SW OHIO: A DECADE OF TITLE GAMES 2015-2016

BLAKE BACEVICH OF 2016 DI CHAMPION ST. XAVIER HS

We continue our look at teams that made state championship game appearances as we get closer to the end of the decade.

We next look at 2015 and 2016 and teams filled with talent looking to secure a place in history with a state championship.

2015 SEASON

DIVISION ONE

HUBER HEIGHTS WAYNE (13-1)

LAKEWOOD ST. EDWARD (14-1)

DATE: DEC 5, 2015
STADIUM: OHIO STADIUM – COLUMBUS, OHIO
ATTENDANCE: 11,036

Wayne made their third trip to the finals in the decade facing off against Lakewood St. Edward in each match-up. These two teams in the past played some great games and 2015 was no different. For the Warriors, Daryl McCleskey led the team in rushing with 156 yards and one touchdown to go with receiver L’Christian Smith who pulled down three balls for 114 yards along with a touchdown from Messiah DeWeaver, who had transferred to Wayne from Trotwood-Madison for his senior year.  However, Matt Wilcox was the star of the game for the Warriors with two touchdowns rushing and a third receiving to go with three tackles on defense.

However, in the end the Warriors came up short again as Cole Gest rushed for two touchdowns on 122 yards rushing and quarterback Jimmy Keefe went 24-of-34 for 419 yards and two touchdowns to give St. Edward another state title 45-35 over the disappointed Warriors.

DIVISION TWO

CINCINNATI LA SALLE (13-2)

MASSILLON PERRY (12-3)

DATE: DEC 4, 2015
STADIUM: OHIO STADIUM – COLUMBUS, OHIO
ATTENDANCE: 11,168

La Salle may have had a new head coach in Jim Hilvert but they returned many of the key players from the previous years impressive 55-20 state championship win over Macedonia Nordonia. If people thought the Lancers were good the previous year, 2015 proved the program was one of the best in the decade. In the first quarter offensive lineman Luke Doerger would recover the ball in the endzone for the first points in the game. Jeremy Larkin added two scores and Jarrel White and Nick Watson each added scores.

On defense Tre’Sean Smith would make the biggest play with a 47-yard pick-six and White would add a team leading 10 tackle performance to close out another impressive championship season with a 42-0 win.

2016 SEASON

DIVISION ONE

CINCINNATI ST. XAVIER (10-5)

CLEVELAND ST. IGNATIUS (13-2)

DATE: DEC 2, 2016
STADIUM: OHIO STADIUM – COLUMBUS, OHIO
ATTENDANCE: 13,690

A Week One shutout loss (34-0) to St. John Bosco (California) followed by a Week Two overtime loss to Colerain didn’t have many thinking St. Xavier was a team to talk about winning a state championship in 2016. However, the season proved to be one of streaks as the Bombers used two quarterbacks in Sean Clifford and Chase Wolf to run off four straight wins before suffering a three-game losing streak. A win over Louisville (KY) St. Xavier to close the season gave the Bombers a No. 5 seed in Region Four and after an opening playoff win over Fairfield, the magic started as two of the next three playoff games would be won in overtime.

The state championship game would prove to be no different as it would take two overtimes before the Bombers scratched out a 27-20 thriller becoming the first team in Ohio high school history to win a state championship with five losses.

Despite being sacked eight times, Clifford would pass for 142 yards and two touchdowns with his main target being Andrew Wittrock. But the play many will remember came in the fourth quarter when Blake Bacevich recovered a fumble and scored to give the Bombers their first lead in the game at 17-10. Ignatius responded on a 14 play; 80-yard drive that saw Patrick Ryan find Michael Drobnick for a 17-yard touchdown strike with just over a minute left in regulation. Both teams traded field goals in the first overtime and Clifford would hit Wittrock for the game winning seven-yard touchdown pass giving the Bombers their third football state championship and first since 2007.

DIVISION TWO

CINCINNATI LA SALLE (13-2)

MASSILLON PERRY (13-2)

DATE: DEC 1, 2016
STADIUM: OHIO STADIUM – COLUMBUS, OHIO
ATTENDANCE: 6,750

La Salle made their third-consecutive title game and second match-up against Massillon Perry.  While not as dominate as the previous two years the Lancers still found a way to come away with the win. Lancers head coach Jim Hilvert saw his squad get off to a slow start as Perry junior Dominick Bowman intercepted a screen pass and returned it 17 yards for the first points of the game. While the Lancers offense sputtered, Tre’Sean Smith would give them their spark as he rushed for a game high 124 yards and touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters to give the Lancers a 14-7 win and their third consecutive state title.

DIVISION THREE

TROTWOOD-MADISON (12-3)

AKRON HOBAN (14-1)

DATE: DEC 3, 2016
STADIUM: OHIO STADIUM – COLUMBUS, OHIO
ATTENDANCE: 7,396

Despite a 137-yard rushing performance from Raveion Hargrove, Trotwood-Madison failed to put any points on the board as a Danny Clark led Hoban squad captured their second consecutive state championship 30-0. Rams head coach Jeff Graham showed the program was still to be reckoned with as one of the top in Ohio as they rebounded after a Week One loss to Troy and Week Ten loss to Wayne to march through the playoffs knocking off Toledo Central Catholic to reach the finals. The loss marked the Rams fifth state runner-up finish, and eighth consecutive year of making it to the state semifinals.

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