High School Football: Stebbins dominant in road win at Northwestern

Stebbins High School junior Adrian Norton leaps over Northwestern's Austin Ernst to catch a touchdown pass during their game on Thursday, Aug. 19 at Taylor Field in Springfield. The Indians won 55-14. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER
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Stebbins High School junior Adrian Norton leaps over Northwestern's Austin Ernst to catch a touchdown pass during their game on Thursday, Aug. 19 at Taylor Field in Springfield. The Indians won 55-14. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER

SPRINGFIELD — A year after winning its second league title in school history, the Stebbins High School football team picked up right where it left off.

Indians senior quarterback Nate Keller went 7-for-8 for 138 yards and four touchdowns as Stebbins rolled to a 55-14 victory over host Northwestern on Thursday night at Taylor Field. It was the third straight season-opening victory for the Indians.

“Two years ago, we competed every first half and kind of got away from it in the second half,” said Indians coach Greg Bonifay. “Last year, we were able to finish a lot of games and won our second-ever league title in school history. This year, these kids understand and know how to win. They just know what feels better.”

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Indians junior Adrian Norton caught three passes for 55 yards with three TDs, while senior Clayton Lambert also caught a 13-yard TD. Sophomores Lavell Lyles and Rayvonn Harris-Belle each ran for a TD.

“It all came from preparation and trusting my teammates,” Keller said. “We had a good week of practice, a lot of focus and it paid off (tonight).”

The Indians opened the game with seven straight touchdowns to take a 48-0 lead midway through the second quarter.

“Our kids were well-prepared and ready to play football,” Bonifay said. “That’s something we’ve been focusing on for the past year-and-a-half — on the road, we’ve got to come ready to play.”

Northwestern High School senior Kolten Berner motions to stiff arm Stebbins freshman Landon Wickman during their game on Thursday, Aug. 19 at Taylor Field in Springfield. The Indians won 55-14. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER
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Northwestern High School senior Kolten Berner motions to stiff arm Stebbins freshman Landon Wickman during their game on Thursday, Aug. 19 at Taylor Field in Springfield. The Indians won 55-14. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER

Defensively, the Indians caused four turnovers, including a 14-yard interception return touchdown by Javin Mack-Brown.

Sophomore quarterback Nate Thrash threw a 15-yard TD pass to senior Shawn Dozier to make it 55-0 with four minutes remaining in the second quarter.

Northwestern scored just before halftime on a 60-yard TD pass from sophomore Jacob Shaffer to senior Dawson Thomas.

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“(Bonifay) has done a good job building the program,” said Warriors coach Nick Bandstra. “That’s what our goal is, to build a program to that point. We saw sparks of things, we’ve just got to get better and we’ve got to execute. That’s our main focus right now.”

Bandstra challenged his team not to give up in the second half. Warriors senior Kolten Berner rushed for 94 yards and 17 carries, including a 9-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.

“Our kids responded well,” Bandstra said. “We have a lot of things to fix, but I think we’re headed in the right direction.”

Stebbins hosts Greenville next week in a Miami Valley League crossover game. The Green Wave (0-1) beat Stebbins 21-10 in 2019.

“They play us tough every year,” Bonifay said. “We’ve got to come ready to play.”

Northwestern hosts former Central Buckeye Conference rival Greenon in Week 2. It’s the first time the two Clark County schools have played since 2016.