High school football: Top-ranked Mechanicsburg blows past No. 7 Southeastern

MECHANICSBURG — Earlier this week, the Mechanicsburg High School football team was ranked alone atop the Associated Press state poll for the first time since 1970.

The No. 1 Indians proved worthy of their ranking in a Week 4 battle of unbeaten top-10 Division VII teams.

Mechanicsburg junior quarterback Jayden Roland threw two touchdown passes and blocked a punt and returned it for another score as the Indians beat No. 7 Southeastern 50-20 in an Ohio Heritage Conference crossover game Friday night.

“(Roland) is a phenomenal kid and he loves the game of football,” said Indians coach Kurt Forrest. “When you put the ball in his hands, good things are going to happen. He’s a terrific athlete who has a knack for the game. He throws a beautiful deep ball. They’ve got a good thing going between him and Kailen there. Hopefully we can keep that going all year. He can do magic with his feet too. He’s a tough kid to defend when you get him rolling.”

Sophomore running back Gabe Hursey rushed for three TDs, senior running back Charlie Bradford rushed for two TDs and sophomore wideout Kailen Butler caught two TD passes as Mechanicsburg won its 20th straight regular season game.

Southeastern junior quarterback Zack McKee threw two TD passes — one to junior running back Jonah Asebrook and another to junior running back Dallas Coffey — and sophomore running back Hayden Davis scored a rushing TD for the Trojans, who fell to 3-1 overall.

The Indians scored on a 3-yard run by Hursey to take an early 6-0 lead. On its first possession, Southeastern drove into Indians territory, but McKee’s pass was tipped and intercepted by Roland. A few plays later, Hursey scored on a 16-yard run to make it 13-0.

Southeastern was pushed back on its next drive by multiple penalties and was forced to punt. On the next play, Roland hit Butler on a 59-yard TD pass to give the Indians a 19-0 lead.

“They opened up with a bang,” said Indians coach Kurt Forrest. “We’ve got a kid on the outside who we think is pretty electric (in Butler). If you leave one person on (Butler), we have a good feeling he’s going to make some plays for us and tonight he was able to do that. Obviously, it was a very physical ballgame. Southeastern is a much improved team. The kids were able to still run the ball consistently and I was very proud of that.”

Southeastern cut the lead to 25-7 on a 2-yard TD by Davis, but the Indians led 38-14 at the half and scored on their first possession of the second half to start the running clock.

“They came out hot,” said Trojans coach A.J. Woods. “We came out lethargic, kind of testing the waters a little bit and they came out and punched us in the mouth. When you let a good team get up on you like that, it’s really hard to crawl back into it. Our young men played their hearts out. It’s a tough game. (Mechanicsburg) is tough and they’re going to win a lot of football games this year.”

Southeastern will face another tough OHC North opponent next week when undefeated Northeastern travels to Trojan Stadium.

“We made a lot of mistakes, but it was a lot of mistakes that can be fixed,” Woods said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do this weekend to get ready for Northeastern next week. We’re going to be ready.”

Mechanicsburg will travel to Jamestown for a game against 3-1 Greeneview. Forrest will see a familiar face across the sidelines in former Indians coach Neal Kasner, who now serves as the Rams offensive coordinator.

“It’s always fun to compete against guys who have taught you so much and have been mentors to you in the past,” Forrest said.

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