Maria Stein Marion Local vs. Kirtland
FINAL Marion Local: 7 Kirtland: 16
In this rematch of the 2015 and 2017 title games, Kirtland controlled the clock holding the ball for over 35-minutes and keeping the Marion Local offense off the field to come away with a hard fought 16-7 win and the OHSAA Division VI title.
After a scoreless opening quarter, Kirtland was driving with a third and goal on the two-yard line. What looked like a great defensive stop by Marion Local soon turned into Kirtland sitting with a first and goal as the Flyers were called for encroachment.
That was just the break Kirtland was looking for and senior running back Jake Neibecker made the one-yard plunge putting Kirtland up 7-0.
Kirtland used Neibecker and his 107 rushing yards as part of a dominating 303-yard rushing performance. Joining in the fun was Joey Torok (90 yards) and quarterback Tommy Powers (70 yards).
Marion Local didn’t flinch answering with a ten play, 65-yard drive that ended with Brandon Fleck punching it in the end zone on a one-yard run to tie the game.
At this point everyone was feeling this game would come down to the end before crowning a champion.
After each team traded possessions, Kirtland would put together another scoring drive chewing up almost six minutes of clock and ending when Luke Gardner would score from seven yards out. The point after attempt failed giving Kirtland a 13-7 advantage.
Marion Local quarterback Nathan Bruns looked ready to guide another scoring drive by the Flyers on their next possession hitting four out of five throws and placing the Flyers on the Kirtland 27 with 27-seconds left on the clock.
Instead, Kirtland’s, Connor Gron would intercept Bruns pass ending the drive giving the Hornets the edge going into the locker room. The Hornets would get add three points on a Mario Rodin 32-yard field goal in the third quarter putting them up 16-7.
In the fourth quarter the Flyers looked ready to get their offense in gear with a drive that placed them with a third and goal on the Kirtland three-yard line. Two failed rushing attempts and an incomplete pass was the Flyers coaching staff decide to take the field goal and let their defense get a stop with just under seven minutes left in the game. However, future Kent State lineman Jack Bailey spoiled the Flyers hopes of cutting into the Hornets lead by blocking the kick.
The Hornets never gave the Flyers the ball back coming away with the win and their fourth state championship.
The game also marked the seventh time the Hornets have reached the title game in the last eight seasons.
The loss by Marion Local ended the dominance of the Midwest Athletic Conference as this will be the first season since 2003, a team from the conference has not won a state title in football.
Chagrin Falls Kenston vs. Kettering Alter
FINAL Kenston: 42 Alter: 6
Despite each team being close in time of possession and each team opening the game with turnovers on their first possessions, Kenston would control the scoreboard.
After giving Alter the first score of the game when Knights senior quarterback Connor Bazelak hit Derek Willits for a 19-yard touchdown strike. The future Missouri quarterback struggled on the day going 14-of-31 for 162-yards, one touchdown and three interceptions while under pressure throughout the game being sacked twice.
On the flip side, Kenston junior quarterback Jon Tomcufcik would go 16-of-23 for 285 yards and three touchdowns for the Bombers with junior running back Jack Porter matching the touchdown output with three of his own on 116-yards rushing.
The Bombers offense posted 425 yards of total offense on 61 plays with an average play of seven yards.
It’s the first state title for the Bombers in three trips to the title game. The Knights come away with their third state runner-up trophy to go with two state tiles in the school’s history.
Cincinnati Colerain vs. Lakewood St. Edward
FINAL Colerain: 10 St. Edward: 24
The Colerain Cardinals have played great football all season while the Lakewood St. Edward Eagles have been hot during the playoffs. Friday night, one would see their season end with a loss.
After a fast and scoreless first quarter, Colerain would strike first late in the second quarter when Cardinals quarterback Deante Smith-Moore hit Syncere Jones on a 16-yard pass play and 7-0 advantage.
The Eagles wasted no time in responding with a three-play drive that ended with a one-yard touchdown run by Jordan Castleberry with just over a minute left in the quarter.
Tom Bolden didn’t sit on the ball settling for a tie at the half.
Instead, he got his offense going behind Smith-Moore and after a pass interference penalty against the Eagles, saw Chris Mangold hit on a 26-yard field goal and 10-7 lead at the half.
Despite the lead, the Cardinals would never score again as the Eagles would get a Gianluca Russo 25-yard field goal midway in the third quarter to tie the game and then a 23-yard touchdown pass from Garrett Dzuro to future Michigan wide receiver Quintel Kent to take their first lead of the game.
Midway in the fourth quarter, Dzuro and Kent would connect again on a 19-yard touchdown strike putting the Eagles up 24-10 and forcing the Cardinals to get away from their run first offensive attack.
Dzuro would go 12-of-12 passing for 150-yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 74 yards on 18 carries. Kent would show why Wolverine fans are excited about the playmaker as he pulled down eight balls for 120-yards and two scores. He ends his high school career as the school’s all-time leader in touchdown receptions with 22.
The win gives the Eagles their third state championship in the past five seasons and fourth title overall. Colerain takes home their first state runner-up to go with their 2004 state title.