The Panthers head coach knows what it's like to win state titles having won back-to-back titles in 2002 and 2003. But as other teams from the region have advance and won titles the Panthers have struggled getting out what many consider Ohio's toughest region.
But names from the past sprinkle the Panthers roster as names like Anevski and Bujnoch now line up along the Panthers offensive line much like their older brothers had done in those championship seasons.
"We have good kids who play offensive line and who understand it. We have skill guys but when you've got kids like Austen and John they've lived it with their older brothers and they get it and it's good to have those type of kids around."
As Region Four has seen Colerain and St. Xavier go on to win titles the past few years the Panthers have watched and worked hard to reclaim their place with the teams the region has become famous for.
"I'm happy for all of our kids and we feel we're back to were we believe we should be as one of the top teams. These kids were in junior high when we were winning state titles and I'm happy for them in getting us back to the Final Four. We've been a decent team but not great and now these kids get their chance to experience this for themselves."
The game was one that will go along side the many games that have been played in the region over the years. Rain and wind had been the norm for the day and by kickoff the rain had left and over 10,000 fans took their place cheering for the team.
With the east sideline filled in Elder Purple and the west in Colerain Red sides had been taken. It would take four quarters and two overtimes before Elder would win the game on a fumble 27-20.
For the Panthers their attack came by air as junior quarterback Mark Miller would go 17-26-2 for 186 yards and 3 touchdowns. His main target was Tim O'Conner as Colerain had done a great job of keeping Cincinnati verbal commitment Josh Jones in line with one catch for eleven yards. But Jones was there when it mattered most and made the Panthers final offensive play count the most.
In the first overtime the Panthers thought they'd won the game as Colerain junior running back Dom Carter fumbled away the hand off and only a field goal was needed for the win. But Colerain was ready and blocked the field goal attempt placing the game into a second overtime.
It was here were Jones made the play of the night and what would be the difference in this super competitive game. On first down Miller looked for his star receiver and found him in the corner between the one and the goal line ready to pull in what would be the game winner. Jones made the catch and the Panthers looked to hold.
Just as they'd done in the first overtime, Carter and quarterback Greg Tabar struggled with the hand off and Elder's Nick Daffin would recover advancing the Panthers to a Saturday showdown with Pickerington Central with a trip to the state championship game on the line.
Elder Advances As Region Four Champions
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