Barnesville scores first victory, 28-6

BARNESVILLE – Barnesville got the monkey off its back Friday night.

”Actually, it was more like a gorilla,” Shamrocks head coach Matt Johnson said.

Indeed it was.

But after four straight losses to the season, and nine straight going back to last year, Barnesville can call itself winners.

Behind 252 yards rushing and two touchdowns from Dylan Burkhart, the Shamrocks dominated Shenandoah 28-6 before a raucous Pumpkin Festival crowd at Shamrock Field.

”I’m happy for the kids,” Johnson said. ”They’ve worked hard.

“Actually, I thought we should’ve come out of (Buckeye Trail) last week with a win, but …”

Johnson was especially happy for senior student manager Grayson Willis. Willis received the gameball and was part of the evening’s recognition of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. All of the Barnesville coaches wore T-shirts to promote the event.

”Our kids think they have it bad if they have a bad day at school or something,” Johnson said. ”This kid has been such an inspiration to all of us. I’m proud that we could do that for him and be a part of this event.”

Barnesville (1-4) led most of the way last Friday, but turnovers and an inability to put together any sustainable offensive drives were the culprit in a 22-21 loss.

Problem solved.

Yes, there was an early Burkhart fumble, but the Shamrocks didn’t repeat last week’s fumblefest and, much to Johnson’s delight, was able to put together some solid offensive production. Overall, Barnesville racked up more than 300 yards.

”We just told them we’d be able to run the ball downhill and the big plays will come off that,” Johnson said. ”Dylan just ran the ball hard.”

Johnson, the sensational sophomore, had plenty of those big plays. He had five runs of 22 yards or more, including jaunts of 50 and 37.

”Burkhart is a great runner,” Zeps head coach Kaleb Lawrence said. ”He really wore us down.”

After spotting Shenandoah (0-5) a 6-0 lead midway through the second quarter on a 71-yard run by Ryan Lovette, Burkhart went to work.

He carried the ball on all four plays of a 44-yard drive that ended with a 15-yard scamper with 1:11 left in the half. The first of four David Brown PAT’s made the score 7-6.

Barnesville first drive of the second half was much longer, but the result was the same.

Burkhart ran the ball seven times for 28 yards and that, coupled with a 24-yard strike from Austin Hannahs to Tyler Carleton, put the Shamrocks at the Zeps’ 6. From there,

Hannahs scored himself, running over Shenandoah’s Andy Hronec along the way, to make the score 14-6.

Carleton scored from two yards out on the first play of the fourth quarter to up the lead to 21-6. Then, with 1:29 left, Burkhart provided a little insurance with a 7-yard run to cap the scoring.

Johnson had nothing but praise for his offensive line and Carleton, his fullback.

”Our older guys, I can’t say enough about their leadership and how they’ve helped our younger guys because we have some sophomores and freshmen in there,” he said. ”Instead of pouting about the losses, those guys have been teaching out there in practice and that’s good leadership.

”And our defense, they just played outstanding. They’re getting better and better and that’s promising for us.”

Barnesville hits the road at Caldwell next Friday before returning home for three straight, starting with Steubenville Catholic in two weeks.

”As far as psyche, this has to boost us a little bit,” Johnson said. ”But this team is pretty level-headed. If you walk into a practice you wouldn’t be able to tell if we were 0-4 or 4-0.

”But we have to keep working hard to get better.”

Thorp can be reached at