Nixa downs rival Ozark, advances to district title game

 

by, Jeff Kessinger (for Ozarks Sports Zone)

OZARK, Mo. — Ramone Green has only been a member Nixa High School’s football for one season. As far as coach Rich Rehagen knows, he doesn’t even have a nickname yet. One suggestion? Jet.

The standout freshman rushed for 118 yards and a touchdown, almost exclusively on the jet sweep, to help the Eagles top arch rival Ozark 40-12 Friday in the Class 5 District 6 semifinals.

“(Green) is a good runner and he changes direction really well,” Rehagen said. “And he’s got good vision. He’s had a really nice year for a young one and I think we’ll see a lot more of that through the years.”

The game was a rematch of the Backyard Brawl, which Ozark won 21-6 back on Sept. 20. There was no trophy on the line this time, but that didn’t matter to the Eagles.

“We’ve been waiting for this game since Week 4,” Green said. “This feels great.”

Nixa led 13-6 at the half and Green, the Jet, helped Nixa pull away early in the third quarter. His 20-yard scamper pushed the Eagles’ lead to 19-6 four minutes into the second half.

Ozark fumbled away the ensuing kickoff and Nixa cashed in. Green rushed twice for seven yards, then executed a play fake that allowed Riley Childs — playing quarterback for the first time this season — to plunge through the middle of the line for a 5-yard touchdown and a 26-6 lead.

“In the first half we were close to busting loose,” Green said. “We put this package in and it worked well.”

That one play, in particular, worked well..

“Going outside, it’s easier to put one foot in the ground and look for a hole,” Green said. “It makes it easier to find a cutback. I really like running the jet sweep.”

But the Green and Childs show wasn’t over yet. After Nixa’s defense forced a 3-and-out, Green’s 11-yard run helped set up a 38-yard screen pass from starting quarterback Reid Potts to Childs for a 33-6 lead and put the game well out of reach.

“I’ve been wanting to get the ball more, so that made me happy,” Childs said. “Shoutout to the offensive line for getting some great blocks tonight. Our energy was way up in this game. We were a little dull last time and that was disappointing.”

It may have been the first time Childs joined Green and Alex Wentz in the Nixa backfield. It probably won’t be the last.

“That’s something we’ve been working on, we just haven’t done it in a game. It really worked tonight,” Rehagen said. “That really got us going. We could run outside and inside and the guys really got clicking.”

Potts and receiver Evann Long were clicking for Nixa offense in the first half. They connected seven times for 100 yards, though none of those catches ended in the end zone.

Long did make a stellar sideline catch for a 30-yard gain midway through the second quarter to set up Nixa’s second touchdown of the night. Childs punched the ball in from 1-yard out to give the Eagles a 13-6 lead with 9:17 to play before the break.

Nixa opened the scoring in the first quarter. The Ozark defense lost Sam Cochran and Potts found him for an easy 6-yard score. There were no Tigers within 10 yards of Cochran when Potts threw the ball.

Ozark answered immediately, with a seven-play, 61-yard drive. Chance Strickler dropped a 26-yard rainbow into the endzone for Skout Lave to pull Ozark within 7-6 early in the second quarter. But that was the only time the Tigers found the end zone until the game’s final seconds.

“We had a ton of penalties tonight and never could get traction,” Ozark coach Chad Depee said. “You can’t have that against Nixa and you can’t have that at this time of year.”

Potts finished 11-for-13 passing, for 156 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Childs, also a standout at linebacker, carried the ball seven times for 19 yards and three scores. He also caught that one pass for 38 yards and another TD. Long finished his night with 112 yards on nine catches.

“Riley ran the ball well tonight and he’s been solid at linebacker all year long,” Rehagen said. “He leads our team in tackles and he’s had a solid year on both sides of the ball.”

Strickler was 6-for-12 passing for 71 yards and a score. Lave had five catches for 43 yards. Ethan Pritchard led Ozark with 55 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. Tylr Bolin added 30 yards on seven carries.

“This crew is very special to me because of what they’ve done in transforming our locker room,” Depee said. “They’re really a tight-knit group of guys that have been a joy to be around all year long. They love to practice and they love to be around each other. That’s what it’s all about. We’ll miss these seniors and the 2019 team.”

Next up for Nixa is the Class 5, District 6 championship game, next Friday night at Carthage. The top-seeded Tigers, ranked fifth in the state, defeated Branson 48-10 in their semifinal game. Carthage blanked Nixa 35-0 in the season opener.

“Our top goal every year is to go win the district. Our guys have that chance, so we’ll go see what we can do,” Rehagen said.

SCORING SUMMARY

NHS 7 6 20 7 — 40

OHS 0 6 0 6 — 12

First Quarter

Nixa — Sam Cochran 6 pass from Reid Potts (Andrew Anello kick), 7-0 3:24

Second Quarter

Ozark — Skout Lave 26 pass from Chance Strickler (pass failed), 7-6, 11:51

Nixa — Riley Childs 1 run (kick failed), 13-6, 9:17

Third Quarter

Nixa — Ramone Green 20 run (Anello kick), 20-6, 8:01

Nixa — Childs 5 run (Anello kick), 27-6. 6:50

Nixa — Childs 38 pass from Potts (kick failed), 33-6, 3:12

Fourth Quarter

Nixa — Alex Wentz 11 run (Anello kick), 40-6, 2:53

Ozark — Ethan Pritchard 3 run (kick failed), 40-12, :39