By David Fong
Regional Sports Content Manager
CASSTOWN — It was the type of dream season usually reserved for March around Miami East High School.
At a school known best of its successful basketball programs the past two decades, the Miami East football season soared to unprecedented heights in 2013, going 9-1 in the regular season, earning the top seed in the Division VI, Region 22 computer standings and picking up the first playoff win in school history.
What ended up as a dream season for the Vikings nearly began as a nightmare, however.
In the season opener, Miami East trailed county rival Milton-Union 14-3 at halftime, before rallying to pull out an 18-14 victory in the second half on touchdown runs by Alex Brewer and Colton McKinney and a 42-yard field goal by Michael Fellers.
Miami East’s next five games weren’t nearly as dramatic, however, as the Vikings rolled to wins over National Trail (42-13), Ansonia (49-0), Arcanum (49-13), Mississinawa Valley (42-7) and Bethel (51-0) to open Cross County Conference play.
Against National Trail, the Vikings jumped out to a 35-6 halftime lead. Fellers would end his night scoring two touchdowns on the ground and catching a 59-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Conner Hellyer, who completed 9 of 11 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns.
The following week against Ansonia, Miami East’s defense pitched a shutout. Fellers rushed for four touchdowns, while Hellyer threw for two touchdowns, an 84-yard strike to Fellers and an 11-yard scoring toss to McKinney.
Hellyer continued to have a hot hand the next week against Arcanum, completing 5 of 7 passes for 119 yards and a 68-yard touchdown pass to Fellers. Robbie Adams had just six carries in the game, but racked up 121 rushing yards and a pair of touchdown runs. Fellers continued to do a little bit of everything for the Vikings, scoring on a pair of touchdown runs, collecting the TD pass from Hellyer and returning a 70-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
The Vikings continued their offense-by-committee approach the next week against Mississinawa Valley … and it was Brewer’s turn to shine. On just eight carries, he rushed for 138 and touchdown runs of 20 and 77 yards. Fellers, meanwhile, had a pair of touchdown runs and scored on a 44 yard pass from Hellyer. Hellyer completed just three passes on the night (in five attempts), but two of them went for touchdowns, including a scoring strike to McKinney.
The East defense recorded its second shutout of the season the following week against county rival Bethel. Offensively, it was McKinney who topped the 100-yard mark, carrying the ball 10 times for 125 yards and touchdown runs of 77 and 2 yards. Adams, Brewer and Fellers also had touchdown runs for the Vikings.
The win over Bethel left Miami East at 6-0, 5-0 in the CCC, heading into a Week 7 showdown with undefeated Covington. The Buccaneers would defeat Miami East 34-0 on its way to earning the CCC title. Miami East had little time to mourn the loss, however, as 6-1 Tri-County North hosted the Vikings in Week 8.
Miami East would recover from the loss to Covington by defeating TC North 24-21 in overtime. The Panthers jumped out to a 14-0 lead, but Miami East bounced back with touchdown runs by McKinney and Brewer. At halftime, TC North led 21-14. Both teams played a scoreless second half until East tied the game on a 2-yard run by Brewer. In overtime, Fellers booted a 26-yard field and East’s defense shut down the Panthers to preserve the win.
Miami East would close out the regular season with blowout wins over Bradford (45-14) and Twin Valley South (39-6). Against the Railroaders, Fellers scored two rushing touchdowns, caught a touchdown pass and scored on a 58-yard punt return. Against TV South, McKinney had a pair of touchdown runs, while Hellyer threw two touchdown passes to Fellers.
The win over TV South left Miami East 9-1 at the end of the regular season and earned the Vikings the top-seed in the region heading into the playoffs.
In the regional quarterfinals, Miami East met TC North in a rematch. In the second meeting the results were far less dramatic. Miami East raced out to a 24-0 lead and never looked back. Fellers completed his night with 11 carries for 71 yards and four catches for 92 yards and a touchdown.
Miami East’s season would end the following week with a 31-14 loss to Mechanicsburg in the Division VI regional semifinals.
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong