Kaden Kearney leads Augusta Orioles against Elyria Christian in men’s football

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Kaden Kearney didn’t need much time as he scored three goals in under eight minutes as Augusta, ninth in the table, knocked out Elyria Christian 7-0 on Tuesday night at Hillier Stadium.

The win pushes Augusta to seven straight wins since their stunning first-season loss to Wichita Classical in overtime. It’s a different team since that loss.

You’re set to change as the season progresses when you replace 13 seniors and everyone is telling you it’s a rebuilding of you. What did Augusta do with the “season of rebuilding? “I just had the best start in school history.

“We only have a handful of seniors in key positions,” Augusta head coach Dusty Buell said. “I don’t think you’ll have another better person than Connor Inlow in our league.

“So you have Payton [Ball] and Kearney and Ball and Kearney, either of these guys can set you on fire any night. “

This is what happened against Elyria Christian. Ball, who scored 40 goals last year in 15 matches, was the man who shared the ball. He had five assists in the win, all to Kearney. The pressure is off his back.

Last season, Ball got just eight assists despite being considered Augusta’s top scorer. They were 0-3 in games where he didn’t score. This season, they don’t need him to be the attacking runner-up. It attracts defenders and frees up space in the middle.

You saw it on the second goal of the night when Ball sent a pass down the middle to an unmarked Kearney, who was able to convert the easy goal.

“It really makes it easy for me to pass the ball,” Ball said. “I just have to place it correctly and they’ll go get it.”

He’s done it numerous times, twice in the corners and others on crosses in the box. Not something you saw in their only loss. It’s about choosing your poison now.

Augusta's Kaden Kearney celebrates one of his five goals in the win over Elyria Christian on Monday night.

“We have a great relationship,” Kearney said. “We tried to play the first game like it was last season and it’s a different team. We have a lot of options.

Kearney, had his fair share of goals last season. In eight games, he’s already surpassed that, with 19 on the season; including five Monday night against Elyria Christian.

“It just makes my job easier,” Ball said of Kearney in the middle. “It makes the game a little more fun and I can just do whatever I want on the side and cross the ball.”

Augusta capitalized on the set pieces and limited any actual possession on Elyria Christian overnight. They kept them to zero hits and only a handful of touches in the box.

“Our defense has really come together,” Kearney said. “They work well together and we’re pretty deadly all together.”

It wasn’t the final score that was impressive, it was how they dominated a team that had only been defeated once. Elyria Christian goalkeeper Ben Unruh did his best but at times he was up against unmarked players who easily found the back of the net.

What’s even better is that the defender has collected two clean sheets in his last two games, including a 3-0 win last week over number 3-ranked McPherson. They continued to dominate the defense by holding Elyria. Christian without a single shot Monday night.

“We weren’t sure what to expect when we faced McPherson,” Ball said. “We went out and won and the way we did it was really good. I pulled the penalties and Connor [Inlow] finished them.

The win keeps the Orioles near the top of the 4A-1A class standings as there is one month left in the regular season.

Augusta will be back in the saddle next Monday as they travel to the BG Products Veterans Sports Complex to take on county rival El Dorado. They always try to get to the top of what this team can accomplish and that always focuses on each team.

“I don’t think we’ve reached our peak,” Buell said. “I don’t know if we will do it this year, but if we do it will be dangerous. “

Charles Chaney has been Sports Editor for the Butler County Times-Gazette since August 2019. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @ChuckChaneyBCTG.

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