By Gary R. Rasberry
KENTON -- In his postgame conversation with the gathered media, Coldwater coach John Reed brought up what he thought was the most important moment of the game.
"We won the toss," said the veteran Cavalier mentor, referring to the pregame coin toss. "We were able to defer, they took the ball and we kicked with the win."
Thanks to four Trevor Stromblad kickoffs that went into the end zone, the Cavalier defense kept Clear Fork pinned near its goal line and unable to move the ball.
The same could not be said for Coldwater as the Cavaliers totaled 279 yards of offense while posting a 45-0 shutout over the Colts in the Division IV regional semifinals at Robinson Field in Kenton.
Coldwater (13-0) plays for a regional championship on Saturday in a rematch of last year's regional matchup as the Huron Tigers knocked off Western Buckeye League champions Ottawa-Glandorf ,10-3, at Tiffin to advance to this Saturday's battle at Donnell Stadium in Findlay. Clear Fork ends its season at 8-4. The Cavaliers started the game with ace kicker Trevor Stromblad booting the ball into the end zone. The Colts moved the ball seven yards on three plays and punted, giving Coldwater decent field position at their own 47.
Coldwater moved the ball along on eight plays, with quarterback Steve Borger calling his own number for a 12-yard gain to get to the Colts' five, then running in the final five yards with blocking from Ross Homan to get the opening score just five minutes into the game.
Stromblad then pinned the Colts to their own 15 and the defense forced a three-and-out. This time, the punt only went to the Colts' 42 and was returned to the 33. One play later, Borger found Justin Kahlig for a 33-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-0 after Stromblad's PAT boot.
The next series put the Colts at their 23. This time, Stromblad did the damage on defense, picking off a pass from Nik Weirich and taking it down to the eight-yard line. Two plays later, Homan pounded it in from the four-yard line to make it 21-0 with three minutes left in the opening quarter.
Another kickoff into the end zone, another three-play series and punt for the Colts. This time, Coldwater started from the Clear Fork 37 and scored on four plays as Borger connected with Brady Geier for a 13-yard score as time ran out in the quarter, allowing Coldwater to go up 28-0 after the opening 12 minutes of play.
From there, the Cavalier defense kept the game in hand. It wasn't until 10 minutes left in the half that the Colts earned a first down. When the Colts got into Cavalier terrirory, the series bogged down of big defensive plays, such as sacks by ends Gaston Pleiman and Brian Brunswick.
"We'd stop them, short punt, score. Stop them, short punt ... That really made a big difference," was the description Reed gave for the first half. "I've been there before. What do you do? Take your wind, knowing you might give it up a couple of times. ... The wind was a major factor here tonight, but I don't think it would have changed the outcome of the ballgame.
"Our kids came out here to play. They really came out to play tonight. From the first man to the last man, they all came out to play. They all played hard," continued Reed.
Coldwater scored on its first five series and the only reason the sixth series ended with no score was due to Borger taking a knee to end the first half with his team up 35-0.
In the second half, Reed started rotating the reserves in, but the scoring continued as Tony Harlamert scored on the Cavs' first series of the second half on a two-yard run. Stromblad ended the scoring in the fourth quarter, booting a 23-yard field goal with 10:38 left to go in the game.
The Cavaliers, ironically, chose not to take the ball in the second half, again using the wind to pin Clear Fork deep in its own end. The Colts did move the ball slightly better in the second half but were still hampered as the younger Cavaliers wrapped up the shutout.
"They were worried about the threats from over here," said Reed with a laugh, referring to the upperclassmen hoping for the shutout.
Clear Fork was held to just 57 yards of offense, 46 coming through some last-minute passing from backup quarterback Joe Fraley.
"They ran the ball against everybody. We had them (scouting or on tape) against Wooster, West Holmes and in their playoff game. They ran it against everybody. They just never had to throw the ball. ... When you saw when they had to throw, it just wasn't there," said Reed.
Borger finished with 137 yards on 9-of-11 passing and added 40 yards rushing. Brady Geier had four catches for 52 yards.