SHERWOOD -- There was only one item that Hicksville had complete control of Friday night at the Reservation in Sherwood ... and that was an outright GMC title.
By virtue of a 46-6 victory over the Apaches, the Aces finished the job that started back in Week 4 when they knocked off the former champion Tinora Rams on the way to garnering the program's first outright title since 1976.
"Last week I said, I'm not a selfish person by nature, but this week was definitely a selfish time for us," said Hicksville head coach Lucas Smith. "It's something that we haven't done in 35 years at Hicksville and we got it accomplished tonight. I'm awfully proud of the way our kids came ready to play."
The Aces (8-2, 7-0 GMC) capitalized on great field position and a couple Fairview (4-6, 4-3 GMC) mistakes in the first half, to dominate the scoreboard despite an almost even battle in total yards where Hicksville held a slim 302-292 edge.
A trio of backs shouldered the offensive workload for the Aces, with Justin Miller and Seth Klepper each running for 94 yards while Kaleb Johns ran for 83. The trio also combined for five of the team's six scores.
"It's amazing, we've been working for it for four years," Miller said of being the GMC champs. "Coming into the season we knew that we had a chance, in week four we took care of (business) and then here. I think all the doubters out there made us want it more and it's just an amazing feeling."
Defensively, the Aces kept Fairview from hitting the big play, with only two 20-plus gains in the entire game, both of which came late in the fourth quarter. Special teams frequently put Fairview in poor field position and even added an onside kick recovery.
"A few years ago we were pretty one-dimensional with who we were giving the ball to with (Logan). Battershell," said Smith. "This year, we've got three or four different guys that we can count on to move the ball. Defense plays well, special teams was big again for us, good field position and a turnover there."
Starting with the ball on their own 47, Hicksville opened the scoring on the second play from scrimmage when Miller called his own number and ran 44 yards to paydirt. Johns ran for a successful two-point conversion as the Aces were up 8-0 a mere 48 seconds into the game.
"It was all the front line, they took care of it tonight," said Miller. "A wet, sloppy field and they got people moving, they got people out of the way. They did their job, we did ours."
Fairview's offense was stopped on a fake punt attempt on a fourth-and-12, but the defense settled down and forced Hicksville to punt, which Miller did, sending a 39-yarder to force the Apaches to start at their own five.
A steady balance of runs and passes helped the Apaches march down to the Hicksville three-yard line in 16 plays, but the 17th proved costly for the Apaches and was the beginning of a bad stretch for the Black-and-Gold.
On fourth-and-goal, junior quarterback Andy Guilford threw what appeared to be a touchdown pass to Tyler Nusbaum, but an offensive pass interference call negated the touchdown and possession went to the Aces.
"They came out and shocked us early," remarked Fairview mentor David Robinson. "I talked to my kids and thought we did a good job of making a slight adjustment to keep us in it ... and then that call on the touchdown, where they took our touchdown away from us, it broke our kids. That's kind of the way it's been for us all season."
The Aces were forced to punt six plays later, but the offense was back on the field quickly when Zac Stoll recovered a fumble on a run by Guilford.
After Fairview's Scott Freudenberger tackled Miller for a 5-yard loss, Johns got the carry and a block by Klepper and another by Conner Yoder that allowed the sophomore running back to score on a 29-yard run with 10:12 left in the second quarter.
Fairview's next possession started at their own 26, but as Guilford was forced to scramble by an onslaught of Aces defenders, the Apache quarterback ran all the way back into the end zone where Austin Michael tripped him up for a safety and a 17-0 lead.
"All of the sudden I just saw him running back and I knew I had to get to him. He went pretty far back, but I didn't know he was in the end zone," said Michael. "It was key that we had him on the run (throughout the game) because that makes it easier for everyone else to do their jobs."
Shane Bostic returned the free kick 27 yards to the Apache 20, and on the fifth run of the drive, Klepper scored on a 3-yard run as the Aces scored 16 points in a span of 2:07.
Miller connected with Dean Conley on an 18 yard pass late in the half as the Aces cruised into halftime with a 32-0 lead.
"We were fortunate there, a couple big penalties were called on them that were to our advantage," said Smith. "The safety was a big momentum swing for us and I think we were able to play on their half of the field most of the first half and we definitely capitalized. I'm awfully proud of this community, all these coaches and these kids."
Neither team scored in the third quarter and the Apaches finally got on the board late in the fourth on an Isaac Valle 6-yard run but not until Klepper scored his second and third touchdowns of the game earlier in the quarter.
First Downs 13 18
Rushing Yards 42-276 32-122
Passing Yards 26 170
Total Yards 302 292
Passing 2-7-1 18-36-0
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 2-1
Penalties 7-60 4-20
Hicksville 8 24 0 14 - 46
Napoleon 0 0 0 6 - 6
H - Miller 44-run (Johns run).
H - Johns 29-run (Klepper kick).
H - Safety
H - Klepper 3-run (Klepper kick).
H - Conley 17-pass from Miller (Miller run).
H - Klepper 15-run (Klepper kick).
H - Klepper 13-run (Klepper kick).
F - Valle 5-run (kick failed).
RUSHING: Hicksville - Miller 13-94; Klepper 16-94; Johns 10-83. Fairview - Valle 7-64; Guilford 19-32; Arend 2-14; Timbrook 3-9; Vance 1-3. PASSING: Hicksville - Miller 2-7-0-26. Fairview - Guilford 18-36-0-171. RECEIVING: Hicksville - Conley 1-17; Bostic 1-8. Fairview - Freudenberger 6-58; Nusbaum 4-51; Tobin 3-28; Bostater 2-12; Timbrook 1-11; Crites 1-8; Valle 1-2.