John Bruce, Contributor
Bainbridge — Behind a Herculean effort from Cavan Cooper and a stout defensive performance, the Paint Valley Bearcats rolled over visiting Blanchester to open their season with a victory on Thursday.
Cooper, the Bearcats junior signal-caller, scored four times as the Bearcats showed no hospitality in a 35-7 win.
The Wildcats — 6-2 in 2020 — quickly marched into the Bearcats’ red zone on their opening possession, but would stall out at the 13-yard line. When Paint Valley (1-0) took over, it appeared to quickly stall out on its own … before a gutsy call from coach Corey Dye sparked the Bearcats’ offense.
Facing 4th and 9 at his own 14, coach Dye sent the punt team on, but senior punter Cordell Grubb rolled to his right and pulled the ball down, broke a tackle and picked up 11 yards for a game-changing first down.
On the very next play, Cooper showed why he is so highly touted as he read the defense perfectly on an option play and then outran the Wildcats’ defense for a 75-yard score.
Blanchester (0-1) appeared to be undeterred by Cooper’s jaunt and drove down inside the Bearcats’ red zone again. But the Wildcats once again came up empty-handed, ending on a leaping interception by Justin Hall in the end zone.
Nine plays later, Cooper powered into the end zone from two yards out to make it a two-score game. On the scoring drive, the middle of the Bearcats’ line — Kaden Henderson, Peyton Bell, and Bryce Hill — would open up glaring holes, a trend that would continue throughout the evening.
The Bearcats did see some injuries in the backfield, which led to a change at quarterback, but not in their offensive prowess. Cooper would switch to running back, while fellow junior Dax Estep would take over the quarterback duties. With Estep at QB, the Bearcats’ offense looked and attacked differently, but was just as effective. Estep would finish the first half perfect on his four pass attempts and connected on two touchdown throws.
Late in the half, Estep hit senior Trent Mettler from 10 yards out for a score where Mettler made an outstanding diving catch going to his right. Then, on the first play after Beau Blankenship recovered a bad snap, Estep linked up with Cooper out of the backfield for an 18-yard score just before halftime.
While the offense was clicking, the Bearcats’ defense was extremely disruptive, constantly putting pressure on sophomore quarterback Bryce Sipple. Henderson and Blankenship flooded the backfield repeatedly, while Grubb, Hall and Cooper flew around on the odd occasion that the Wildcats would break through. The Bearcats’ starting defensive unit forced three turnovers, all of which would be turned into points by the offense.
The last score of the evening for the Bearcats came as Estep hit a streaking Cooper from 34 yards out to put the black and yellow ahead 35-0 and end the night for the starters.
The Wildcats finally broke into the scoring column with only 11 seconds remaining in the game as Adam Frump scored from a yard out.
The Bearcats will next travel to West Jefferson in Week 2. The Roughriders are coming off of a 7-2 season that was ended in the third round of the playoffs by eventual state champion Coldwater.
5:49 – PV – Cavan Cooper 75 yard run (Dax Estep Kick) – 7-0 PV
5:58 – PV – Cooper 2 yard run (Cordell Grubb run) – 15-0 PV
1:06 – PV – Estep 10 yard pass to Trent Mettler (Estep Kick) – 22-0 PV
0:38 – PV – Estep 18 yard pass to Cooper (Estep Kick) – 29-0 PV
8:46 – PV – Estep 34 yard pass to Cooper (Kick blocked) – 35-0 PV
0:11 – BL – Adam Frump 1 yard run (Bryan Bandow Kick) – 35-7 PV
Paint Valley — Estep 7-for-11, 166 yards, 3 TD, INT; Cooper 4-for-5, 27 yards
Blanchester — Bryce Sipple 11-for-24, 124 yards, INT; Frump 1-for-1, 17 yards
Paint Valley — Cooper 10 carries, 117 yards, 2 TD; Grubb 7 carries, 43 yards; Eli Manion 4 carries, 2 yards; Dom Chambers 1 carry, 15 yards; Mettler 1 carry, 5 yards
Blanchester — Sipple 14 carries, 69 yards; Frump 3 carries, 0 yards, TD; Sebastian Smith 3 carries, 0 yards; Bandow 2 carries, 4 yards
Paint Valley — Beau Blankenship 2 receptions, 74 yards; Cooper 2 receptions, 52 yards, 2 TD; Mettler 2 receptions, 15 yards, TD; Grubb 2 receptions, 10 yards; Dillon McDonald 1 reception, 25 yards; Estep 1 reception, 11 yards; Manion 1 reception, 6 yards
Blanchester — Smith 5 receptions, 52 yards; Dustin Trace 3 receptions, 51 yards; Bandow 1 receptions, 17 yards; Frump 1 reception, 10 yards; Carson Curless 1 reception, 10 yards; Dylan Creager 1 reception, 4 yards
|12-25, 141 yards||Passing||11-16, 193 yards|
|22 rushes, 73 yards||Rushing||23 rushes, 182 yards|
|47 plays, 214 yards||Offense||39 plays, 375 yards|
|6 – 35 yards||Penalties||4 – 35 yards|