High school football playoffs: Unbeaten Mechanicsburg rolls to next round

Indians hammer Paint Valley 55-7

MECHANICSBURG – Aaron Conley. Jake Hurst, Keith Bebout, Chase Propst, Gabe Chandler.

“We have enough weapons that we’re going to take what you give us,” says Mechanicsburg coach Kurt Forrest. “We’ve got playmakers everywhere.”

The unbeaten and second-ranked Indians' entire offensive arsenal was on display Saturday night, and it did all the taking with six touchdowns that covered an average of 43 yards. The Indians scored eight touchdowns in all, dominating Paint Valley 55-7 in a Division VI, Region 24 quarterfinal.

“Gotta make something happen,” said Hurst, who made it look easy to catch short passes and sprint through the defense for touchdowns. “We figured out we needed to do and picked up our blocks. They were bringing a lot of guys, so we had to sort that out.”

When Paint Valley (6-2) committed to stop the run and played man-to-man on receivers, Hurst scored on an 82-yard play and two 35-yard plays.

“There’s no perfect defense in the world, so we’re going to take what you give us,” Forrest said. “It’s as simple as that.”

While Conley got the protection he needed from the offensive line, Hurst got the downfield blocks he needed to score.

“We talk about it every day that the difference between first downs and touchdowns is wide receiver blocking,” Forrest said.

When the defensive look favored the speedy Bebout on down-field passes, Conley threw his direction. Bebout made a 58-yard catch to get the Indians out of bad field position to set up one score. He also got deep for a 51-yard touchdown for a 42-7 lead halfway through the third quarter.

Conley completed 9 of 14 passes for 336 yards and four touchdowns. The running game did its part. Propst led that effort with 81 yards on six carries and touchdowns of 22 and 35 yards. Chandler’s two-yard run started the scoring.

Paint Valley averaged 47.8 points in its six victories behind a strong running game. But Mechanicsburg’s defense clogged running lanes. That, and because the Bearcats were falling behind, forced them to throw much more than usual. Bebout made the big defensive play with a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown at the end of the third quarter.

“Defensively the kids keep playing hard and playing physical, and we’re not going to beat ourselves on that side of the ball,” Forrest said.

Third-seeded Frankfort Adena, Forrest said, will bring a big, physical team with good quarterback play and a good running game to Mechanicsburg for a 7 p.m. kickoff in Saturday night’s semifinal. Adena defeated Minster 28-0 Saturday.

The Indians beat No. 8-ranked Adena 32-7 in the first round last year on their way to the region title. Adena led that game 7-6 at halftime. Adena defeated Paint Valley 50-28 to start this season.

The other semifinal pits top-ranked and top-seeded Coldwater and 10th-ranked and fourth-seeded West Jefferson.

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