Loudonville”s Jordan Wright goes down after gaining some tough yardage against Shelby in Friday night action at Shelby. Walt Butler/News Journal
SHELBY — To paraphrase LeBron James, the Loudonville Redbirds are coming home.
The Birds wrapped up a four-game road trip and 10-0 regular season in easy fashion under lousy conditions, beating Shelby 47-0 at rainy W.W.Skiles Field on Friday night.
The win clinched a Division IV home playoff game next week for Loudonville, which kept its perfect season intact despite spending the past month on the road. It’s the third straight trip to the post-season for the Birds under third-year coach Justin Todd.
In a game that often resembled mud wrestling, Loudonville overcame sloppy execution on the sloppy turf thanks in large part to four touchdown runs by All-Ohio senior quarterback Kolton Edmondson.
It was a frustrating night for the Whippets (2-8). Two weeks after putting up 82 points in that epic battle with Tiffin Columbian, they couldn’t generate anything offensively in a steady rain. Edmondson broke free for two of his touchdowns when Shelby appeared to have Loudonville stopped, adding to the Dawgs’ frustration.
Edmondson’s first touchdown came on a 25-yard run at 9:45 of the first quarter. It was his next two that were really deflating.
On a fourth-and-1 keeper, Edmondson went 33 yards to make it 13-0 at 6:37 of the second quarter. His third touchdown, seconds before halftime, came one play after a holding call pushed the ball back to the Loudonville 37.
The clock and field position were working against the Birds, but one play after the seemingly costly penalty, Edmondson broke through the line and somehow kept his footing on the off-track to out-run two Whippet defenders for a 63-yard touchdown.
Despite the three-touchdown lead it was hardly a flawless first half for the Redbirds and probably not the final tuneup Todd was looking for heading into the playoffs.
Two holding penalties killed Loudonville’s second offensive series and another holding call nullified a 68-yard touchdown run by Austin Van Sickle on its third possession.
A second quarter fumble by Josh Weber at his own 30 gave Shelby its best field position of the half and the Whippets looked like they would capitalize when they gained a first down at the 18. But Loudonville linebacker Mike Henderson almost single-handedly wrecked those plans.
Henderson sacked freshman quarterback Brennan Armstrong for a five-yard loss and, on second-and-15, sniffed out the screen pass, nailing the receiver as the ball arrived for a one-yard loss.
On third down from the Loudonville 24, Cody Stine made an acrobatic catch against double coverage at the back of the end zone but was ruled out of bounds. Henderson, fittingly, then ended Shelby’s scoring threat by teaming with Tristan Bender to smack down Armstrong for a six-yard loss on fourth down.
Loudonville running back Jordan Wright scored twice on the opening series of the second half. The Birds started at midfield after recovering an onside kick, but Wright’s 12-yard TD run was negated by yet another holding penalty.
Undeterred, the Birds kept calling Wright’s number, and he finally got in from seven yards out to make it 27-0.
The last 18-plus minutes were played with a running clock after Edmondson scored his fourth touchdown on a 46-yard breakaway, upping the lead to 34-0. Josh Weber then atoned for his first half fumble, scoring on a 15-yard run to make it 41-0, still in the third period. The Loudonville backups took over from there.