LIMA — Watching Saturday’s Division VII regional championship game, it’s hard to imagine there was a time when Delphos St. John’s was 2-4.
But seven weeks later, the Blue Jays are headed back to the state semifinals for the 13th time.
Delphos St. John’s dismantled Arlington 33-0 at Lima Senior on Saturday in the regional finals. The Blue Jays most likely will take on Midwest Athletic Conference foe Marion Local in the state semifinals next Saturday at a site to be determined.
The Blue Jays improved to 9-4 with the win while Arlington finishes the season 9-4.
“Going to state, there’s not a better feeling,” Delphos St. John’s senior tailback Tyler Jettinghoff said. “Starting 2-4 was really hard for us, but we bounced back. We’ve been really resilient.”
There certainly wasn’t anything tricky about the Blue Jays’ game plan.
On offense, pound the football. On defense, stop Arlington junior running back Austin Rettig, who ran for 291 yards and seven touchdowns a week ago in a 54-14 win over Hicksville.
The Blue Jays executed both game plans to perfection. The St. John’s running trio of Jettinghoff, quarterback Nick Martz and fullback Luke MacLennan combined for 344 rushing yards and each had a hand in every score.
“Offensively, we didn’t do a whole lot fancy,” Delphos St. John’s coach Todd Schulte said. “That’s who we are, we run the plays we’re good at. Getting up 13-0 was huge, it’s kind of the reverse of what we didn’t do last week.”
Martz started the scoring with a 63-yard touchdown run at the 10:16 mark of the first quarter. Then, with 20 seconds remaining in the quarter, Martz hit MacLennan for a 30-yard touchdown pass.
DSJ went up 20-0 with 2:25 to go in the second quarter when Jettinghoff capped off a nine-play, 80-yard drive with a 6-yard touchdown run.
Jettinghoff finished with 161 rushing yards on 26 carries and scored twice, his other TD coming early in the fourth quarter on a 9-yard pass from Martz. Martz tallied 76 rushing yards on four carries with a score and passed for 38 yards with two touchdowns.
To go with his touchdown reception, MacLennan had 107 yards rushing on six carries, with a touchdown run of 49 yards at the 11:34 mark of the fourth quarter to end the scoring.
“The offensive line did great,” said Jettinghoff, who also had an interception. “I trust them so much and they make the holes. Our line is really good at pushing bigger guys back.”
Meanwhile, the Delphos St. John’s defense was a brick wall. By halftime, Retting had just 5 yards rushing and Arlington mustered only 72 yards in the half. The Red Devils’ lone decent drive came in the second quarter when they pushed their way to the 17-yard line before missing a field goal.
“Other than a few plays at the end, Retting didn’t have a lot of room,” Schulte said. “I thought our kids up front played well. Our No. 1 goal was to come in and make sure Rettig wasn’t going to be running the ball all over us. And I thought we accomplished that.”
Rettig finished with 64 yards rushing on 16 carries, but a lot of that came after the game was out of reach. Arlington finished with 207 total yards. Arlington quarterback Aaron Reindel had 109 passing yards and 29 rushing yards.
“We saw a few things we didn’t see on film, but our kids were able to adjust to it, execute and have a good game again,” Schulte said. “I said at the beginning of the week, the only way for us to win was to win up front, and we did that on both sides of the ball.”
The victory sets up a rematch with Marion Local, which won the past two Division VI state titles. In Week 4 of the regular season, the Flyers beat DSJ 28-14.
“We play them every year and it’s always a good game,” Jettinghoff said. “We know what to expect and we’ll be prepared.”