XENIA — The Xenia Buccaneers christened Veterans Field at Doug Adams Stadium with a 27-14 win, Friday night against visiting Kettering Fairmont.
If Friday’s three-quarters of varsity action was any indication, Xenia’s defense could be exciting to watch.
The Buccaneers sacked Fairmont quarterback Korde’ Kyles four times and forced the senior to throw four interceptions.
Xenia’s Rocky James came up with two of those picks. He returned the first one 81 yards for a first-quarter touchdown.
Three of the Bucs’ four interceptions led to Xenia touchdowns.
Senior defensive lineman Ryan Hudson dropped off the line into pass protection and snared the game’s first turnover on the Firebirds’ 32-yard line. Five plays later, Tanner Steward rushed in from two yards out. A Blake Bond extra point put Xenia in front, 7-0.
James’ 81-yard return, combined with quarterback Danny Naylor’s two-point conversion pass to James, had the Buccaneers out front 15-0 with just over three minutes left to play in the first quarter.
Steward snagged a Kyles pass and returned it 23 yards to the Fairmont 2-yard line, so it only seemed appropriate that Naylor called Steward’s number on the next offensive play. Steward lumbered in from two yards out for a 21-0 Xenia lead at the half.
Fairmont’s Kyles ran in from five yards out and T.J. McManus hit the extra point to put the Firebirds on the scoreboard at 21-7 early in the third quarter. Momentum looked to be going the ‘birds way when Xenia botched the ensuing kickoff return. A heads-up play by Ray James prevented Fairmont from recording a safety on the kick, but the Bucs had to start the drive on their own 2-yard line.
And what a drive it was!
The drive’s first Xenia runner was tackled for a 1-yard loss, but 10 more plays, 99 yards and five first downs later, Xenia QB Naylor lofted a pretty 35-yard rainbow pass into the Kobe Hughlett’s belly for a touchdown. Blake Bond booted the extra point and Xenia was back in command, 27-7.
Fairmont played better in the third quarter. The Firebirds responded to Xenia’s long drive with a 7-play, 82-yard scoring drive of their own. Sophomore Jake Perkins scored from seven yards out and a Sam Byrd PAT made the final varsity score, 27-14.
Naylor completed 11 of 19 passes for 122 yards. Buc rushers carried the ball 19 times for 50 yards total, however.
Another glaring stat came in the form of penalties. Xenia was flagged seven times for 60 yards, while Fairmont committed one holding penalty for 10 yards.
Bruising Fairmont running back Nick Moreland led all ball carriers with 69 yards gained on 12 carries.
Edna Adams, the mother of the late Doug Adams, and key representatives of Miami Valley Hospital, the Wee Bucs football organization, the Club X Soccer Association and several private donors of at least $5,000 each opened the $600,000 artificial turf field with a ribbon cutting ceremony. School Superintendent Denny Morrison introduced Edna Adams and the donors, and said approximately $716,000 was raised.
“Not one dollar of this came from your tax dollars,” Morrison said. “This was all from private donations, and we are truly thankful to each one of you.”
Morrison said the excess amount has been placed in a fund that will hopefully be used to install an 8-lane track & field running track around Veterans Field.
John Bombatch can be reached at (937) 372-4444, Ext. 2123.