By Garth Shanklin
For one final time, the Amelia Barons took to the field at Amelia High School. Fittingly enough, the team’s final home game came against one of their older rivals, the New Richmond Lions.
Unfortunately for the Barons, the Lions weren’t kind houseguests, as New Richmond racked up 441 yards of offense and defeated the Barons 41-14.
New Richmond started the scoring in the first quarter with a field goal, then added a touchdown thanks to a solid punt return by Chandler Kinhalt. He returned the ball to the Amelia 13, where T.J. Gelter would gallop into the end zone from six yards out to put the Lions ahead 10-0.
Kinhalt carried the ball into the end zone himself early in the second quarter for a five-yard touchdown, giving New Richmond a 17-0 lead.
Amelia moved the ball deep into New Richmond territory on their next drive, but a sack stalled the drive and the Barons turned the ball over on downs. New Richmond punted on their next drive, and the Barons answered with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Cage Meyer to Bobby Wilmoth for Amelia’s first score.
It didn’t take the Lions long to respond. With just 53.4 seconds remaining in the half, New Richmond threw two passes to Corey Bozic, who caught both balls for 56 yards and a touchdown. Bozic added a diving interception just before halftime to keep Amelia out of the end zone before the break. The Lions led 24-6 at halftime.
Amelia forced a fumble on New Richmond’s first drive of the second half, turning the turnover into a 22-yard touchdown pass to Mitch Mentzel. Brausch snagged the two-point reception to trim the Lions’ lead to 10.
New Richmond added a field goal with 3:04 remaining in the third quarter, then scored on a 35-yard touchdown run by Gelter to lead 34-14. Gelter added another touchdown on a 35-yard reception late in the fourth quarter for New Richmond’s final score.
Amelia head coach Dave Brausch said the team played better than it would appear, but a few plays that didn’t go their way helped the Lions turn the tide.
“We played well at times,” Brausch said. “We were right there towards the end of the half, we just seemed like we were a play away from where we need to be. That sounds funny in a ballgame decided by as many points as that was, but we would’ve made it a ballgame. We let them score before half, which took a little bite out of our sails.”
New Richmond head coach Josh Stratton also thought his team played better, especially in the penalty department.
“We had some sophomoric moments, but we bounced back when we needed to,” Stratton said. “I thought our offensive line played well. We cut down our penalties, which had been a huge problem. We were averaging 10 penalties per game, and we cut that way down tonight. We only had three or four, so I’m really proud of that.”
The Lions’ defense held Amelia’s potent running attack to just 53 total yards on 32 attempts,. Eli Altherr, the Barons’ leading rusher, managed just 26 yards on 15 carries. Brausch tipped his cap to the Lions’ run defense.
“We have been running the ball well the last couple weeks and they shut us down, I have to give them credit,” Brausch said.
Stratton said the Lions were able to contain the Barons’ rushing attack because stopping the run is what the team hangs their hat on.
“We just played downhill, that’s who we are,” Stratton said. “Our identity on defense is that you’re not going to run the ball against us. We take a lot of pride in that. We play physical on defense. I think our defensive line is one of the best I’ve been around. Those are bad dudes. Our linebackers get better every week.”
Offensively for New Richmond, quarterback Josh Anderson completed 10 of 21 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns. Gelter carried the ball for 183 yards and three touchdowns, earning praise from his coach.
“I think some guys made plays when we needed them,” Stratton said. “Our tailback, T.J Gelter, had an outstanding game tonight. They did an outstanding job keeping the ball away from us, they ran around the same amount of plays we did and we’re an up-tempo team. Hats off to them and their coaching staff, they did an outstanding job of that.”
While Amelia’s offense ran a lot of plays, the team’s biggest issue could be boiled down to one word, according to Brausch.
“Inconsistency. We had a breakdown in protection or a breakdown in a route. It wasn’t any one thing, everyone has to take a turn. We just couldn’t put it together,” he said.
New Richmond’s receiving corps was led by Gage Kramer, who caught three passes for 46 yards and a touchdown. Bozic also hauled in three passes, totaling 62 yards and a score. Kinhalt added three receptions for 79 yards while Gelter’s lone grab went for 38 and a touchdown.
The finality of the game was not lost on either coach, with Stratton remarking on the feeling of being undefeated against the Barons.
“It’s nice,” Stratton said. “To be here four years and be 4-0 against Amelia, it’s always an up-and-down game. It’s a weird feeling when we play them. They always prepare well.
Brausch, meanwhile took a more somber approach, discussing the team’s emotions after playing in their home stadium for the final time.
“When you have someone say last time ever for a senior, that’s one thing,” Brausch said. “But this was for everybody. Everybody was a senior for a few brief moments.”
New Richmond has two home games left in the regular season. The Lions will face Walton Verona in New Richmond at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 21. Amelia visits Goshen also on Oct. 21 at 7 p.m.