So what’s happening at the state football finals? Plenty. Here are 10 storylines to wet your appetite for what should be a truly remarkable weekend of high school football. There are first-time teams, familiar faces, friends, foes…and plenty of football. And it all starts Friday.
10 Storylines to follow this weekend at the 38th annual Ohio State Football Championships:
The MAC is going for its eighth and ninth state titles in five years:
No football conference in Ohio has been more dominant over the last 20
years than the Midwest Athletic Conference. The MAC owns 19 state
titles (all since 1989) and has a chance to win two this season for the
fourth time in the last five years. Coldwater faces Youngstown Ursuline
in D-V and Delphos St. John’s tackles Norwalk St. Paul in D-VI. The
Cavs and Blue Jays already accomplished a sweep once when both won
state titles in 2005.
The MAC got five teams in the playoffs
this season and the three that lost – St. Henry, Anna and Marion Local
– all fell to fellow MAC squads. The conference was 11-0 against
“Obviously we cheer for our league teams
expect for when we have to face them again in the playoffs,” DSJ head
coach Todd Shulte said. “When Marion Local got in again I had a pretty
good idea of what was going to happen if we kept winning and it
happened. We have a lot of pride in our league. Coldwater had to beat
Anna in overtime, and then St. Henry in four overtimes and we had to
beat Marion in overtime. I think that speaks volumes for the strength
of our league.”
2. Parochial Power Play: The Youngstown
Mooney and Columbus DeSales match-up in D-III is one of titanic
traditions. Combined, DeSales and Mooney have 43 playoff berths, 95
playoff wins (Mooney 48 and DeSales 47) and nine state titles. Counting
this season, the teams have played in a combined 18 state championship
games. The Cardinals, which have now been in the state final five of
the last six years, are 6-3 and the Stallions are 3-4 in their previous
state finals. They’ve never played each other with a championship on
the line although they did meet in Week 2 with Mooney winning.
obviously met earlier in the year (Week 2) and it was evident at that
point that they were a team that was going to be deserving to be here
in Week 15,” Mooney head coach P.J. Fecko said.
head coach Ryan Wiggins: “I felt like the first game they beat us. They
controlled the line of scrimmage and they rushed for almost 300 yards.
They played their style of football and we weren’t able to play ours.
One of the things we have to do is play a little better upfront.”
Glenville in first state title game: The Tarblooders have had their
share of NFL players (Ted Ginn, Jr., Troy Smith, Pierre Woods) and
big-time college players (seven currently on Ohio State’s roster alone)
but they’ve never won a state championship. This weekend – in their
first appearance – Glenville will be looking to solidify its place in
Ohio history with its first title.
“It means everything,”
Glenville head coach Ted Ginn said. “It’s an example that we’ve proved
hard work pays off and that we stayed the course.”
We are the Alter Knights: The Knights are on quite a four-year run. On
the field Alter has put together four straight undefeated regular
seasons (had to forfeit two wins last season) and has made the state
championship game three times. In 2006 Alter lost 34-33 to Steubenville
in the D-III state final and last season beat Big Red in the D-IV
championship. In 2007, the Knights lost to eventual state champion
Coldwater 59-52 in five OTs in the regional semifinals. This year the
Knights have allowed 13 points in the postseason and have won every
game they’ve played by at least 15 points.
“If it comes down to
whether or not we can handle a close ball game and our kids can’t
handle that challenge than we will not be the state champion,” Alter
head coach Ed Domsitz said. “I expect this to be a close ballgame. We
expect to prepare our kids for every eventuality and if you look at
this team we’re playing (Chagrin Falls) I think this game has a chance
to be a real close ballgame. If we can’t handle that pressure based on
what we’ve been through the last few years than we probably don’t
deserve to be state champion. They will be the best team we’ve faced
5. Delphos St. John’s vs Norwalk St. Paul
III: It’s been 10 years since these two last met, but their last two
meetings have been in the D-VI state final. St. John’s won the 1999
meeting 42-10 after winning 42-28 in 1997. Overall, the Jays are 5-0 in
state finals, while the Flyers are 0-3. In regards to small school
parochial football, these two teams are the state’s best since 1995.
Sorry Newark Catholic.
“We had an outstanding team in 1997 and
that was a game that was back-and-forth,” St. Paul head coach John
Livengood said. “In 1999…We were able to make the finals and we ran
into a buzz saw. But that’s 10 years ago and we’ve played and coached a
lot of games since then.”
Said Shulte: “We have seen some similarities. But it’s been 10 years and there’s a lot of things we do different.”
match-up in this game to watch out for is the battle between running
backs. DSJ junior Jordan Leininger has rushed for 1,494 yards and 30
TDs on 203 carries, while SP senior Blake Griffin has rushed for 1,457
yards and 28 TDs on 211 carries.
6. Coldwater the team
of the decade? The Cavaliers have won more football games (123) than
any other school in the state since 2000. They’ve also won two state
titles and are playing in their fourth state final. Since 2000,
Coldwater is 93-7 in the regular season and of their seven losses, four
(and potentially five with DSJ still alive this season) were to teams
that eventually won state titles.
“The key to longevity and
success is your offseason program,” Coldwater head coac John Reed said.
“You have to have guys that buy into what it takes to win. Everyone
wants to win but they’re all not willing to put in the work it takes to
get there. All these kids have bought in and each class comes along and
says ‘We don’t want to be the ones who are going to letdown.’ As soon
as this Friday is over, on Monday – all our kids who are coming back –
will be in the weight room working towards next year already.”
Youngstown Ursuline back to title game without Jamel Turner: The
defending D-V state champions entered this season with high
expectations and have delivered despite losing senior standout Jamel
Turner. Turner, a 6-2, 215 pound defensive end and former OHSAA state
hurdles champion, transferred to Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy
before the season started. He is committed to Ohio State. This is
Ursuline’s third straight trip to the state finals.
perspective it’s a testament to the type of kids (we have),” Ursuline
head coach Dan Reardon said. “They’ve played in a lot of football games
over the last three years and that does nothing but make the entire
program better. I don’t think our kids truly appreciate what they’ve
done yet. When they get a little older it will start to hit them how
significant this three-year run has been.”
8. How many
points will be put on the board in D-II? First time state finalists
Maple Heights and Winton Woods both have been putting it to the
competition. Winton Woods is averaging 48 points per game in the
playoffs and slapped 69 on Columbus Marion-Franklin in the state semis.
Maple Heights is averaging 30 points per game in the postseason.
“They have athletes all over the field,” Maple Heights coach Todd Filtz said.
Winton Woods head coach Troy Everhart: “You can see the toughness in
the way they play and you have to admire it as a coach.”
Central Ohio power shift? Before the season a show of hands as to how
many people thought a Central Ohio team would win the big school state
title this season probably wasn’t worth counting outside of Franklin
County. Now the region (and same school – Hilliard Davidson) has a
chance to own two of the last four D-I state titles – which would be
one more than Cincinnati and Cleveland over that span.
watch Army, Navy or the Air Force Academy or Georgia Tech, that’s kind
of who we try to be like,” HD head coach Brian White said. “I’m not
saying we’re nearly as effective as those schools are but we’re trying
to run the football. That’s kind of what we’re known for.”
Parochial vs Public: What would championship weekend be without a
little debating. As usual the hot topic is private vs public. In D-I
and II all four schools are public and in D-III and VI al four are
private. That leaves two head-to-head match-ups in D-IV (Chagrin Falls
vs Alter) and V (Coldwater vs Ursuline). Last year private schools won
four of six titles. In 2007, public schools won four of six.