Divisions III, V and VII conclude the Ohio high school football finals at Ohio Stadium

After an epic day of football in which all three state finals came down to the wire, the Ohio playoffs reach a crescendo today with a trio of games that will conclude the Horseshoe's three-year run of hosting the event.

The state high school football finals conclude today with three games in Ohio Stadium before the event moves back to Stark County for the next two seasons. Here are capsule previews of each. 

DIVISION VII: WARREN JFK (13-1) vs. MINSTER (10-4)

JFK has had little trouble racing through the playoffs in its attempt to win the school’s second state title, beating three of its four foes by more than 30 points. That included a 48-7 semifinal blowout of Canal Winchester Harvest Prep as quarterback Gregory Valent ran for a 72-yard touchdown on the team’s opening drive and the Eagles never looked back from there.

Valent ended up running for three touchdowns and throwing for another while Evan Boyd ran for 108 yards. The Eagles have given up just 92 points on the season and ceded just 44 yards vs. Harvest Prep.

Minster, the 2014 state champion and a member of the powerful MAC, showed that regular-season test can pay off big come playoff time as the Wildcats downed conference foe and defending state champ Fort Recovery in the regional final and then bested McComb 27-23 in a semifinal.

The Wildcats, who have won eight straight games, got a major contribution from Jared Huelsman in the semifinal. The two-way star ran for two touchdowns, threw for another and had an interception return score. Minster blew a 21-0 lead before scoring the final touchdown in the win.

Warren John F. Kennedy Eagles

AP rank: 4

OHSAA seed: No. 3, Region 25

Fifth state final appearance, 1 title (1991)

21st year in playoffs (32-19)

Notes: Jeff Bayuk took over a team that went 2-8 in 2013 and has turned the program around to the point it is in the state championship game.

The Eagles return 21 of 22 starters from a year ago.

JFK has only given up 14+ points once this season and has six shutouts. JFK is only giving up an average of 5.75 points per game in the playoffs, and in the last two games, JFK has had four defensive touchdowns (three against St. Paul).

Evan Boyd has had more than 300 yards rushing in the Eagles’ last two games.

Playoff Road (first round to semis)

JFK 38, Toronto 0

JFK 16, Mogadore 3

JFK 48, Norwalk St. Paul 13

JFK 48, Canal Winchester 7

Head coach Jeff Bayuk to the Youngstown Vindicator: “This team is head and shoulders above any team we have faced to this point. Offensively, they will throw a lot of looks at us that we haven’t seen this year. They run a lot of routes and a lot of formations that until now we just haven’t had to prepare for. They are a huge threat at both running and passing the ball. Again, this is going to be a big test for our defense.”

Minster Wildcats

AP rank: N/A

OHSAA seed: No. 3, Region 28

Third state final appearance, two titles (most recently 2014)

15th year in playoffs (25-12)

Notes: Minster handed Division V state finalist Coldwater its only loss of the season in Week 7, by a 33-18 score. 

Quarterback Jared Huelsman, who replaced a 3,000-yard passer in Josh Nixon, became the first Wildcat signal caller to rush and pass for 1,000 yards in the same season. 

Running back Bryce Schmiesing, who moved to running back after two straight seasons of being a 1,000-yard receiver, is over 1,000 rushing yards this season. 

Offensive lineman Isaac Dorsten is a first-team All-Ohio pick. 

Minster is one of three Midwest Athletic Conference teams in the state finals and defeated fellow MAC team Fort Recovery, last year’s D-VII state champ, in the regional final.

Playoff Road (first round to semis)

Minster 33, Sidney Lehman 15

Minster 41, McGuffey Upper Scioto Valley 8

Minster 35, Fort Recovery 33

Minster 27, McComb 23

Huelsman on going to the state title game to the Lima News: “We’ve had that goal in mind since the beginning of the season. It was a little rough in the middle (of the season), but we battled back. I’m so happy.”

DIVISION III: AKRON HOBAN (13-1) vs. TROTWOOD-MADISON (12-2)

Saturday, December 3, 3 p.m.

Hoban looks to defend its 2015 title as it takes on the Rams, who staved off a potential rematch in this game by trouncing Toledo Central Catholic in a state semifinal.

