By John Bombatch
FAIRBORN — They knew they wouldn’t get to play in the postseason, so the visiting Xenia Buccaneers gave Friday’s final regular season game of their season everything they had, in a 52-7 win over Fairborn.
Xenia scored on five of its first six possessions, and they scored another touchdown on Jonny Shampton Jr’s 45-yard interception. Later in the game, Shampton had snared another Fairborn pass and returned it for a score, but that one was called back on a penalty.
Bucs coach Bob DeLong said he felt a great sense of pride in his team for never giving up, despite a slow start. Xenia lost to a very good Beavercreek team and perennial playoff contenders Cincinnati Moeller and Kings Mills Kings in successive weeks to start the season 0-3, but then won five of its final seven games.
“Oh yeah. It’s a credit to our kids and our coaches. They just went to work every day,” DeLong said. “We saw the improvement coming, but we weren’t getting the results. We had the two tough losses — to Springboro and on a field goal as time expired to Miamisburg — and that was tough.
“You want your team to be playing its best at the end of the season, and that’s what we were doing.”
A fight broke out late in the first half, after Ray James returned a Skyhawks punt to the Fairborn 14-yard line. When the dust had settled and one Skyhawk player was booted from the contest, Xenia scored to make it 38-0 in the Bucs’ favor.
Fairborn’s Aron Childers hauled in a 27-yard Wesley Watts pass for the Skyhawks’ lone score.
“I just feel bad for our seniors,” Fairborn coach Roy Thobe said. “We made too many mistakes early on, and Xenia took advantage of them. We just didn’t have enough weapons to make any sort of a comeback. I just wish it would’ve ended better for the seniors.”
Ray James began the Xenia second half with a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Tanner Steward played offense, defense, and special teams for Xenia. He capped the night’s scoring with a 3-yard run in the third quarter for the final score.
Xenia senior quarterback Danny Naylor completed 14-of-22 passes for 177 yards and TD passes to Ray and Rocky James, and Mechi Harris. Six Buccaneers combined efforts to gain 130 yards on the ground, with TD runs by Naylor and Steward.
Fairborn’s QB duo of Watts and Brent Grody completed 20-of-38 passes for 233 yards and a score, but had three interceptions.
Blake Bond was a perfect 7-for-7 in extra-point tries. He also booted a 33-yard field goal in the Xenia win.
Xenia finished the year with a 5-5 overall record, and 3-2 in the Greater Western Ohio Conference’s South Division. Fairborn ended the season 2-8, 1-4 GWOC South.
DeLong was especially proud of his senior class.
“It was a great group. They raised the bar around here. You look at a guy like Tanner Steward. He ran the ball, blocked, played offensive line, and was in at linebacker tonight. It’s that kinda group. … There’s so many great guys on this class … Danny (Naylor), Rocky (James) … They’ll all really be missed,” he said.
Score By Quarters
Xenia 21 17 14 0 — 52
Fairborn 0 7 0 0 — 7
X — Danny Naylor 2 run, Blake Bond kick
X — Ray James 15 pass from Naylor, Bond kick
X — Jonny Shampton 48 interception return, Bond kick
X — Rocky James 31 pass from Naylor, Bond kick
X — Bond 33 field goal
X — Mechi Harris 26 pass from Naylor, Bond kick
F — Aron Childers 27 pass from Wesley Watts, Adam Knaub kick
X — Ray James 95 kickoff return, Bond kick.
X — Tanner Steward 3 run, Bond kick.