By Chris Chaney
Before New Richmond stepped off the field on Oct. 5 following a 48-24 loss to Amelia, the Lions’ fourth in a row and fifth on the season, head coach Scott Herman challenged the team to finish the year strongly.
“After the Amelia game, we talked about having three games left and how do we want this season to end,” Herman said. “We really wanted to play well against Goshen and then go into the game against CNE with some momentum.”
The Lions were able to do just that on Friday night as all three phases of their game clicked and New Richmond toppled Goshen 35-7 to get their first home win of the season.
“We played really physical on defense and tackled a lot better, which we’ve been waiting for that to happen,” Herman said. “We didn’t turn the ball over (on offense). We moved the ball and we were able to score. Our kids were ready play, no doubt about it. There was a little buzz before the game.
“We didn’t really make any mistakes in the kicking game and then we were able to move the ball and score. We’ve been able to move the ball all year, but at times have had trouble scoring. I was really pleased with how our kids played.”
The Lions came out of the locker room fired up with that buzz that Herman described.
The New Richmond defense clamped down on a Goshen rushing attack that was missing its key cog, Marcus Casey, who was out with a knee injury. Still, with weapons like quarterback Brandon Steele and full back Aaron Worley, the Lions’ defense did a good job of meeting the Warriors in the hole and stopping them for minimal yardage.
On the offensive side of the ball, the New Richmond rushing attack gave the Goshen defense a steady dose of their own medicine, running the ball by committee.
Led by Tyler Anderson’s 170 yards, the Lions gained 313 of their 342 yards on the ground.
“Tyler’s been banged up all year with shoulder issues and a concussion and that was the first game that he’s been healthy,” Herman said. “It was good to see him out there, especially as a sophomore, making the first guy miss and making some great cuts.”
Anderson ran the ball 21 times on the night and found the end zone on three of those runs.
While the skill players may get the headlines, Herman was quick to point out that it was his guys in the trenches that made the big nights for the running backs possible.
“Our offensive line did a great job firing off and making key blocks (that made the big runs possible),” the coach said.
Aside from Anderson, junior quarterback Levi Simpson did an admirable job running the Lions’ offense. Simpson combined for 80 total yards and two touchdowns, mixing in the pass with the steady running attack.
“Levi did a great job running the offense,” Herman said. “He’s a great game manager and that’s what we need from that position. He’s getting better each week and he’s become the leader of our offense. It seems like whenever we get in a little hole, he’ll make the right read and get us out of it. He’s growing up as the season’s going and we’re really pleased with the way he’s come on.”
Also offensively, the Lions had solid contributions from James White and Clay Loadman who combined for 62 yards of offense.
However, it was the New Richmond defense that really made a statement allowing their fewest points of the season.
“We were able to move our front and cause some havoc for (Goshen),” Herman said. “We played with a ton of intensity on defense and we didn’t miss a lot of tackles, which really helps. The guys really came to play defensively and we were really physical, which I was pleased with.”
The Lions moved to 3-5 on the season and 1-3 in the Southern Buckeye Conference American Division while Goshen fell to an even 4-4 overall and 0-4 in the American Division.
Both teams have two games remaining to end their seasons on a high note. New Richmond finishes with games at Clermont Northeastern and versus Bethel-Tate.
Goshen will host Blanchester and Williamsburg to wrap up their 2012 campaign.