Springfield Catholic Central beats Lehman Catholic again

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Springfield CC 48, Lehman 14
Officially, Springfield Catholic Central didn’t get its
hands on the coveted regional championship trophy until after the game
Saturday. In reality, the Irish held a firm grasp on the title all
night. In a reversal of last year’s playoff meeting, SCC
dominated Sidney Lehman Catholic 48-14 in the Division VI, Region 24 title game in front of about 3,500
spectators at Alexander Stadium.


PIQUA — Officially, Springfield Catholic Central didn’t get its
hands on the coveted regional championship trophy until after the game
Saturday. In reality, the Irish held a firm grasp on the title all
night.

In a reversal of last year’s playoff meeting, Catholic Central
dominated Sidney Lehman Catholic 48-14 in front of about 3,500
spectators at Alexander Stadium. The Division VI, Region 24
championship was the first for the Irish since 1991, when they reached
the D-IV state title game. The margin of victory was surprising
considering Central needed a last-second field goal to win a D-VI
regional quarterfinal game in 2006.

“We’re happy we’re here, but we thought we could play a little bit
better,” said Lehman coach Dick Roll. “They are for real. Springfield
Catholic is a very good football team.”

Lehman (9-4) looked ready to spring the upset early.More...

A pitch to receiver Zachary Schmitz netted 50 yards down to the
Irish 23-yard line on the game’s first play. The Cavs scored six plays
later on Dan Jacob’s 4-yard run. The 7-0 lead with 8:34 left in the
first quarter gave the Cavs the momentum. It also gave Roll a moment of
concern.

“You had to figure it was going to be a struggle,” Roll said of
needing a half dozen plays to move the final 23 yards. “We struggled to
get the ball in the end zone after (Schmitz’s run). I knew it was going
to be a long night. I didn’t figure it was going to be that bad.”

Central (13-0) responded with touchdowns on its first six drives. It
tacked on another TD with an interception return to turn an anticipated
rematch into an unexpected mismatch.

“Coming off the field after their big play (Schmitz’s run), the kids
knew exactly what they were dealing with,” Catholic Central coach Steve
DeWitt said. “There was confidence in the fact about how we would be
able to attack on offense and defense. I didn’t feel the confidence
wane at all.”

Central tied it on the first of Brian Wagner’s four TDs, this one a
5-yard run, with 3:42 left in the first quarter. Wagner — the Southwest
District D-Vi player of the year, is pretty darn good on offense, too.
He finished with 188 yards on 23 carries, including a 74-yard sprint
just before halftime for a 27-7 lead.

“He’s tough. We’ve faced good backs this year. We just didn’t tackle
well tonight,” Roll said. “And a lot of that is because of Wagner. He’s
a stud. He’s very elusive.”

“We came out this game a lot more pumped up than we usually do,”
said Wagner, clinging to that regional trohy and not willing to give it
up until the buses reached Springfield. “We knew they were a very good
ball club and we prepared for that all week.”

Lehman, meanwhile, couldn’t get a handle on Central’s defense. After
Jacob’s first score, the Cavs didn’t crack the end zone until Jacob’s
1-yard TD with 9:16 left in the game. In between scores came three
punts, a turnover on downs and a devastating interception.

Tied at 7-7, Central defensive end Matt Shockey tipped a pass at the
line, hauled it in and rumbled 31 yards for the TD. The Irish led 13-7
(extra point was blocked) with 1:33 left in the first quarter.

“That really energized us all,” Wagner said. “It was a great effort by him to get into the end zone.”

He wasn’t the only one. In addition to Wagner’s four TDs of 5, 74, 4
and 32 yards, the Irish also scored on Nick Massaro’s 29-yard strike
from QB Brendan Kelly (20-7) and Kelly’s 1-yard plunge (41-7).

“We knew we could do this. We knew we had talent and heart on this
team,” said Kelly of an Irish team with just 29 healthy players. “The
number of players (on the roster) doesn’t matter to us. Eleven are on
the field at one time. That’s how we look at it.”

At times, though, it looked like the Irish sneaked an extra defender
or two on the field. A Cavs team averaging 359 yards coming in finished
with 277. Jacob, the D-VI Southwest District player of the year,
managed 139 yards on 23 carries. With the Cavs’ offense not geared
toward coming from behind, the Irish could focus on slowing Jacob.

“We didn’t come off the ball, plain and simple,” Roll said of
pushing the Irish back on defense. “They’re better than what I thought.”

Lehman QBs Spencer Peltier and Kameron Barton combined to complete
2-of-12 passes for 35 yards. Counterpart Kelly, meanwhile, completed
5-of-7 attempts for 104 yards. Three of those completions went to
Massaro for 87 yards.

“If we can come out the way we played this game for our next game, I
think we could be one of the tougher teams in the state,” Wagner said.

Saturday the definitely proved they were the best in the region. The
48 points was the most allowed by Lehman since a 49-29 loss to Hamler
Patrick Henry in Week 9. The final score was Central’s fourth-highest
offensive output this season, but its most against a team with a
winning record.

The challenge is to keep that going in the state semifinals. The
Irish find out today who and where they play with a trip to the state
title game up for grabs.

“It’s amazing,” Kelly said. “You can soak it up tonight, but we
gotta get to work this week. I think if we play to our capabilities we
can go pretty far. We need to keep our heads in it and go get it.”

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