Division V State Final Preview: Kirtland & Coldwater ready for rare rematch


JJHuddle State Football Coverage

The D-V 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.




KIRTLAND (14-0) vs COLDWATER (14-0)

Coldwater (14-0) vs Kirtland (14-0)
Saturday, 3 p.m. @ Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium
Click Here to Listen Live to the D-V Final
Rematch of last year’s state final that Kirtland won 28-7…These teams have combined to play in 88 out of a possible 90 games the last three years (Coldwater 45 and Kirtland 43)…Coldwater has more playoff losses (15) in its history than Kirtland has playoff wins (13) – the Hornets, however, are looking to win as many titles in 10 less appearances…this is one of two state finals (D-IV the other) that features two undefeated teams.


Coldwater (14-0/ONG JJH #1/AP #1)

Head Coach: Chip Otten
Nickname: Cavaliers
Affiliation: Midwest Athletic Conference
School-Type: Public
2012 Regional Seed: 1 (Region 20)
2012 Regional Tournament: Casstown Miami East (W, 42-7); West Liberty-Salem (W, 41-22); AP #7 Covington (W, 20-0)
State Semifinal: ONG JJH #9 Findlay Liberty-Benton (W, 38-0)
State Championships: 2 (07, 05)
State Semifinal Appearances: 10 (12, 11, 10, 09, 07, 05, 04, 00, 98, 95)
State Final Appearances: 8 (12, 11, 10, 09, 07, 05, 00, 98)
All-Time Tournament Record: 49-15

The Difference Makers:
*QB Austin Bruns, sr.: A three-year starter, Bruns has thrown for 2,893 yards and 33 TDs and rushed for 635 yards and 14 TDs. He’s thrown just three INTs, the last in Week 5. Bruns is the MAC Offensive Player of the Year. Said Otten: “He’s a big strong kid.”
*LB Zach Dickman, sr.: MAC Defensive Player of the Year and three-year starter leads the team with 129 tackles. Dickman missed last year’s state final after getting hurt in the semis.
*WR/DB Caleb Siefring, sr.: First team All-MAC WR & DB leads the team in receptions (48), receiving yards (85) and receiving TDs (15). He also has three INTs.
*WR/DB Josh Huber, sr.: First team All-MAC WR & DB has six receiving TDs and two INTs.
*P/K Kyle Bergman, sr.: First team All-MAC K & P
*OL/LB Jordan Harlamert, sr.: First team All-MAC OL, Second team All-MAC LB; three-year starter
*LB Jordan Chapin, sr.: Team’s leading tackler as so & jr. has battled injuries this season but has still mamnaged 51 tackles and eight TDs.
*DL Alan Kunk, sr.: First team All-MAC DL is tied for team-lead with seven sacks. Kunk missed last year’s state final after getting hurt in the semis.
*DB Brody Hoying, so.: First team All-MAC DB leads the team with five INTs.

The Story: Coldwater is in the state final for the sixth time in eight years…The Cavs have 15 players that earned All-MAC honors…Head coach Chip Otten was the MAC Coach of the Year…Coldwater has 23 seniors. Said Otten: “Those guys have played a lot of football.”…Coldwater has 83 players on roster…The Cavs have been in the playoffs 16 straight years, which is the longest current streak in the state.

Key: Defense. The Cavs have been nothing short of amazing. Through 14 games, Coldwater has two rushing TDs and 83 total points, including just 28 in the first half. The Cavs have tied a school record for shutouts in a season with six and in eight MAC games allowed just 32 points. Three of Coldwater’s four defensive backs were first team All-MAC. Said Otten: “All of our guys are really fit and athletic. They can all run. We’re solid all the way around.” 

Two Cents: It’s time. The Cavaliers have won 17 MAC titles, but this year they won the conference for the first time since 2008. Does that mean they’ll win something else this year too (the state title)? Coldwater can tie its school record for wins in a season and complete the second 15-0 run in school history with a win. The 2005 team (with Ross Homan) was the first. Said Otten: “Excellence is important here. Excellence in sports, in schools and in business. Our county (Mercer) has the lowest unemployment rate in the state because people want to work. It’s an area that strives for excellence.”

Coach’s Quote: “It’s frustrating when you lose (three straight state finals) and part of it is how you lose. Two and three years ago we played Ursuline teams that were outstanding. I’m not sure we could have beaten those guys in 10 tries. Last year, though, was a good hard-nosed battle but it was frustrating because we felt we were more balanced and more evenly matched. Whenever you lose when you thought you had a shot to win it makes it harder. There’s motivation. We don’t want revenge or anything, but they just want to win. They want to end their season with a win and only one team gets to do that. That’s the motivation – to win that 60th game.”


Kirtland (14-0/ONG JJH #2/AP #2)

Head Coach: Tiger LaVerde
Nickname: Hornets
Affiliation: Chagrin Valley Conference
School-Type: Public
2012 Regional Seed: 1 (Region 17)
2012 Regional Tournament: Beverly Fort Frye (W, 49-7); ONG JJH #8/AP #5 Columbiana Crestview (W, 28-14); ONG JJH #4 Youngstown Ursuline (W, 38-37);
State Semifinal: Baltimore Liberty Union (W, 41-7)
State Championships: 1 (12)
State Semifinal Appearances: 2 (12, 11)
State Final Appearances: 2 (12, 11)
All-Time Tournament Record: 13-6

The Difference Makers:
*RB/DB Damon Washington, sr.:
D-I prospect has rushed for 1,863 yards and 32 TDs. Said LaVerde:  “I think he’ll be a really, really good CB at the next level.”
*TE Evan Brettrager, sr.
*QB Scott Eilerman, sr.:
Holds a 4.2 gpa and is an Eagle Scout. Said Laverde: “He’s a very confident leader. Everything you would want in a son.”
*DL Cannon Shroeder, jr.: A starter since freshman year. Said LaVerde: “Really, really good DT.”
*TE/LB Matthew Finkler, so.: Had 21 tackles against Ursuline. Said LaVerde: “Very talented.”
*OL Michael Cymbal, sr.: Carries a 4.0 gpa. Said LaVerde: “Think he’s one of the best centers in the state.”

The Story: The Hornets are in the midst of the best three-year run in school history. How good has it been? 12 of Kirtland’s 13 playoff wins in history have come in the last three years, including its first over Ursuline last week. In that game the Hornets rallied from a 24-0 halftime deficit to set up a rare rematch with Coldwater. Said LaVerde: “I think it’s really neat that two public schools can play back-to-back like this.”

Key: Running. Last year Kirtland ran for 4,600 yards. This year it’s run for over 5,200. Coldwater has allowed two rushing TDs this season. Said LaVerde: “We’re in Northeast Ohio…so we want to run the ball. We’re not going to spread it out with five wides and go shotgun. We’ve got guys up front who want to get off the ball. We take the ground and pound approach and they take pride in it.”

Two Cents: Perfection. The Hornets are riding a 29-game win streak and looking for their second straight 15-0 season. Said LaVerde: “The 29 means nothing to these kids. We don’t even talk about it.”

Coach’s Quote: “I told our kids that we’re a Division V team but I think we can play with a lot of teams that are in bigger divisions. I think both teams are capable of playing with anyone in the state. I know this is a small school game but I think these are two of the better teams (in Ohio).”



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