Indians celebrate first title since ‘77

Southern’s River Pappas (35) stretches toward the end zone and pushes through Leetonia’s Dylan Durrick (44) and Mike Miller (3) on Friday. (Salem News/Patti Schaeffer)

LEETONIA–Southern Local ended its regular season with a muddy and rain soaked 22-0 victory over Leetonia Friday capturing a share of its first league championship since 1977.

“Leetonia played extremely hard and field conditions were a little rough. We’re just happy to be going to week 11. We have some stuff to work on but it was just a tough place to play tonight,” said Southern coach Rich Wright.

The Indians are 9-1 overall and 6-1 in the Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference (EOAC). Not only does their record put them into the playoffs but it also gives them a share of the EOAC title with United and Columbiana.

“It’s one of the toughest regions I’ve ever been involved in,” said Wright. “I mean we’re 9-1 and there’s some 9-1 teams that didn’t make it in.”

Who the Indians play next week will remain in the air until later today.

Neither team benefited from the rain as both offenses struggled to gain yardage and hold onto the football.

The Bears (4-6,1-6) committed seven fumbles in the first half, losing four. One of those fumbles proved costly as the Indians’ Mark Soukup recovered the loose ball in the end zone for a touchdown just minutes into the second quarter. Soukup’s recovery gave Southern the 14-0 lead.

“It was definitely slick,” said Soukup. “The kid just dropped the ball and it fell into my arms.”

Also getting fumble recoveries for the Indians were Josh Pratt, Jacob Spencer and Bradly Sloan.

When asked how it feels to be going to playoffs Soukup was able to answer for his team.

“It feels good. This is what we’ve been performing for since football season ended last year,” said Soukup.

The Indians weren’t immune to the drops committing two of their own and losing one. Marco Ferry came up with the fumble recovery for Leetonia.

Southern’s pass heavy style was limited by the rain with the Indians having only 93 yards through the air. Quarterback Jayce Sloan went 7-of-19 with one touchdown and one interception. Sloan’s touchdown pass, a 25-yarder to Cam Groadhaus, was the game’s first score. The Indians ran for 137 yards making their game total only 230 total yards. Leading Southern was Groadhaus who was 5-for-81 on the ground and had four receptions for 55 yards and the touchdown. Dylan Milhoan had four carries for 42 yards and the games final score on a 16-yard run.

Leetonia, a run heavy team, was only able to churn out 134 total yards, 109 of which came on the ground. Ferry had the majority of the Bears yardage, gaining 74 yards on 25 carries.

“We played hard. Our kids have nothing to be ashamed of. We’re proud of them and we came up short. Sometimes you run out of time and that’s what happened to us tonight,” said Leetonia coach Paul Hulea.

Quarterback Brock Simpson was 3-of-6 for 25 yards. Alex Waterbeck’s interception with under three minutes left in the third quarter, started a Bears possession that kept the ball out of the Indians’ hands until there was 1:36 remaining in the game

Leetonia found out after the game that it was eliminated from playoff contention, but the team still had a season to remember.

“When we came in they were 3-37 in the last 40 (games) and we’re sitting at 4-6 right now. It hurts but I think we’re going to wake up tomorrow and realize that we accomplished some great things this year,” said Hulea.

SOUTHERN:8-7-8-0–22

LEETONIA: 0-0-0-0–0

SCORING

S–Jayce Sloan 25 pass to Cam Groadhaus (Nick Paxson run)

S–Mark Soukup fumble recovery in endzone (run fail)

S–Dylan Milhoan 16 run (Sloan pass to Groadhaus)

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S L

First Downs 8 8

Total Yards 230 134

Rushes-Yards 14-137 39-109

Passing 93 25

Comp-Att-Int 7-19-1 3-6-0

Fumbles-Lost 2-1 7-4

Penalties-Yards 2-15 3-22

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INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

RUSHING-Southern, Cam Groadhaus 5-81, Dylan Milhoan 4-42, River Pappas 4-21; Leetonia, Marco Ferry 25-74.

PASSING-Southern, Jayce Sloan, 7-19-93-1-1; Leetonia, Brock Simpson, 3-6-25-0

RECEIVING-Southern, Cam Groadhaus 4-55; Leetonia, Mike MIller 2-22.

INTERCEPTIONS-Leetonia, Alex Waterbeck.

FUMBLE RECOVERIES-Southern 4, (Mark Soukup, Josh Pratt, Jacob Spencer, Bradly Sloan); Leetonia 1, (Marco Ferry)

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