Hoban features two star former Ohio State commits in quarterback Danny Clark and running back Todd Sibley, and the latter played a key part in a 23-14 come-from-behind win over Columbus DeSales in the semifinal. Sibley ran for 187 yards and two touchdowns on 37 carries in the victory as the team overcame a 14-3 deficit at halftime.

The Rams will look to add to their 2011 state crown after a 36-0 thrashing of top-ranked Toledo Central Catholic in the semifinal. Trotwood-Madison held Central Catholic’s Michael Warren, the Ohio Mr. Football who entered fifth all-time in the state with more than 7,600 rushing yards, to just 18 yards on 15 carries.

On the other side of the ball, Raveion Hargrave ran for 165 yards and two scores, upping his playoff total to 705 yards along with 11 touchdowns.

Akron Hoban Knights

AP rank: 3

OHSAA seed: No. 2, Region 9

Second state final appearance, 1 title (2015)

12th year in playoffs (23-10)

Notes: Hoban opened in 1953. The school’s first season in varsity football was in 1955. Last year was the Knights first appearance in a football state title game. 

Junior RJ Kelly and sophomore Nolan Rumler are two offensive linemen with several college scholarship offers in addition to Sibley (Pittsburgh) and Clark (Kentucky). 

The Hoban first-string defense has not allowed an opponent to score on it in the second half all season. The Knights defense is led by Jabari Taylor, Arison Sanders, Daeshon Martin, John Bozzelli, Nate Bauer and Will Collier. 

Hoban senior kicker Grant Kersh was born in Findlay, lived in Ottawa for a bit and then his father’s job moved the family over to England. The family lived there for four years while Grant was in grade school and he and his brother, Dane, played rugby. The family moved back to the United States and now live in Kent. Grant and his brother, Dane, started playing football when they returned to the States. Dane was a starting senior linebacker on last year’s Hoban state championship team. 

Hoban’s lone loss this season is to Lakewood St. Edward, the Division I state champion in 2014 and 2015. 

Playoff Road (first round to semis)

Hoban 37, Warren Howland 0

Hoban 21, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary 7

Hoban 34, New Philadelphia 3

Hoban 23, Columbus St. Francis de Sales 14 

Sibley to the Akron Beacon Journal: “Trotwood is always good. They go to the playoffs like every year and are always a contender. I watched them in the state championship versus St. Vincent-St. Mary (in 2013 when the Irish won their second state title in a row). ... They always have a good running football team. We definitely have to play our best going up against this team.” 

Trotwood-Madison Rams

AP rank: 10

OHSAA seed: No. 7, Region 12

Sixth state final appearance, 1 title (2011)

12th year in playoffs (23-10)

Notes: Jeff Graham is the second straight former NFL veteran to serve as Trotwood-Madison’s head football coach after Maurice Douglass guided the Rams from 2001-13. Douglass, also a Trotwood alum who played on the 1981 Class AA state runner-ups, was a defensive back with the Bears from 1986-94 and spent his final season with the Giants. Graham, a Kettering Alter grad, excelled as a wide receiver at Ohio State. He played 11 NFL seasons from 1991-2001 with the Steelers, Bears, Jets, Eagles and Chargers. 

Football, boys basketball and boys track and field have been the staples of Trotwood-Madison success this millennia. The football team has played in eight consecutive state semifinals, played in four straight state finals from 2010-13 and won the 2011 Division II state championship. The boys basketball team was the D-I state runner-up in 2006 and also made the final four in 2014. The boys track and field team has had numerous individual and relay D-I state champions, excelling in sprints and the 1,600-meter relay. 

In the state semifinal, Trotwood didn’t give up a first down to defending state runner-up Toledo Central Catholic until there was 2:10 left in the third quarter. 

Trotwood has the highest avg. points per playoff game of all finals teams (39.5). 

Trotwood is attempting to become the third No. 7 seed to win a state championship 

Playoff Road (first round to semis)

Trotwood-Madison 41, Wapakoneta 7

Trotwood-Madison 47, New Richmond 10

Trotwood-Madison 19, Lexington 0

Trotwood-Madison 36, Toledo Central Catholic 0 

Head coach Jeff Graham in the Akron Beacon Journal: “To look at (Sibley) on film and see the offensive line that he has in front of him, we have to be able to be in our gaps and we have to be able to get him on the ground. We run the I-formation offense, three receiver spread — we kind of do what they do well. They have some versions of power O and so do we. They kind of pull their guards and center. The focal point of that team is the quarterback. OK, you got [senior] Danny Clark and he is a viable quarterback that can throw the ball and he can also beat you with his legs. You have got to make sure you contain him.”

