OHSAA Finals: Saturday Preview

Three more games to be held today will wrap up the 2014 OHSAA state football finals in Ohio Stadium, including the big-school title game Saturday afternoon, and the games could follow in the excellent footsteps of the contests before it.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association state finals conclude today with three huge matchups after two days of excellent action. Here’s what fans can look forward to today in Ohio Stadium.

Division VII: Norwalk St. Paul (13-1) vs. Maria Stein Marion Local (14-0)
Saturday, December 6, 10 a.m.

How They Got Here
Norwalk St. Paul denied Glouster Trimble a second straight shot at a title, defeating the Tomcats 41-13.

Norwalk’s defense was the real MVP, garnering six interceptions, scoring two defensive touchdowns and returning another turnover to Trimble’s 2-yard line.

St. Paul was up only 7-0 with time winding down in the first half but forced a fumble and returned it for a score to double its lead before the half, and the rout was on from there.

Defending champion Maria Stein Marion Local will meet St. Paul in the championship. The top-ranked Flyers put a beat down on Columbus Grove in its semifinal, winning 55-7.

Marion Local was up 35-7 at the half and was able to begin resting players for its shot at a repeat championship. – Kane Anderson

Norwalk St. Paul Flyers
AP rank: 5
OHSAA seed: No. 1, Region 23
Fifth state final appearance, one title (2009)
16th year in playoffs (34-14)
Total school state championships: 3

Two of the four schools in Ohio that have the “Flyers” as their mascot are represented in this game. That doesn’t include the Clyde “Fliers.”

St. Paul’s Grant Dilger had three INTs in the Flyers 41-13 win over Trimble in D-VII. That gives him 15 INTs for the season.

St. Paul’s John Livengood is now 225-63, with five trips to a state championship game in the past 18 years and beat MAC member Delphos St. John’s in 2009 for the small schools state championship. It was the first time St. Paul had won a state championship game in four tries.

St. Paul boasts two first-team All-Ohio defenders in linebacker Jaret Nickoli and defensive back Dilger.

Recruits to watch: N/A

Playoff Road (first round to semis)
63-7, Vienna Mathews 2
41, Ashland Mapleton 6
18-14, Berlin Center Western Reserve
41-13, Glouster Trimble

Head coach Livengood: “It’s something that I think every team in Ohio when they start the season has the goal of playing in the state championship and for us that’s something that we’ve been able to experience as a program. It hasn’t been for five years, but it’s something that is a realistic goal for us year in and year out. It’s something that we look to accomplish and it means a lot to our kids. They work hard. It’s a great group of kids. I think when I look at the teams we’ve had a lot of success with over the years, I think that the one key component besides talent is chemistry. We have great chemistry.”

Maria Stein Marion Local Flyers AP rank: 1
OHSAA seed: No. 1, Region 26
Ninth state final appearance, seven titles (2013, 2012, 2011, 2007, 2006, 2001, 2000)
17th year in playoffs (57-9)
Total school state championships: 15

Marion Local has won 36 straight games and owns Ohio’s best all-time playoff winning percentage at .864 (57-9). In playoff action, this year’s senior class is 19-0.

Head coach Tim Goodwin is also the principal at ML and assistant coach Dan Koenig is the athletic director. Jacey Goettemoller is a three-time first team All-MAC RB and is this year’s MAC Player of the Year.

Marion Local has outscored its opponents 179-14 in this year’s playoffs. The 14 points given up to opponents is the least among the 2014 state finalists.

The Division VII defensive player of the year is Jacob Kunkler, a senior running back.

Recruits to watch: N/A

Playoff Road (first round to semis)
40-0, North Lewisburg Triad
35-0, Fort Recovery
49-7, Sidney Lehman
55-7, Columbus Grove

Head coach Goodwin: “We have an experienced team this year. We have a number of seniors that have started for three years, so we had high expectations. You never know how it’s going to work out but the season went really well. Our kids have done what we thought they could do. … Expectations can be good or bad. The expectations that our kids have is that they’re going to work hard during the preseason, prepare hard during the season and game night they’re going to do their best. We’re fortunate, we’re in a community that we’re a blue-collar community, pretty humble people. I don’t have parents that are telling their kids that they are way better than what they are, that they’re a star.”

Division I: Lakewood St. Edward (12-2) vs. Huber Heights Wayne (13-1)
Saturday, December 5, 3 p.m.

