Three down. Three to go. The first day of the Ohio High School Football Finals wrapped Friday with fireworks in Stark County. How explosive was the day? A new state scoring record was set, a QB accounted for seven TDs and parochial schools went 2-0 against public opponents. Here’s who won and what we learned from it…
What We Learned Friday: State Championships
1. Hartley is more than just Noah Key: Although Hartley senior RB Noah Key commanded most of the attention heading into Friday’s D-IV state final – and rightfully so – the Hawks proved that they are far from a one man team. In the Hawks 34-13 win over Chagrin Falls at Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, Key, who had 2,755 yards and 37 TDs entering the game, ran for a game-high 130 yards and two TDs on 24 carries, but Hartley had another 100-yard back in Omar Lane who tallied 117 yards and a TD on just six carries. Hartley QB Austin Underwood also had a big day throwing for 79 yards and two TDs on 5-of-6 passing. Lane and Underwood are seniors. Sophomore JaWaun Woodley caught three balls for 69 yards and a TD and added seven carries for 32 yards. The victory secured Hartley’s second football title overall and first since 1986.
2. Chagrin Again in 2011? Despite the fact it lost 22 seniors from last year’s state runner-up team, Chagrin Falls made it back to the D-IV state title game this year and again finished second. Don’t fret Tigers fans, there’s a good chance Chagrin Falls will make another appearance in the state finals in the next two years. Despite falling to Hartley 34-13, the Tigers had multiple contributions from several underclassmen. Sophomores Bradley Munday (RB), Tommy Iammarino (QB) and Jack Campbell (RB) all performed well in starting roles. That trio will return as will nine other starters combined on both sides of the ball. Looking ahead to next season, expect Chagrin Falls to be a state championship challenger whether it be in D-IV or III (OHSAA divisional realignment occurs this offseason).
3. DSJ delivers a sMACk Down: Delphos St. John’s 77-6 victory over Shadyside in the D-VI final set a multitude of records. The Blue Jays set all division records for points scored (77) and margin of victory (71). DSJ also set D-VI final records for rushing yards (416) and points in a quarter (28). Individually DSJ senior RB Evan Burgei set a D-VI state finals record by accounting for 24 points. Burgei ran for 123 yards and three TDs and also caught a 30-yard scoring pass. Overall, the state championship was the 20th earned in football by the Midwest Athletic Conference (all since 1989). No other league or conference even comes close to matching that feat. It also marked the 11th time in 17 years of the Division VI final that a MAC school has won that classification. Against Shadyside, DSJ racked up 552 total yards and forced seven turnovers. Dominance is spelled M-A-C. Plain and simple.
4. All-Ohio isn’t exactly that: Had a couple coaches ask me today what was up with the All-Ohio teams. Seems like they weren’t sold on them and how the process worked and they aren’t alone. Despite being one of the most prestigious honors a high school football player can earn in Ohio, the All-Ohio teams – selected by the Associated Press – leave something to be desired and people scratching their heads. Consider, last year Delphos St. John’s junior running back Jordan Leininger was named first team All-Ohio in D-VI. This year, after moving from TB to QB, Leininger was left off the All-Ohio team. Didn’t even earn special mention. So what did Leininger do this season? Well, coming into the D-VI state final against Shadyside, all Leinger had done was rush for over 1,000 yards for the third straight season and throw for 1,261 more. He also accounted for 27 TDs in Weeks 1-14. In Week 15 – the state final – Leininger had 237 yards of total offense and accounted for four TDs (all in the first half) as St. John’s beat Shadyside 77-6 for its sixth state title overall and second in three years. Leininger wasn’t good enough to be named All-Ohio though? Guess he’ll have to settle for another state title and Midwest Athletic Confernece Offensive Player of the Year honors. Also, lets make a note of where Leininger’s college recruitment goes from here. Every year it seems like there’s at least one player who raises their stock significantly with an outstanding state final. This year Leinginer may be that guy. Despite having interest from small schools, Leinigner doesn’t have a D-I offer – yet.
5. Private 2, Public 0: For those counting – and there are a ton of you – private schools won both their games against public schools Friday. The combined score was 111-19 with Hartley and Delphos St. John’s posting wins over Chagrin Falls and Shadyside, respectively. Public schools get three more cracks at Private opponents Saturday with a private-public match-up in Divisions I, III and V.
6. Maple Heights can come from behind – and play defense (when it matters): Early in the second quarter of the D-II state final at Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, Maple Heights found itself trailing Trotwood-Madison 26-7. Later in that same stanza the Mustangs found themselves down 26-13 and Trotwood threatening to take a 33-14 lead with a fourth and two from the Mustangs 3-yardline. However, the Rams went for it, got stuffed and eventually got beat. Maple Heights closed the game with a 38-7 run and captured the school’s first state title with a 45-33 victory. The goal line denial was key. Maple Heights, which finished runner-up last year to Winton Woods, completed a perfect season at 15-0.
7. Shaq is Special: And no, we’re not talking about O’Neal. Maple Heights senior QB Shaq Washington accounted for seven TDs – that’s right 7 – in the Mustangs win over Trotwood-Madison. Washington, who is headed to Cincinnati to play WR, ran for 174 yards and four TDs and threw for 216 yards and three TDs. For good measure he added 3.5 tackles.
Columbus Hartley 34, Chagrin Falls 13
Delphos St. John’s 77, Shadyside 6
Maple Heights 45, Trotwood-Madison 33