High School Football: Shawnee advances to regional finals for first time since 2011

Braves beat Mariemont 21-7, will meet Roger Bacon with trip to state semifinals on the line

SPRINGFIELD — The Shawnee High School football team is back in the regional finals for the first time since 2011 — and they did it with a steady dose of backfield duo Tyler Mercer and Drew Mitch.

The seventh-seeded Braves scored 14 unanswered points in the second half to beat 11th-seeded Cincinnati Mariemont 21-7 in a Division V regional semifinal game on Saturday night at Shawnee High School.

“We made it farther than we did last year, especially with all the seniors we graduated last year. We were able to piece some things together and get it done with all of the young kids we’re playing,” said Shawnee coach Rick Meeks. “It’s awesome. I’m really pleased. Everything from here is icing on top of the cake.”

Shawnee rushed for rushed for 274 yards, outgaining the Warriors 319-186. Mercer rushed for 176 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries, while Mitch ran for 89 yards and a TD on 15 carries.

“(Mariemont) likes to get up the field, so we ran a few schemes to take advantage of it,” Meeks said.

Mercer scored on a 19-yard run with 4:28 remaining in the first quarter to give Shawnee a 7-0 lead.

The Warriors tied the game when quarterback Andrew Glassmeyer hit Ethan Malafa on an 8-yard TD pass with 6:16 remaining in the first half.

Shawnee continued to run the ball in the second quarter, but penalties and a turnover cost the Braves.

“We just killed ourselves,” Meeks said. “It was us making a ton of mistakes. It could’ve been a lot different. That’s what I told the kids at halftime. We dominated the first half, but the bad news was that it’s 7-7. The longer that goes on … all it takes is one fluke play and they can score and they can beat you.”

The Braves opened the second half with a 12-play, 71-yard drive that took more than six minutes off the clock, scoring on a 6-yard run by Mitch.

“We just came out and wanted to handle things,” Meeks said. “Our O-line had been dominant with their front in the first half and we were going to stick with it. We weren’t doing anything fancy out of it. The line took us down the field.”

Fifty seconds into the fourth quarter, Shawnee took a 21-7 lead on a 10-yard run by Mercer.

“(Mercer) is a tough runner,” Meeks said. “As time has gone on, he’s starting to get the nuances to the run schemes.”

Mariemont drove into the Shawnee territory three times in the final eight minutes, but were unable to find the end zone. The Warriors best chance came with 4:27 remaining at the Braves 25-yard line, but Glassmeyer’s pass was intercepted by David Hawk in the end zone.

Defensively, the Braves caused two turnovers and sacked Glassmeyer six times, including three by freshman defensive tackle Braylon Brim and two by senior Brayden Bailey.

The Braves (6-2) will travel to top-seeded St. Bernard Roger Bacon (9-0) at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7, for the D-V, Region 20 final. The Spartans beat fourth-seeded Versailles 31-28 in the other semifinal game.

Shawnee is seeking its first state semifinal appearance since 2011.

“This is all icing on the cake,” Meeks said. “If you would’ve told me earlier this year we’d be playing in the regional finals, I would’ve told you you were crazy. It’s a credit to the kids. They’ve worked hard.”

About the Author