By Gary R. Rasberry
FINDLAY -- Most football coaches suggest that a quarterback is only as good as the offensive line in front of him.
Considering what Steve Borger did on Saturday night, Coldwater must have a pretty good offensive line.
Borger received plenty of time to throw and passed for over 300 yards and three touchdowns as the Cavaliers captured the Division IV Region 14 title with a 28-0 shutout of Huron at Donnell Stadium in Findlay.
The Cavaliers (13-0) will play for a berth in the state finals on Saturday against the Lemon-Monroe Hornets at Welcome Stadium in Dayton. The 12-1 Hornets defeated Valley View, 35-21, on Saturday to win the Region 16 championship.
Once again, the Cavaliers dominated on both sides of the ball to get the shutout win. The Coldwater defense stymied a potent Tiger offense, holding Huron to just 127 yards of offense (28 via the passing game) and the Cavaliers have yet to allow a score in the postseason. The only score for a Cavalier opponent came via an interception in the playoff opener with Elyria Catholic. Offensively, Borger was able to pick apart the Tiger secondary. After an uncharacteristic start when he missed on his first four passes, Borger came up strong, completing nine of his next 11 passes in the first half, two going for touchdowns, as Borger had 214 yards of passing in the first half alone.
The success came down to perfect protection from his offensive line -- center Ryan Hoyng, guards Tylor Muhlenkamp and Adam Schroyer and tackles Josh Pax and Paul Mathewson. The line, along with Ross Homan and Doug Kahlig blocking out of the backfield, allowed Borger room to move and time to throw. Borger was not sacked on the night and the only negative yards he picked up rushing came when he took a knee to end the first half.
"The offensive line has come a long way all season," said Borger. "I had all the time in the world. The only time I was touched is when I held the ball for too long. They did a great job tonight."
"I thought we did a good job of pass blocking," said Coldwater coach John Reed. "Steve Borger keeps his composure as well as any high school quarterback I have ever seen play the game at any level."
The Tigers were able to keep the Cavaliers scoreless in the first quarter, a contrast from the game last week where the Cavaliers led Clear Fork 28-0 at the end of the first.
But when the Cavaliers did score, they did so with a vengeance.
After Nick Basting was picked off for the second time of the night when Brady Geier timed a pass perfectly, Borger went to work. Mixing in passing with the running of Homan, the Cavaliers moved from their own 18 quickly upfield. On the drive, Borger hit five receivers, with the fifth snag going to Justin Kahlig, who ran in the final nine yards with 10:39 left in the first half to put Coldwater up for good. Borger was 5-of-6 for 66 yards on the drive.
The Cavalier defense held tough and stopped the Tigers on their next drive. The punt went back to the 15 of the Cavaliers, but a block to the back call put Coldwater on its own eight for the next drive.
Borger ran for six yards and Homan went up the middle for one to set up third-and-three from the 15. Borger looked up the sidelines, fired a pass to Brady Geier and Huron's Trevor Greenawalt appeared to tip the pass away, instead, it went right into the arms of Geier, who stayed inbounds and turned on the jets for an 85-yard touchdown play that appeared to take the wind out of Huron's sails.
Despite the beauty of the final outcome of the play, Borger admitted it was a bad pass.
"It was a horrible pass on my part," said Borger. "I threw it a couple of yards behind Brady and I just got lucky it went through a couple hands and Brady came down with it. It was good concentration on (Geier's) part to go and get it. It was a big-time relief."
Coldwater rounded out the scoring in the first half with a Homan one-yard run. Borger got his third scoring pass of the night in the fourth quarter, finding Brady Geier open again for a nine-yard strike to round out the scoring.
Reed had high praise for his two-year starting quarterback.
"He's one of those kids you wouldn't want to play in pool. You wouldn't want to race him at swimming," said Reed. "He's going to find a way to beat you."
Both Geiers, Brady and Ryan, gave headaches to Basting on the night. The Huron quarterback -- a 1,500-yard passer coming into the game -- completed just three of his 14 pass attempts for 28 yards and three interceptions. Brady Geier picked off two passes to reach the 10-interception mark of the season. Ryan Geier snagged the other pick.
"I was really proud of the pressure we put on," said Reed. "Brady, Trevor (Stromblad) and Justin (the starting defensive backfield) are just excellent defensive backs. They're growing in confidence all the time. When you're not afraid of getting beat back there, you can get pretty good."
Greenawalt, the first Huron runner to rush for 1,000 yards since the mid 1980s, carried 19 times for 48 yards.
"I just can't believe we kept holding up and holding up to their physical size," said Reed, a reference to Huron's line averaging well over 250 pounds. "I was really fearful they might be able to wear us down as it went along. I thought (Huron) played hard all four quarters, particularly up front, but our kids were able to hold up to them."
"We got beat by a very good football team, which is obvious," said Huron coach Tony Legando. "They're such a complete team. Their weapons are certainly great athletes."
Brady Geier finished with seven catches for 182 yards to go with his two interceptions on defense. Homan rushed for 49 yards and grabbed five receptions for 61 yards.