Two teams. Unchartered territory. Eight lead changes. 951 total
yards of massive destruction, 98 points, and 45 first downs. A
four-week beard. A mohawk and tattoo. A 21-point advantage. A 35-point
comeback. Batman. Superman. The Incrdible Hulk. And Wonder Woman? The
MVPHD Game of the Week – another dandy…
Video by Alex Sator
DOWN 35-14, SPRINGFIELD SHAWNEE RALLIES FOR A STUNNING WIN OVER ELIDA
By Tim Langevin
Elida’s Reggie McAdams riddled Springfield Shawnee’s vaunted defense with an aerial assault. The senior quarterback threw for 322 yards and five TDs the first 23 minutes of the game and the Bulldogs forged ahead 35-14.
Shawnee QB Brad Jarzab answered with a 42-point barrage of his own, rushing for 151 yards and two TDs, including the go-ahead electrifying 68-yard romp with 6:50 left in the game; and he passed for 123 yards and two scores.
And the Braves overshadowed another first-half eclipse, defeating the Dawgs 56-42 Friday in the D-III state semi-finals at Piqua’s Alexander Stadium. The 8,400 plus fans got their money’s worth as they witnessed two phenomenal quarterbacks showcase their wills and skills.
Shawnee (14-0) advances to the championship game against Youngstown Cardinal Mooney (11-3), a 24-23 winner over Chagrin Falls in the other semi-final contest. The game will be played Friday at Canton’s Fawcett Stadium at 3:00 PM.
One can bet, all of Clark County will be there. This is the first state championship appearance in school history. The Braves are the first team since Springfield Central Catholic in 1992 to make the title game and the second team in the Central Buckeye Conference since Urbana in 1983.
Shawnee coach Rick Meeks said, “I’ve watched the state finals several times, but this will be my first time on the field. It is a great opportunity. We know all about them (Mooney). They have the home field advantage. Seven-time state champs. It will be us against the world. But you know what, the pressure is on them…We will get to work and then get after it. Why not? Why not us week 15?”
“It hurts. It’s tough to swallow,” said Elida coach Jason Carpenter. “Give them credit for coming back. This season gives us a great deal of optimism for the football program. This state appearance puts Elida on the football map.”
It wasn’t that long ago, Elida was the homecoming opponent for every team in the Western Buckeye League. In 2007 and 2008, Carpenter’s first two seasons, the Bulldogs were 0-20. Since then, they have improved to 5-5, 9-3, and now 10-4.
Elida capitalized on a fumble and struck first on the next play with a 44-yard TD pass from McAdams to Austin Etzler. Then Shawnee capitalized on an interception by Nick Hines and scored eight plays later on an eight-yard TD run by Jarzab to knot the score 7-7.
The Bulldogs answered with a quick five-play, 67-yard dash for a 14-7 first quarter lead. McAdams completed 3-of-4 passes for 67 yards, including a 38-yard TD hookup with Etzler.
The Braves responded with a 44-yard interception return for a TD by Drew Young. Game tied 14-14 with 11:48 until half.
The tone was set. It was a “don’t blink” pace as the second quarter produced 35 points combined with Elida on top 35-21. McAdams orchestrated the offense, completing 12-of-16 passes for 185 yards and three scores. The gunslinger utilized four different receivers in Etzler (4 catches-40 yards), Brandon Stinson (5-113), Nick Pauff (2-24), and Jeremy Newby who had an eight-yard TD reception to give Elida a supposed insurmountable 35-14 lead with :48 left until half.
Stinson and Etzler had busy nights. Stinson had 13 receptions for 169 yards and Etzler caught eight passes for 147 yards and three TDs.
The big lead didn’t phase Jarzab. He marched his troops 80 yards in five plays to cut the deficit 35-21. He capped it with a 35-yard TD strike to Nick Hines to end the wild and wooley first half. Talk about clutch.
So Jarzab talked about it, “We needed it bad. Getting that touchdown gave us some hope. I don’t think they expected us to pass. Their safety was playing run and that opened up the middle and we took advantage. We’ve been down 14 before at half, but 21 scared me.”
Junior RB Alex McCrory shared the same sentiment, “For the first time this season, I had some doubt we could win, but after the score before half and the score to start the third quarter, I knew we were going to win.”
