After losing out on the Firelands title last season, St. Paul head coach John Livengood said his team made winning the conference its first goal this season.
“We are really proud to win the (Firelands) Conference,” Livengood said. “We say all the time it’s our first goal and our second goal is to make the playoffs. We’re real excited and it’s a great accomplishment for the kids. After not winning last year, it’s something we really wanted.”
The teams will meet up again next Saturday as well in the first round of the Division VI state playoffs. St. Paul (9-1) earned the No. 2 seed, while Monroeville (6-4) is No. 7.
The Flyers flew past the Eagles this time on the arm and legs of sophomore quarterback Eric Schwieterman, who finished the night 8-for-18 passing for 184 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 27 yards rushing, including several critical first down runs.
Livengood has been pleased all season with the progress made by his young signal caller.
“Eric has progressed all year long, he’s gotten better every week,” said Livengood. “So far though, we haven’t had a chance to display him. He’s doing a nice job, had a nice game tonight, and I’m glad it was him who stepped up.”
Also stepping up in a big way was the St. Paul defense. They held the Eagles to only 119 yards of total offense. The defense really tightened the clamps on Monroeville in the second half, where St. Paul limited the Eagles to only 4 yards of offense, and -17 on the ground. The Flyers also held the Eagles to zero first downs in the second half.
Although his team couldn’t accomplish much, Monroeville head coach Steve Ringholz was pleased with his team’s defense effort. “Our kids played their hearts out tonight, we made St. Paul work for everything they got,” said Ringholz. “Both teams played really good defense, they played better offense.”
With the defenses dominating the early stages of the game, St. Paul was able to break the game’s first big play. Schwieterman connected with running back Joe Graziani in the flat and Graziani raced up the sideline 62 yards for the game’s first touchdown.
In the second quarter, Monroeville caught the first and only break of the night, when Andy Frank fumbled a punt on his own 10 yard line. As the ball squirted into the end zone, Nick O’Neil recovered it for an Eagle touchdown. The extra point was blocked and St. Paul kept their lead at 7-6.
The Flyers built on the momentum from the blocked kick, and answered with a 9 play 69 yard drive. Schwieterman took advantage of a rare lapse in the Monroeville coverage and threw a 33 yard touchdown pass to a wide open Adam Pugh to push the lead to 14-6 heading into halftime.
As the St. Paul defense was keeping Monroeville in check in the second half, their own offense began to sputter. However, they would soon create the opportunity the needed to put the game away. Cory Schaffer intercepted a Brian Ringholz pass at the Eagle 37 yard line.
It appeared St. Paul might not be able to capitalize as they faced a fourth down and 11. This time it was Schwieterman’s legs making the big play as he rushed for 14 yards and a first down to keep the drive going. Three plays later, Matt Wilde capped off the drive with a one yard touchdown dive to put the game away at 21-6.
As for the rematch, each coach would like to see his team perform better.
“We made a lot of mistakes tonight,” Livengood said. “We had turnovers, missed blocks, dropped passes. We can’t have that in the playoffs.”
Said Monroeville coach Steve Ringholz when asked what he would like to do differently: “Are you sure you want to write them all down?”