Delphos St. John’s and Sidney Lehman Catholic find themselves on the
doorstep of the Division VI state championship game, and interestingly
enough, both run-oriented teams have arrived to this point of their
postseason journey with a surprising passing attack.
Delphos St. John’s and Sidney Lehman Catholic find themselves on the doorstep of the Division VI state championship game, and interestingly enough, both run-oriented teams have arrived to this point of their postseason journey with a surprising passing attack.
The Blue Jays (11-2) used two touchdown passes in their 38-28 regional final upset of Ada while the Cavaliers (11-1) scored once through the air in a stunning 28-13 win over second-ranked Mechanicsburg.
St. John’s head coach Todd Schulte, who has his team one win away from playing in its first state title game since winning it all in 2005, was pleased with the fact that the Blue Jays rolled up more than 100 yards through the air.
DSJ finished with 119 passing yards as quarterback Wes Ulm completed 6 of his 11 passes, including a pair of TD tosses to Jordan Leininger.
“We had our best passing game of the year against Ada and it gave us a more balanced attack,” Schulte said. “We also had a kick return for a touchdown and a field goal, and those 10 points made a big difference.”
Lehman Catholic not only tallied a 63-yard TD pass by Kameron Barton to Max Cartwright, it used a 40-yard halfback pass on a trick play that set up an early TD.
Cavs head coach Richard Roll believes his team’s passing attack has improved tremendously over the course of the season and hopes it will play a role in Friday’s 7:30 p.m. state semifinal showdown against the Blue Jays at Harmon Field in Wapakoneta.
“Our passing game has improved a lot,” Roll said. “I feel like our offense has been pretty consistent all year and we need to be as balanced as possible to have a chance to win.”
But the Cavs’ bread and butter is their rushing attack. Running backs Zac Schmitz, Kaleb Goins and Cartwright have combined to churn out over 3,000 rushing yards.
“They are a great running team and we need to be able to control the line of scrimmage,” Schulte said. “We want to make them one dimensional and force them to throw the ball as often as possible.
“We know our offense needs to be able control the ball,” Schulte continued. “We have to be able to hang onto the ball and not turn it over.”
DSJ is beaming with confidence after knocking off an Ada team that thrives on big plays and isn’t shy about throwing the ball all over the field.
The Bulldogs didn’t have a single scoring play that covered more than 16 yards even though they did finish with 406 yards of total offense.
DSJ rolled up 373 yards in the win, with 254 coming on the ground. Leininger led the way with 136 rushing yards and caught TD passes of 31 and 23 yards.
“Obviously beating Ada is a huge win for our team,” Schulte said. “It gives the kids more confidence, but we tried to keep things in perspective to make sure the kids do not think we are world beaters. That will help us re-focus as we get ready for Lehman.”
Roll expects his team to be challenged by the Blue Jays and is quick to note his keys to success on Friday night.
“St. John’s is a well-coached team and has a lot of tradition,” Roll said. “But we can’t worry about all of that. We have to control the ball on offense and be prepared defensively to stop their option and pitch.”
The Blue Jays realize beating Lehman Catholic won’t be easy, but Schulte believes his team’s defense could play a crucial role Friday night.
“We can’t give up big plays,” Schulte said. “We need to make sure we tackle well and not allow them to pick up first downs and keep drives going. We will be ready. It should be a good game.”