McCrory rushed for 101 yards on 21 carries and one TD. On the season, he has 1,456 yards and 17 TDs. And most of his yardage gained behind senior OL Zack Ruf (A.K.A. Incredible Hulk). The kid is 6-4, 275 pounds and leads the team in pancakes with 16. Not the kind one eats, although he probably could eat that many.
Haven’t seen a more confident, relaxed and playful group of youngsters as on this Braves team. And it all starts with the coaching staff. Meeks hasn’t shaved since their playoff run started. Assistant coach Tim Seelig promised to get a mohawk haircut after regional final win and did. He also promised to add to the tattoo on his shoulder if the Braves win a state title.
But the topper belongs to McCrory (A.K.A Batman): “Last season I was watching 30 for 30 on ESPN and saw Maurice Jones-Drew who wore a super-hero character under his jersey every game. I liked the idea and that has become our theme this year – super-hero characters.”
“It’s supposed to be fun,” a drenched Meeks said. “My beard, the haircut, the theme the team adopted. It will all be gone next year.”
All fun aside, Shawnee took the second-half kickoff and marched 65 yards in nine plays to slice the lead 35-27. Jarzab dominated by land with 35 yards, including a nine-yard TD run and dominated via the air-waves with 23 yards.
Elida fumbled and Jordan Huggins pounced on it, giving Shawnee a short field from 32 yards out. Five plays later, Young punched it in the endzone from the one-yard-line. The game was dead-locked 35-35 with 3:24 left in the third quarter.
Young complemented the ground attack on this night with 54 yards on seven carries for a 7.7 average.
The Dawgs came right back with a 63-yard scoring drive to reclaim the lead 42-35. Junior RB Anthony Sumpter accounted for 54 yards on four totes, including a three-yard TD spurt. Sumpter finished the night with 56 yards on five carries.
Carpenter said, “Sumpter gave us a second-half lift, but our overall lack of a run threat hurt our passing efficiency.”
The fourth quarter belonged to Shawnee as they outscored Elida 21-zip.
Jarzab (A.K.A. Superman) lived up to his character, accounting for two scores – a 40-yard TD pass to Jordan Huggins and dazzling the crowd with a 68-yard TD romp. Jarzab finished the game completing 10-of-21 passes for 173 yards and two TDs. He rushed for 179 yards on 19 carries and three TDs.
Jarzab said about his 68-yard run, “I got one guy to miss me, then I cut it back and saw open grass and just ran as fast as I could.” He added, “We are making school history. But we’re not satisfied. We want more. I don’t care who we play. We could play the Packers…It’s such an exciting feeling. It’s all new to this town.”
After leading 49-42, Shawnee tacked on another score with 1:45 left in the game. McCrory plowed the endzone from five yards and Carly Gregory (A.K.A. Wonder Woman) added the extra point.
“She is a great athlete,” said Meeks. “She is a gamer and a part of our success.”
She was a perfect 8-of-8 on PATs to give her 57 points on the season. Due to the team’s success, she has missed the start of the girls basketball season. Last year she averaged 9.8 rebounds and shot 54% from the field.
McCrory said, “Playing in the CBC, we not used to playing spread teams. It’s different for us. Hard to adjust. We adapted better in the second half…We are a close group and that has helped us pull off the wins. It’s been magical. Wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
McAdams finished the game 31-of-47 for 394 yards and five TDs. This was his last football game. The 6-6 senior recently signed to play college basketball next year for Akron University.
Hines (A.K.A. Flash) caught two passes for 45 yards and gained 12 yards on the ground.
Meeks concluded, “That touchdown before half was pivotal. If we would’ve been down 21 instead of 14, it would’ve been a different mindset…We made some adjustments at half. Had the corners started playing the flats and taking away their curl routes. I’m proud of our secondary. They hung in there, especially the second half.”
The statisticians were on overload this contest. Elida gained 437 total yards and 20 first-downs, while Shawnee recorded 514 total yards and 25 first-downs. The difference was turnovers. Elida committed five and the Braves capitalized scoring five times. Shawnee committed one turnover, a fumble on its first possession of the game.
And so, the long journey, which started back in the “Dog Days” of summer, comes to a December end at the 40th Annual State Championships. One thing is certain, the memories for such teams like Springfield Shawnee, will never be forgotten.