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South Warren’s Defense Stifles Bowling Green: “We take back the city”

South Warren’s defense was outstanding in the Spartan’s 10-7 victory over Bowling Green in Kroger’s KSR Game of the Week. The Spartans broke a scoreless tie with a 9-minute, 94-yard drive capped by a 22-yard Elder Dervisevic field goal with 10:38 remaining in the game. Caden Veltkamp, a junior QB with an offer from UK, made it 10-0 with a 5-yard TD run four minutes later. The Purples only touchdown came with 19 seconds remaining on a 3-yard Javy Bunton run, which was too little too late for Bowling Green.  

Bowling Green came in ranked No. 7 and South Warren at No. 9 in the KSR state rankings, which are regardless of class. The victory was important for a South Warren team that finished 10-2 last year but lost to Bowling Green in the regular season and second round of the 5A playoffs.

“This means a lot, we take back the city, that is what we wanted,” Veltkamp said. “Last year didn’t come out like we wanted to, so this year I feel like we really made a statement here.”  

Take out that final 71-yard drive and the Spartans limited the Purples to a mere 158 yards from scrimmage. Junior linebackers Luke Burton and Tyler Snell keyed the fierce Spartan defense, often making key third down stops in the backfield forcing Bowling Green to punt.

“The game plan was really to stop the run and force them to pass the ball,” Burton told KSR after the game.  “I think we exceled at that.” Asked about what makes this defense so special, Burton mentioned the group’s chemistry. “We are really close, we are all about the same age, we grew up together, so I think that helps a bunch.”

The scary thing is that South Warren did all their damage with senior safety Jantzen Dunn, a four-star Ohio State commit sidelined with an injury. He has not played this season but is expected to return soon. Once that happens this defense will be even more potent.

“I thought the defense played well,” Spartan coach Brandon Smith said. “I thought we played smart.  We haven’t been doing that, we struggled with that last year, but I think mentally they were very with it in the game, recognizing what was going on.”

Bowling Green was missing their top wide receiver, Dez Wilson, who was lost for the season due to injury in week two. They struggled to get much going in the passing game, but UK target Jordan Dingle did haul in a 34-yard reception from Conner Cooper. 

 

Cooper was 8-for-17 passing for 117 yards. Burton ran 19 times for 72 yards.  

Both teams dominated on defense in the first half. Junior Jeremiah Lightfoot and seniors Rece Jones and and Eli Burwash stood out on defense for the Purples. Dingle also played some of defense and made a few nice plays. Bowling Green has only allowed 16 points all season and shut out St. Xavier in week one.  

South Warren recovered a Bowling Green fumble on the Purple’s 15-yard line on the first possession of the game. The Spartans ended up missing a 37-yard field goal, though. Bowling Green recovered a Spartan fumble on the Purple’s 24-yard line late in the first quarter. Not much happened after that until the Spartans second possession of the third quarter.

South Warren took over in the shadow of their own goal line with 8:08 remaining in the third and went on a game-changing drive that didn’t end until 10:38 in the fourth. The 94-yard drive featured several nice runs by junior Kobe Martin along with completions from Veltkamp to sophomore Christian Conyer and junior Arvin Bell. The Spartans had to settle for a field goal, but the drive was a body blow to the Purples’ defense.

“That’s the drive right there. That takes a lot of guts and mental toughness. You would like to score (a touchdown) there and cap it off, but I think that 3 points was a big 3 points,” Smith said.

“Play after play we just keep getting momentum, and the team feeds off that,” said Conyer, a Spartan wide receiver who played at Bowling Green last year.

South Warren got the ball back less than 2 minutes later, thanks to a big third down tackle by Burton. The Spartan’s drive featured a 32-yard pass from Veltkamp to Bell, a 27-yard run by Martin, who carried the ball 24 times for 78 yards, and a key first down run for Burton. Veltkamp capped off the drive with a 5-yard scoring run. He made a nice read on the option.

 

“We just ran the same play in a row four times,” Veltkamp said. “I was supposed to read the end (to see if) he stunted and came inside. He had done it the three plays before so I (knew that) if we run this again, I’m pulling it. We ran it again, he stunted inside, so I pulled it and we scored.”

“I think he was a little too amped up early, with his reads and decisions, but he is flat out a winner,” Smith said about Veltkamp, who finished 18-for-29 for 154 yards. “I think anybody can see that. He is bound and determined and down near the goal line we want the winners to have the ball and he came through for us.”

The teams will likely meet again in the second round of the 5A playoffs and another defensive matchup is to be expected.

“That’s two really good teams going at it right there, it’s a physical matchup, I really wouldn’t expect much different,” Smith said.

Conyer noted one thing that will be different.  “We are going to have a four-star, Jantzen Dunn back, so it is going to be a good game.”

 

 

 

Article written by Troy Howell

Follow me on twitter @ teeroyhowell