MECHANICSBURG – For those who think the balance of power in Division VI has shifted away from Region 24 with the departure of Marion Local, Dola Hardin Northern and Delphos St. John’s, think again.
Springfield Catholic Central reinforced the fact Friday that it has a legitimate chance to run Region 24’s string of consecutive state titles to four.
The Irish, ranked No. 2 in the ONN/Ohio High Power Poll, improved to 4-0 with an undressing of host Mechanicsburg in the Ohio Heritage Conference opener for both. SCC’s victory snapped a three-game losing streak to the Indians and established it as the team to beat for a regional title.
“It’s a thrill (to beat Mechanicsburg),” SCC head coach Steve DeWitt said. “These seniors last beat them when they were in eighth-grade and we reminded each other of that in the locker room before the ball game. This win means something to them. It is fun to beat a nemesis, an arch-rival.”
Said Mechanicsburg head coach Chris Kosiorek: “We can’t let this one loss destroy us.”
It was that kind of night for the hosts.
SCC dominated play and the statistics, outgaining the Indians 408-65 in total yards. Mechanicsburg mustered just three yards in the second half.
“Are you kidding me?” DeWitt asked after hearing the numbers. “Wow.”
Mechanicsburg quarterback Andy Huffman, who entered the contest averaging 244 yards passing per game, was handcuffed. The talented junior completed 5-of-10 passes for 24 yards and two interceptions. The Indians ground game produced 41 yards on 27 attempts.
“They took care of it,” Kosiorek said. “They came after us.”
Offensively, the Irish were just as dominant.
Junior quarterback Brendan Kelly completed 14-of-21 passes for 172 yards and two TDs. He also carried the ball eight times for 42 yards and another score. Standout two-way senior Brian Wagner edged closer to his fourth straight 1,000-yard season with 131 yards and a TD on 27 carries. He also scored a two-point conversion, had a TD called back and registered a team-high 13 tackles, including three sacks. Wagner now has 638 yards and nine TDs on the season.
“Brendan Kelly just dies to throw the football,” DeWitt said. “He hates the running game. There’s no venom or sourness that exists between Brendan and Brian. In fact there’s a great camaraderie that exists, it’s just that Brendan likes to throw the football. And he did a nice job with that tonight.”
Said Kelly: “I wanted to prove myself out there and prove that I’m a legit QB.”
Legitimacy was something all Irish players staked a claim to Friday.
Looking for its fifth straight postseason appearance, SCC has gone 1-1 in each of the four previous seasons. This year’s club has a goal of something greater.
“It seems like everything fell into the right place,” Wagner said. “Dola moving out and Marion moving up. It seems like everything is set in place. I don’t want to think too far ahead but it is definitely exciting.”
Said DeWitt: “I’m not sure we’ve played our best ballgame yet and that’s what I’m excited about. Everything is moving in the right direction for us.”