Thursday night the La Salle Lancers finished a magical season by winning the OHSAA Division II state championship over Massillon Washington 34-17 in front of a reported attendance of 11,286 fans.
The Lancers proved their worth during the regular season winning the Greater Catholic League South, but their win over Massillon gives the Lancers a fourth state title in the last six seasons with three different head coaches.
All season long head coach Pat McLaughlin placed on the field a team with a strong defense and an even stronger running attack starting with junior quarterback Zach Branam. However, the junior quarterback was not alone as senior running back Cameron Porter and super sophomore Gi’Bran Payne proved hard to stop.
Porter, who will be signing with Northwestern in the middle of the month, spoke with FirstStarFootballReport.com about ending his career a state champion.
“It feels amazing,” said Porter. “We knew coming into this season winning a GCL Championship and a state championship were our goals and we accomplished both of them.”
After giving up a big pass play to the Tigers the Lancers defense stepped forward to hold their opponent to only a field goal. A little more than two-minutes later the Lancers got on the board with a six-yard run by Payne that included the first time in Ohio High School history instant replay has been used.
Branam led the way with 22 carries for 166 yards but Payne and Porter carried the load when called. Payne would rush for 133 yards on 15 carries and Porter would add 57 yards with three touchdowns.
In the fourth quarter future Ohio State kicker Jake Seibert who earned First-team All-Ohio honors early in the week, would add his name to the OHSAA record books kicking one of two field goals including a D2 state title game record from 43 yards out.
Seibert spoke with FirstStarFootballReport.com about the record setting kick and ending his career as a state champion.
“It’s a blessing to be able to kick that field goal,” said Seibert. “I couldn’t have done it without my line, long snapper and holder. I was super excited to have an opportunity to make that kick.
“Going out a champion is awesome… we’ve been working since last season after having a bad season. We played a very hard schedule and to finish it off saying I’m a state champion is truly amazing.”
Defensively outside of a few long pass completions by Tigers quarterback Aidan Longwell, including touchdown throws of 38-yards to Jayden Ballard and 69 yards to Andrew Wilson-Lamp the Lancers tamed the Tigers offense especially their running game giving up only 82 yards and keeping the Tigers out of the end zone the rest of the night on their way to the title.
Payne again played a role on defense with four tackles, a tackle for a loss and forcing a fumble. Senior Luke Thiemann led the Lancers with seven tackles including 1.5 sacks, two tackles for loss and a forced fumble.
The Lancers finish the season 13-2 knocking off the No. 1 ranked team in Division II with many feeling they are the best team in Ohio no matter their division.