AMBOY – Celebrations and high-fives were aplenty Saturday in Amboy as the Amboy-LaMoille-Ohio football team won its 8-man first-round playoff game, 48-0, against Blue Ridge.
The No. 5-seeded Clippers (8-2) led 28-0 after the first, 42-0 at halftime and scored once more against the No. 12-seeded Knights in the fourth quarter on a Josh McKendry run.
The celebrations were about each touchdown, advancing to the second round of the playoffs, and the return of senior quarterback Tucker Lindenmeyer.
“We started off a little slow. We had some big plays here and there,” said Lindenmeyer, who has been out since a Week 4 leg injury against Milford/Cissna Park. “Overall, we didn’t do very well in the first quarter. We picked it up in the second quarter and got back to doing what we needed to do.
“I think I started slow. I slowly started to get back in the groove and find the rhythm that I need. Hopefully, it continues for the second playoff game. It was a lot different atmosphere being involved in the game and being a part of the win. It’s nice being back.”
Lindenmeyer will have a chance to settle the score of the 40-30 loss to Milford, the first Clippers’ loss of the season, in the second round of the playoffs as A-L-O takes on the Bearcats at 2 p.m. Saturday at Sam Fanning Stadium in Milford.
“Moving on in the playoffs, we need to stick together as a team. We need a strong mindset overall,” Lindenmeyer said. “We need to learn each other better, flow better, and everything just needs to really come together and stay tight like a puzzle. If we can do that, we’ll have success.”
Clippers coach Scott Payne was more than happy to have his lone senior back on the field.
The offense picked up 408 total yards with Lindenmeyer throwing 8-of-12 for 144 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Junior Landon Whelchel ran for 110 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, while also returning a kickoff 80-yards to the endzone.
Sophomore Quinn Leffelman had four carries for 89 yards and a 53-yard touchdown.
“Tucker looked good in his first game back throwing the football. We still made a few mental mistakes. We need to get those cleaned up before the next round. All year long, we were one of the least penalized teams. All of a sudden (Saturday), we seemed like we were holding every other play. We’ll work on that and get it cleaned up before next week.
“Our offensive and defensive line did a great job (Saturday). They controlled the line of scrimmage. We shut down their big fullback, Jamison Berkler, and I think we did a really good job of stopping their inside trap game.”
Amboy had seven penalties for 100 yards while Blue Ridge had three whistles against them for 30 yards.
The Clippers recovered two Knights fumbles and only gave up one interception.
Junior tight end Brennan Blaine took credit for 114 of Lindenmeyer’s yards as he had four grabs and two touchdowns.
“It was nice to have Tucker back for this game. We wanted him to play with us in the playoffs,” Blaine said. “Eddie Jones (sophomore backup quarterback who started during Lindenmeyer’s injury) did good, held it down, and did the best he could, but Tucker is a senior and he’s had more experience in the playoffs.
“When we were in our Trips formation, Blue Ridge did a good job of double teaming me. I don’t think I caught one pass out of that formation. I was guarded every time I caught the ball, Tucker just hit me with some nice throws.”
Blaine realizes teams have watched film and know what him and Lindenmeyer are capable of doing on the field.
He also knows it doesn’t change the game plan.
“We’re going to have to play through it. We know it’s going to be tough the rest of the way through,” Blaine said. “We have Milford next week. They’re a great team and we already lost to them once. We hope to see a different outcome this time.
“Whelchel was running well against Blue Ridge. Our line picked up the blocks. Quinn caught a couple of passes. It’s nice moving the ball and getting it to other guys. It really helps our offense open up we’ll keep it going in the playoffs.”
If you ask Payne what the difference of a regular season Week 4 loss and a second-round playoff victory against Milford will be, he doesn’t hesitate.
“What’s going to be different is we have Tucker Lindenmeyer dressing,” Payne said. “That’s going to help us out tremendously.”