Rex Shupe coached running backs at Amanda-Clearcreek High School and
fittingly, Friday night, his star pupil led the charge in a rout of
rival Circleville Logan Elm. Shupe however wasn’t there to witness it.
He passed away in June.
Rex Shupe coached running backs at Amanda-Clearcreek High School and fittingly, Friday night, his star pupil led the charge in a rout of rival Circleville Logan Elm. Shupe however wasn’t there to witness it. He passed away in June.
“I felt him inside me tonight when I ran,” A-C senior running back Garren Dilley said. “That first run I scored on I just felt his presence. He taught me everything I know. He’s been my coach since I was a freshman. He taught me everything.”
Dilley displayed his entire arsenal against the Braves. The senior standout rumbled for 179 yards and a memorable touchdown on 24 carries as the Aces improved to 4-0 and soundly signaled their resurgence with a thorough 37-6 domination of Logan Elm, which had won 13 straight regular season games dating back to the opener last year.
Imagine if Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty got into a fistfight. That’s basically what happened at “The Pit” in Amanda on Friday. In a meeting of undefeateds and state ranked teams, upstart and darling Logan Elm got its make-up smeared by A-C, a traditional power whose suffered from a recent slumber. The Aces were 3-7 last year.
So far this year, A-C owns impressive wins over Newark Catholic, Liberty-Union and now, LE.
Before a standing room only crowd and on homecoming, A-C rode its horse – Dilley – to the statement win on what was dedicated “Rex Shupe Night.”
Shupe would have been proud of his team’s performance.
Last season’s run is another story.
It’s no secret A-C head coach Ron Hinton, now in his 29th season, has modeled his program after those at St. Henry and Versailles. And he’s achieved that status. The Aces own two state titles and have been state runner-up three times. A-C has eight regional titles.
But in 2007, the Aces went 6-4. Then came last year’s three-win campaign.
The offseason was miserable.
“It was long,” Hinton said. “It was like forever. It was just unsettling the things that happened to us.”
Including the loss of Shupe.
Diagnosed with cancer in December, Shupe passed away on June 11.
“It was one of those things where it was bang-bang-bang,” Hinton said. “He just went fast.”
Shupe’s career wasn’t so hasty.
A 1970 graduate of A-C, Shupe began his teaching and coaching career at Berne Union High School before going to Logan Elm and eventually A-C. He joined the Aces staff in 1993.
Shupe taught for 35 years between Berne Union, Logan Elm and A-C. Both LE and A-C were presented plaques Friday in honor of Shupe’s service.
“Coach Shupe grew up with us, went to high school with us and played football with us,” Hinton said. “I have four brothers and we all consider Rex the sixth member of our family. He was the sixth brother. We’ve always been close.”
A lot of things in life aren’t fair, and Shupe’s death is one of them.
When he passed, Shupe left this world just shy of several milestones.
The week he passed, Shupe was scheduled to retire and celebrate Father’s Day. His grandchild was also born shortly after his death.
Hinton describe the mentor as “a great person” who was “great with kids.”
“He’s up there giving us some help,” Hinton said. “Rex is looking down on us smiling. And he’s also giving us heck. He’s probably saying “what are you fools doing down there.’”
Right now the Aces are playing Amanda-Clearcreek football. And Dilley is the poster child.
A 5-11, 238 pound wrecking ball, Dilley’s drive is surpassed only by his ability to gobble up yardage.
Back for a third-year as the starter after back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, Dilley isn’t your typical running back. He’s a nose guard with feet like a punt returner. Seriously.
He also has a history with Shupe that fuels his engine.
“His wife and my aunt are best friends,” Dilley said. “He would always come to family functions and we really didn’t get along at first. He was bull-headed and I was stubborn and we clashed. Last year, though, he and I become so close. During the ceremony I couldn’t stop crying.”
So, how long did the offseason onslaught linger?
“In the weightroom they had our record everywhere,” Dilley said. “There was 3-7 plastered everywhere. It reminded us everyday of the things we did wrong and how bad we played. I wrestled and I was able to take my aggression out on the mat (Dilley placed fourth at the D-III state). And everyone was doing something. But football was what we were waiting on. It was all prep for football.”
And Shupe clearly prepped Dilley and A-C for success.
In addition to Dilley’s effort, A-C received solid performances Friday from several other players, including junior QB Jarrad Bennett, senor RB Tyler Gierhart, junior WR Max Corcoran and sophomore RB Marshall Miller.
It appears that after a hiccup Aces football is here to stay – much like Shupe’s legacy.
“Our attitude now is to go the extra step,” Dilley said. “Everybody wants to win. We’re tired of losing and we’ve missed the playoffs two years in a row. That’s not Amanda-Clearcreek football. What we’re playing now is.”
Shupe just smiled.