DIVISION V: COLDWATER (13-1) vs. CANTON CENTRAL CATHOLIC (10-3)

Saturday, December 3, 8 p.m.

There will be a rematch in Division V, with Canton Central Catholic taking a third straight stab at downing the Cavaliers’ dynasty. The Crusaders haven’t had much luck, though, with Coldwater having captured four state championships in a row and having played in eight consecutive finals. 

The Cavaliers – who have 69 all-time playoff wins, third in Ohio history – downed Coshocton 33-14 in the state semifinal. Dylan Thobe threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more as the Cavaliers outgained Coshocton 392-225.

Canton Central Catholic, with one state title in 2000 on its résumé, scored 24 straight points on the way to a 24-14 victory over Milan Edison in the other semifinal. The Crusaders were led by quarterback Jack Murphy, who threw a 79-yard touchdown pass to Jaret Cummins on the team’s first play from scrimmage on the way to compiling 230 total yards. 

Coldwater Cavaliers

AP rank: 2

OHSAA seed: No. 2, Region 20

12th state final appearance, 6 titles (last in 2015)

22nd year in playoffs (69-15)

Notes: Coldwater lost 19 starters from last year’s state title team. 

Coldwater not only easily earned its 20th straight playoff appearance but won a share of the Midwest Athletic Conference title with an 8-1 record (sharing the record with Division VI state champ Marion Local, which it beat 17-14). The Cavaliers will be the third MAC team to play on the weekend. 

The Cavaliers enter the game with a 24-game playoff winning streak, tying the mark set by Marion Local last season. 

Playoff Road (first round to semis)

Coldwater 47, Brookville 13

Coldwater 27, Jamestown Greeneview 24

Coldwater 30, Wheelersburg 20

Coldwater 33, Coshocton 14 

Coldwater head coach Chip Otten in the Akron Beacon Journal: “We graduated 22 seniors last year and have two returning starters. We didn’t really know what we were getting into this year. We had a lot of spots to fill and this senior group has done a great job of waiting their turn and waiting for their time. They have really stepped up along with six to eight juniors that are playing quite a bit.”

Canton Central Catholic Crusaders

AP rank: N/A

OHSAA seed: No. 3, Region 17

Fifth state final appearance, 2 titles (most recently 2000)

14th year in playoffs (28-11)

Notes: Canton Central Catholic is the first Stark County team to make three consecutive state championship games. That gives it five all-time title-game appearances, second only to Canton McKinley’s six in Stark County history. 

Head coach Jeff Lindesmith has now reached the state championship game in each of his first three years as a head coach. He was also an assistant on both of Central Catholic’s other title-game appearances, both of which resulted in titles. Lindesmith also has coached baseball at the school. 

Quarterback Jack Murphy was a wide receiver each of the past two seasons. 

Playoff Road (first round to semis)

Central Catholic 28, Akron Manchester 7

Central Catholic 30, Sullivan Black River 0

Central Catholic 40, Garrettsville Garfield 13

Central Catholic 24, Milan Edison 14

Head coach Jeff Lindesmith in the Akron Beacon Journal: “I have seen Coldwater a lot over the last couple of years and the first thing you always notice about Coldwater – and the things we have always tried to take from them – is their effort and execution. They don’t beat themselves. They play with great effort. Things I have always been impressed with are their second-level tackling. Their linebackers tackle with great speed and their secondary does not miss tackles and they don’t give up big plays. Offensively, they are always so sound. They run some counters and I noticed this year they added a few wrinkles in with the jet sweep. ... They are so sound, so well-coached and the kids expect to play well.”

Tickets

All-session ticket packages for the state championship games in Ohio Stadium are available from the Greater Columbus Sports Commission (www.ColumbusSports.org) and www.TicketMaster.com as well as http://go.osu.edu/OHSAAFBTix. A $105 all-session ticket package includes a ticket to all seven games in a chair-back seat and access to the Huntington Club in the stadium between games. An $84 all-session ticket is available without a chair back or access between games. Single game tickets are available at TicketMaster.com and are also available at the gate at Ohio Stadium.

TV

All seven games are being shown on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel as well as BCSN on Buckeye Cable.


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