How They Got Here
Huber Heights Wayne shook the big-school hierarchy by taking out two-time defending state champion Cincinnati Moeller, 29-22, in the semifinal last weekend.

Wayne’s offense made just enough big plays and its defense bent but rarely broke as a late touchdown pass made the Warriors Region 2 champions and propelled them to the title game.

The Crusaders found themselves up 22-14 after scoring their only touchdown of the game with 3:21 left in the third quarter but couldn’t stop Wayne after that.

The Warriors scored a touchdown one minute later and converted a two-point try to tie the game. Wayne quarterback D’Mitrik Trice threw a touchdown pass with 1:27 left to give the Warriors the lead and their defense picked off a pass to seal the win.

Seven Moeller drives ended in field-goal attempts, with five of those attempts being converted.

The Warriors earned their second regional crown in the last five years and will be rewarded with a rematch of the 2010 state title game against perennial power Lakewood St. Edward.

The Eagles, who were once ranked as high as No. 1 among the nation’s high schools by Scout.com, dismantled top-ranked Hudson 42-14 in the Region 1 final. St. Ed’s scored 28 points in the second quarter to enter halftime up 35-0 and all but assure victory over the Explorers. Cole Gest ran for three touchdowns in the win.

Hudson came into the game ranked No. 1 in the state, but the first half saw St. Ed’s rack up 15 first downs to Hudson’s four. The Explorers had only 166 yards of offense through three quarters and didn’t score until the fourth quarter. – Kane Anderson

Lakewood St. Edward Eagles
AP rank: 6
OHSAA seed: No. 2, Region 1
Fifth state final appearance, one title (2010)
20th year in playoffs (30-128)
Total school state championships: 47

These teams met in the 2010 state title game. Braxton Miller led Wayne to a 28-27 lead with 2:34 to go, but St. Edward responded with a late TD to win the program’s only state title.

Lakewood St. Edward scored 28 points in the second quarter of its 42-14 state semifinal victory over Hudson. Over an eight quarter span between trailing Powell Olentangy Liberty 12-7 in the third quarter of its regional quarterfinal game to the fourth quarter against Hudson in the state semifinal, St. Edward scored 117 unanswered points.

St. Edward is attempting to become the third school in OHSAA history to win the boys basketball and football state championships in the same calendar year.

First-team All-Ohio choices include three members of the defense including linebacker Troy Dipre (Kent State commit) and defensive backs Shaun Crawford (Notre Dame commit) and Andrew Dowell (Kentucky commit)

Recruits to watch: Alex Stump (injured), Crawford, Andrew Dowell, David Dowell, Dipre, Troy Henderson, Brett Kean, Cole Gest, Tony Butler, Cal Reynolds

Playoff Road (first round to semis)
37-3, Brunswick
45-12, Powell Olentangy Liberty
41-0, Westerville Central
42-14, Hudson

Head coach Rick Finotti: “We’re real proud of our players, our coaches for being able to persevere. A couple of tough losses in the beginning of the season, we really battled and working to get better vs. a very tough schedule and some great opponents in the postseason. We’re on the round 15 in a heavyweight fight, the Division I championship. This is some of the best football we’ve been playing. Like I kept telling the guys, we have yet to put a four-quarter game together where all three phases are clicking. The kickoff return Shawn had in the St. Ignatius game when we were down 10-0, that ignited our team and ever since then we’ve starting playing with more confidence. The last few weeks, we’ve outexecuted everyone.”

Huber Heights Wayne Warriors
AP rank: 7
OHSAA seed: No. 5, Region 2
Third state final appearance, zero titles
17th year in playoffs (18-16)
Total school state championships: 2

Huber Heights Wayne quarterback D’Mitrik Trice threw for 293 yards passing in its 29-22 state semifinal victory over Cincinnati Moeller. The game-winning touchdown pass to Ahmad Wagner was Trice’s 39th touchdown pass of the season. Wagner will play collegiate basketball at Iowa

Trice is the Division I co-offensive player of the year and is joined as an All-Ohio choice by Wagner and defensive back Tyree Kinnel, a Michigan commit.

Recruits to watch: Kinnel, Robert Landers, Trice, Tobias Gilliam, Isaiah Trice, Matt Wilcox, L’Christian Smith

Playoff Road (first round to semis)
42-13, Cincinnati Elder
44-35, Dublin Coffman
38-3, West Chester Lakota West
29-22, Cincinnati Moeller

Head coach Jay Minton: “We’re a team that has really come together well. We have an outstanding group of talented young men who have really developed well with their character as well as their talents. We’ve had a great season. We lost in a rivalry game to Centerville in week 10, but that was probably the best thing that happened to us. A lot of people say you don’t learn anything from a loss, but I think in this case it helped us. It gave us a swift kick in the butt to get going and we focused on what our plan was, and that was to get into this game. We have a great group of senior leaders.”

