Clay Archer, Contributor
BAINBRIDGE — After one of the most bizarre offseason periods in recent memory, there wouldn’t be any other way to start the 2020 football season than with heavy rain and multiple lightning delays.
But nonetheless, football was played this year as Friday Night Lights made a jubilant return.
Adena and Paint Valley celebrated that fact by scoring a combined 78 points, 56 of which came in the first half alone.
When the dust had settled, the Warriors (1-0) created separation and handed the Bearcats a 50-28 loss in Week 1 action.
“The rain delay starting off was really a kicker. The kids were upset and frustrated. They’ve been anxious to play this game,” Adena coach John Penwell said. “We came out and played a little sloppy. But that’s the benefit of having an experienced team. These guys have been through battles. They’re battle-tested. They came out and overcame adversity.”
Adena enjoyed a fast start with a five-play scoring drive that ended with quarterback Preston Sykes hitting Logan Bennett for a 20-yard touchdown pass, making it 8-0 after a successful two-point try.
Paint Valley (0-1) responded on its first drive, which ended with a 15-yard touchdown rush from Tramel Byrd. The Bearcats’ two-point try would fail, keeping the Warriors ahead, 8-6, with 5:39 left in the first quarter.
Syles immediately hit Nate Throckmorton for completions of 40 and 10 yards on the next drive before tallying a two-yard touchdown on the ground, putting Adena ahead, 16-6.
But the Bearcats continued to punch back in a game nobody picked them to win. Byrd tallied another touchdown run from 15 yards out, cutting the deficit to two at 16-14.
After three 15-yard penalties started the Warriors’ next drive, Sykes took a quarterback draw 70-plus yards to pay dirt. On the ensuing PV drive, the All-Ohio quarterback picked off a pass and took it 43 yards to the end zone, pushing Adena’s lead to 30-14 with 6:40 left in the second quarter.
“It’s not just Preston and Logan … that senior class hangs out together, they eat together and on game days, they get up and eat,” Penwell said. “They’re just buddies. It’s constant. So when they’re playing, they do a good job of playing together. That’s what football is about. It’s about relationships, friendships and a great bond.”
Paint Valley would respond.
After a 45-yard run from Byrd, Cordell Grubb punched it in to pull the Bearcats to within 10 at 30-20. Adena scored on its next drive, thanks to a 25-yard touchdown pass to Clay Wilt, to take a 36-20 lead into the locker room.
Out of the break, Paint Valley quarterback Cavan Cooper hooked up with Cole Miller for an 80-yard touchdown strike, trimming the lead to 36-28.
But that was the final time in which the Bearcats sniffed the end zone.
Adena wouldn’t have their first score until 7:33 to go in the fourth, via a one-yard keeper from Sykes, but the Warriors created separation with a late touchdown to produce the night’s final.
Sykes finished 9-of-14 passing for 108 yards and totaled 169 rushing yards on 16 carries. He accounted for six total touchdowns, three through the air, two on the ground and the interception return.
For Paint Valley, Cooper was 6-of-17 passing for 105 yards and two scores. Byrd ended the evening with 105 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Adena will now travel to Unioto in Week 2 as the Warriors get set for another important SVC matchup. Meanwhile, Paint Valley hosts Piketon, who fell to the Shermans by a 44-38 final.
“The most important week is Week 1, I think. Getting that first win is huge,” Penwell said. “Next week, we have our hands full. Unioto is good and they always play tough.”