at Blanchester High School Stadium.

“It wasn’t flashy,” said Braves coach Rick Meeks. “We were a little sloppy, but we pulled it out.”

Braves senior quarterback Drew Mitch went 10-for-18 for 167 yards and a TD through the air and rushed for 39 yards for a TD as Shawnee improved to 5-2 overall. Junior running back Tyler Mercer rushed for 78 yards and a TD, senior Evan Thomas caught a touchdown pass and Adam Myers hit a 37-yard field goal for the Braves.

The Braves caused four Blanchester turnovers, including interceptions by senior Jamon Miller and junior David Hawk.

Shawnee struggled in the first half as it adjusted to the slick turf at Blanchester. The Braves had several negative plays as they continually fell to the ground.

“Every time we tried to make a cut, we were slipping,” Meeks said. “It was like a skating rink. That kind of hurt us.”

Shawnee took a 6-0 lead on a 1-yard run by Mitch midway through the second quarter.

The Wildcats tied the score on a 23-yard run by Blake Richard with 1:54 remaining. Blanchester recovered an onside kick following the TD, but they were unable to capitalize on the turnover.

“I told the kids at halftime: The ball couldn’t roll against us any worse and we’re tied,” Meeks said. “The kids came out and fought hard in the second half and we were able to get the win.”

Shawnee opened the second half with a 13-play, 65-yard drive that resulted in a 4-yard TD run by Mercer. The Braves recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and took a 10-point lead after Myers hit a 37-yard field goal.

“It put us up two scores when (Blanchester) was having trouble moving the ball and putting points on the board,” Meeks said. “When we got up two scores, I felt pretty comfortable with the way the defense was playing as a unit overall. We played well.”

With about eight minutes remaining, the Braves drove the ball 87 yards on 11 plays, scoring on a 10-yard TD pass from Mitch to Evan Thomas, sealing the victory for Shawnee.

Shawnee advanced to host Cincinnati Mariemont (6-3) at 7 p.m. Saturday. Mariemont, the No. 11 seed, beat Purcell-Marian 33-8 on Saturday night. The Braves fell to West Jefferson in the regional semifinals last season.

“To get back here, it’s awesome with as much as we lost off of last year’s team,” Meeks said. “We’re a lot younger and inexperienced than we were last year. We want to win the next one and get to the regional finals.”

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