Division V: Coldwater (13-1) vs. Canton Central Catholic (14-0)
Saturday, December 6, 8 p.m.

How They Got Here
The top two teams in the final statewide AP poll will battle for this crown as No. 1 Canton Central Catholic will take on Coldwater.

Coldwater is in a familiar place as the two-time defending state champions are back in the title game after crushing Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, 34-3.

The end of the first quarter saw the Eagles down just 7-3, but the Cavaliers opened it up in the second quarter as Coldwater took a 21-3 lead at halftime.

The Eagles could not get the offense going at all, though, throwing a couple of interceptions in the second half and not being able to put up any points.

Brody Hoying led the way for the Cavaliers, playing both quarterback and in the defensive backfield. He played a role in four touchdowns and had an interception.

Trying to stop Coldwater’s three-peat will be Canton Central Catholic, winners against Columbus Bishop Hartley, 34-24.

The Crusaders took the opening possession of the third quarter 84 yards for a score and picked off a Hartley pass with 7:12 left in the game, leading to the next touchdown for the Crusaders. They used the momentum from the turnover and scored on a 59-yard pass to take a 27-10 lead.

The Hawks scored quickly on their next two possessions to make it 27-24, but a 45-yard touchdown run on CCC’s next possession sealed the deal. – Kane Anderson

Coldwater Cavaliers
AP rank: 13-1
OHSAA seed: No. 4, Region 16
10th state final appearance, four titles (2013, 2012, 2007, 2005)
20th year in playoffs (59-15)
Total school state championships: 19

Coldwater’s six straight regional titles is the longest active streak in Ohio. The state record for consecutive regional titles is nine set by Newark Catholic (1980-88) and Cleveland St. Ignatius (1991-99).

Coldwater quarterback Brady Hoying accounted for 297 yards of total offense (156 passing, 141 rushing) and four total touchdowns (two passing, two rushing) in the state semifinal. In last year’s state final game against Hartley, Hoying rushed for 145 yards and three touchdowns and threw for 83 yards.

The Cavaliers have both the Division V Ohio co-offensive player of the year (Hoying) and co-defensive player of the year (Mitch Fullenkamp).

Recruits to watch: N/A

Playoff Road (first round to semis)
50-9, Doylestown Chippewa
40-14, Huron
28-7, Findlay Liberty-Benton
34-3, Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy

Head coach Chip Otten: “It feels good to be back. Every year it’s a different group of kids and group of seniors who want to carry on and get to that state championship, and I think for the kids going to the Horseshoe, it’s really exciting because of the history of the stadium and getting to play in Columbus. That’s really cool.”

Canton Central Catholic Crusaders
AP rank: 1
OHSAA seed: No. 1, Region 15
Third state final appearance, two titles (2000, 1988
12th year in playoffs (20-9)
Total school state championships: 6

Canton Central Catholic converted all six fourth-down conversion attempts in its 34-24 state semifinal win over Columbus Bishop Hartley.

After sustaining an injury playing defense in the second quarter, Canton Central Catholic quarterback/safety Jake Boccuti returned to the field after halftime and threw two touchdown passes in the third quarter in Central Catholic’s 34-24 state semifinal victory over Hartley.

CCC pulled in five first-team All-Ohio honors as well as boasting co-offensive player of the year Jake Boccuti at quarterback as well as co-coach of the year Jeff Lindesmith. Other first-teamers include end Travis Morgan, kicker Nick Boron, defensive lineman Simon Smith and defensive back John Colangelo.

Recruits to watch: N/A

Playoff Road (first round to semis)
41-0, Beachwood
28-14, Jamestown Greeneview
20-6, Youngstown Ursuline
34-24, Columbus Bishop Hartley

Head coach Lindesmith: “We try to spread it around. You look at our numbers and there’s a lot of people who carry the ball. Justin Ditty did a lot of the hard inside stuff for us. We’re a one-back offensive teams. He can run some zone, he can run some power for us. He’s a kid that as a junior we weren’t sure who was going to play back, and he’s gotten a lot better.”

Single game tickets are available at the participating schools, at www.TicketMaster.com, and are also available at Gate 5 of Ohio Stadium.

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