Norwalk St. Paul removes the monkey; Flyers win first state championship

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St. Paul’s Eric Schwieterman ran for three TDs in the Flyers D-VI win. (Photo by Gary Housteau)

The Division VI state championship game lasted a little
over two hours Saturday, but it will be talked about for years.
Needing to go 98 yards against the defending state champions with 3:22
left on the clock, Norwalk St. Paul found enough guts and lifted a huge
weight off of head coach John Livengood’s shoulders.


VIDEO: GAME ACTION, AWARDS AND POSTGAME INTERVIEWS

MASSILLON – The Division VI state championship game lasted a little
over two hours Saturday, but it will be talked about for years.
Needing to go 98 yards against the defending state champions with 3:22
left on the clock, Norwalk St. Paul found enough guts and lifted a huge
weight off of head coach John Livengood’s shoulders.

Quarterback Eric
Schwieterman propelled the Flyers to victory with his 1-yard TD run
with five seconds left as St. Paul beat Delphos St. John’s 24-21 at
Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

The Flyers were 0-3 in state title games before Saturday and were 0-2 against St. John’s. That stigma has been squashed.

“We
talked to the kids and said you know the state championship’s on the
line with five seconds left and it comes down to this one play,”
Livengood said. “They were able to get it in.”

Schwieterman’s TD
came on third down after two straight QB sneaks from the 1-yardline
failed. This time Schwieterman went out one gap farther and found just
enough room.

“We knew they were bringing every one up the middle
and there was a little bit of a crease to the outside so we figured
there would be a better chance if we bounced it out,” Schwieterman
said. “There was a little gap there that we were able to squeeze it
into.”

When asked how close the final play was, Schwieterman said: “I had the ball across the line.”

Livengood is
St. Paul football in the fact that he’s led the Flyers to all 13 of
their playoff berths since taking over 20 years ago. In that time frame
St. Paul has won six regional titles.

As big a part Livengood
has played in making St. Paul the program it is, Schwieterman played
just as large a part in Saturday’s victory.

The senior
quarterback led an offense that churned out 430 yards with 147 yards
rushing and three TDs on 30 carries. He also completed 8-of-13 passes
for 187 yards.

Schwieterman continually made play after play
against a St. John’s defense that was allowing 209 yards of offense
entering the contest.

On the final drive alone the Flyer QB
connected with Justin Wilde on gains of 36 and 38 yards, the latter
coming on fourth-and-three from the St. Paul 48.

His legs and arm did damage.

“Eric
had a great game – not just running the ball but throwing it,”
Livengood said. “One of the things we felt coming into the game was
that we had to have Eric run the ball for us and try to spread Delphos
out defensively. He’s got good size and speed and we felt like we
needed to use him.”

Despite dominating the stat sheet, St. Paul found itself down 21-10 entering the fourth quarter.

Huge special teams plays kept the Blue Jays in the game and on top until the final seconds.

An
86-yard kickoff return for a TD by Jordan Bergfeld and an 89-yard punt
return by Tyler Bergfeld (which led to a TD) were key to a DSJ attack
that mustered just 176 total yards.

Still, with less than four minutes to go, the Blue Jays had a chance to put the game away.

In
front 21-17, DSJ drove to the St. Paul 3-yardline but was stuffed on
fourth down. St. John’s head coach Todd Shulte elected not to go for
the field goal and a seven-point lead.

“(There was) no thought
whatsoever about kicking the field goal,” Shulte said. “The last two
weeks our backs have been against the wall and our kids have come out
swinging, so we thought we’d give them another chance. We drove the
ball down there and figured lets do what we do best and run the ball.”

The failed fourth down set up St. Paul’s heroics – and eventual celebration.

“It’s
been a fun 19 years and we’ve had a lot of success,” Livengood said.
“It really hasn’t sunk in yet about a state championship. You say it,
but…it’s our ultimate goal.”

Said Shulte: “We got here by making that one play. Tonight they made the one play we didn’t.”

STREAK SNAPPED

DSJ’s
loss, coupled with Coldwater’s loss in the D-V title game Friday, ended
a string of six straight seasons in which the Midwest Athletic
Conference had won a state football title. The MAC still has 19 state
champions since 1989, but was denied in its bid – twice – for No. 20.

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