Saturday, December 3rd, 2011
By Gary R. Rasberry
Another runners-up finish for Coldwater
Division V Football State Championship Game
MASSILLON - It wasn't the scoring onslaught that Youngstown Ursuline brandished the last two years but the Coldwater Cavaliers felt the brunt of another dominant performance from an opponent in a state championship game.
Kirtland featured a bruising rushing attack to knock off Coldwater 28-7 in the Division V state championship game on Friday afternoon at Massillon's Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
It's the first state championship for Kirtland, which completes a perfect season with a 15-0 record. The Cavaliers bring home the state runner-up trophy for a third straight season - and fifth overall since 1998 - and finish the season at 11-4.
"Good hard-nosed football game," said Coldwater's head coach Chip Otten. "They did what they do and that was the difference. They were able to control the clock and control the ball. They didn't have any turnovers. When you can control the ball that well, they did what they wanted to do offensively."
"The first-team defense has given up 15 points all year. That's incredible," said Hornets' head coach Tiger LaVerde. "We have played against good competition the past five weeks and we had good competition in the regular season. It's impressive. They impress me.
"(Coldwater) is a potent offense, and I think we did a good job keeping them off the field."
Kirtland held the ball for 30 minutes and 28 seconds in the contest, gaining 410 of the 421 yards on the ground through the combination of All-Ohio honorees Christian Hauber and Damon Washington.
The Hornets established their strong running game from the get-go with a steady diet of Hauber out of a double tight end I-formation. Hauber carried the ball eight times on the opening drive for 33 yards, including the final six yards to give Kirtland a 7-0 lead after a drive that took 6 1/2 minutes off the clock.
Coldwater came out firing in an attempt to answer Kirtland's opening score. The Cavaliers' quarterback Austin Bruns hit his first three passes to Aaron Mestemaker and ran for 24 yards to get the ball to the Hornets' 30-yard line. Kirtland's defense held tough from there and Bruns' fourth-down pass attempt sailed over Caleb Siefring's head in the end zone to end the drive.
Both teams missed chances to score on their next drives. Kirtland All-Ohio kicker Jared Lyon tried to convert a high snap into a pass that Siefring batted down. Coldwater fell an inch short on a fourth-and-one run by Jordan Chapin on the Hornets' 38-yard line for a turnover on downs.
The Hornets closed out the first half with another long drive. Kirtland lost Hauber briefly to an ankle injury after a first-down run, but Washington, a 1,000-yard rusher, got the final seven yards of the drive for a touchdown to make it 14-0 at halftime.
"We didn't get as many chances as we would have liked on offense," said Otten. "Early in the first half, we thought we were moving the ball pretty decent, just didn't get a few opportunities early to get a touchdown."
The Cavaliers' offense finally put a scoring drive together late in the third quarter. Coldwater drove 80 yards on six plays and Bruns capped the drive with a Superman dive into the end zone to cut the Cavs' deficit to 14-7 with 28 seconds left in the third quarter.
Trailing by just seven points, the Cavaliers' defense had to slow down the Hornets, who were content on running the ball to keep the clock rolling. Hauber helped the Hornets push their lead back to 14 points. The Air Force Academy bound senior carried the ball five times on the ensuing drive, including a 39-yard run that advanced the ball to the Cavs' 10. Two plays later, Hauber scored from five yards out to put the Hornets on top 21-7 with 8:49 to play in the game.
"It was painful, but it wasn't bad," said Hauber of the left ankle tweak. "I got taped and knew I would be ready to go."
"(Coldwater) had some momentum, and in the fourth quarter they would have the wind at their backs," said LaVerde of the score to go up 14. "We started on the 20. With the holding penalty on our offense, first-and-20 is tough because we'd like to get 3-4 yards at a time. Christian popped a big run, the line did a nice job and we took it in from there."
The Cavaliers were determined to stay alive, though, as Bruns hit four straight passes, then escaped from a sack attempt for a 21-yard run to the Hornets' 12. Siefring then dropped a sure touchdown pass in the end zone before Bruns' fourth-and-10 pass to Siefring fell incomplete giving the Hornets the ball with 4:39 to play in the game.
Washington added an insurance score with an 81-yard TD run. The Cavaliers' day was capped off as Bruns tried another Superman leap for a score but lost the ball in mid-air with Kirtland's Nick Dhondt recovering the ball for a touchback. The Hornets then lined up in the victory formation and ran out the final 1:57 of the game.
Hauber finished the game with 196 rushing yards on 30 carries, 112 yards coming after getting re-taped for the second half.
"I'm not impressed because I've seen it every day for four years," said LaVerde of Hauber's effort. "He's been banged up and hasn't missed a game. He's been playing varsity ball for four years. We're going to miss him."
"We tried a lot of things to slow him down," said senior defensive end Mark Brunet of the 6-1, 218-pound Hauber. "Different defenses, tried to get everyone to run to the ball and wrap him up."
Washington added 149 rushing yards on 18 carries. Quarterback Scott Eilerman almost matched his season rushing total with 62 yards on eight carries.
Bruns completed 18-of-34 passes for 249 yards through the air while Mestemaker caught eight passes for 94 yards. Alex Stammen added 53 yards on five catches while Siefring managed just one catch for seven yards.
"Austin did a good job of scrambling around when he needed to," said Otten of his junior quarterback, who also rushed for 64 yards. "When we had (the ball), we missed a couple early. I feel terrible for Caleb, he hasn't dropped a pass all year."
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