Division III State Final Preview: Irish return after lengthy title game absence?

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JJHuddle State Football Coverage

The D-III State Championship has arrived. Whether you’re headed to Stark County or headed to the couch to watch on TV, here’s what you need to knowKeys, Two Cents, Stories, Stats, Top Players, Quotes, Notes & More.


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D-III STATE FOOTBALL PREVIEW

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AKRON ST. VINCENT-ST. MARY (12-2) vs BELLEVUE (13-1)

DIVISION III STATE FINAL
Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (12-2) vs Bellevue (13-1)
When:
Saturday, 11 a.m. at Canton Fawcett Stadium
LISTEN LIVE:
Click Here to Listen Live to the D-III Final
Background:
Only 11 teams in state history have four or more football titles. SVSM is one of them. This is Bellevue’s first football final. Old school vs New school. And Public vs Private.

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Akron SVSM (12-2/ONG JJH #5/AP #9)

Head Coach: Dan Boarman
Nickname: Fighting Irish
Affiliation: Independent
School-Type: Non-Public
2012 Regional Seed: 6 (Region 9)
2012 Regional Tournament: ONG JJH #10 Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin (W, 49-23); Hubbard (W, 54-14); ONG JJH #3/AP #2 Chagrin Falls (W, 34-7)
State Semifinal: Dover (W, 48-13)
State Championships: 4 (88, 82, 81, 72)
State Semifinal Appearances: 9 (12, 01, 91, 88, 82, 81, 79, 74, 72)
State Final Appearances: 6 (12, 88, 82, 81, 79, 72)
All-Time Tournament Record: 28-12

The Difference Makers:
*LB Dante Booker Jr., jr.: Top prospect has offers from Ohio State, Illinois, Indiana, Penn State and Michigan. Team’s second leading tackler (97 tackles, four caused fumbles).
*RB Paris Campbell Jr., jr.: 15-year old junior has tushed for 1,188 yards and 25 TDs. Said Broarman: “Every week he is getting better.”
*WR Jordan Hargrove, sr.: Holds multiple school receiving records. Has 73 catches for 1,163 yards and 13 TDs.
*QB Clayton Uecker, sr.: Has thrown for 2,859 yards and 30 TDs.
*WR Franshon Bickley, sr.: Has caught 48 passes for 1,039 yards and 12 TDs.
*LB Newman Williams, jr.: Team’s leading tackler (111 tackles, three INTs, two fumble recoveries).
*DB Nathan Bischof, jr.: Has a team-leading six INTs.
*LB/RB Vince Lockett, so.: Has nine TDs and 74 tackles.

The Story: Boarman is an alum of SVSM and was the DC for two of the Irish’s previous state championship teams.…SVSM is in its sixth state final, but first since 1988…Irish are 4-1 in previous five finals. Their one loss was 7-6 to Ironton in 1979.

Key: Weapons. SVSM has plenty. The offense has a QB that’s thrown for 30 TDs and nearly 3,000 yards; a RB that’s rushed for over 1,000 yards and 25 TDs; and two WRs that have at least 12 TDs and 1,000 yards each. Said Boarman: “It’s nice to know you have go-to guys in several different positions. We’re able to both run and throw the ball and that’s been key to our offensive success.”

Two Cents: SVSM may be the most unheralded team at state. The Irish lost to Mooney and Massillon Washington during the season but have quietly put together an impressive run. Said Boarman: “Our theme throughout the year has been ‘We have to take care of ourselves.’ We’re a good football team. If we play to our capabilities and we play with enthusiasm, we play with discipline and we play with focus, we’re a team to beat.”

Coach’s Quote: “I’m impressed with all aspects. If we continue playing like this we’re a team to be reckoned with. Our offense and our defense both contributed big-time to our last two victories. It’s hard to pick one right now. And to win the state championship you need it all.”

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Bellevue (13-1/ONG JJH #4/AP #7)

Head Coach: Ed Nasonti
Nickname: Redmen
Affiliation: Northern Ohio League
School-Type: Public
2012 Regional Seed: 2 (Region 10)
2012 Tournament: Elida (W, 19-14); Sandusky Perkins (W, 28-27); ONG JJH #8/AP #1 Napoleon (W, 35-20)
State Semifinal: ONG JJH #1/AP #4 Dayton Thurgood Marshall (W, 34-33)
State Championships: 0
State Semifinal Appearances: 3 (12, 01, 96)
State Final Appearances: 1 (12)
All-Time Tournament Record: 13-13

The Difference Makers:
*QB/DB Jalen Santoro, sr.:
Three-year starter who assumed controls early sophomore season has accounted for 52 TDs this season. Santoro has rushed for 2,196 yards and thrown for 1,621. Said Nasonti: “The offense suits him and he suits the offense. One of the best athletes I’ve ever been around.” 
*WR/DB Nick Raifsnider, sr.: Has 55 tackles and six INTs.
*WR/DB Derek Smith, sr.
*WR/DB Trent Stam, sr.
*RB/DE Dalton Jarvis, sr.

The Story: Nasonti has been at Bellevue for 32 years, the last 22 as head coach. Bellevue has only had three head coaches since 1951 and Nasonti played for both of the prior two…Bellevue beat the AP’s No. 1 team (Napoleon) in the regional final and beat the Ohio National Guard JJHuddle Power Poll No. 1 (Thurgood Marshall) in the state semifinals.

Key: Santoro. A special talent and surrounded by what Nasonti calls a group of “outstanding skill players,” Santoro is the Bellevue catalyst. He’s on pace to earn 12 varsity latters in football, basketball and track. When asked if Santoro’s recent play has led to him becoming a local legend, Nasonti answered: “I think that was probably established a while ago. We’ve never had anyone able to do the things he can.”…Last week against Marshall, Santoro ran for 211 yards and four TDs on 35 carries, including 34 straight at one time. He also caught a TD pass on a halfback pass. In a 35-20 win over Napoleon in the regional finals, Santoro ran for 239 yards on 45 carries. At one point in that game he ran 25 straight times.

Two Cents: Higher Power. Bellevue seems to have one on its side. After a 5-point win over Elida in the regional quarterfinals, the Redmen trailed Perkins with less than a minute to go in the regional semis but used an interception on fourth down to set up the game-winning TD with four seconds left. Said Nasonti: “That’s something that I’ve never been a part of before and certainly a memory that will live for a long time in Bellevue.”…In the state semifinals, Bellevue rallied from a 33-20 deficit with 11 minutes to go to beat Marshall 34-33.

Coach’s Quote: “It hasn’t been easy and maybe a little too exciting, but we’ve enjoyed the ride so far through these four games. Anyone will tell you when you’re making a run like we are you have to have some breaks go your way and we’ve gotten some. You need those to get you over the hump.”

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Playoff Brackets

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