MASSILLON — Finally.
In an instant classic high school football game, Coldwater defeated Kirtland 10-9 to win the Division V state championship at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. It was the third state championship for the Cavaliers (2005 and 2007).
“I can’t put it in words,” quarterback Austin Bruns said. “I’m always going to remember this.”
Bruns, All-Ohio Co-Offensive Player of the Year, completed 20 of 28 passes for 233 yards and one score. He also carried the ball 23 times for 112 yards.
After bringing home the runner-up trophy the last three seasons, Coldwater was able to win the 60th game the seniors were a part.
“Obviously for us it’s a great football game,” Coldwater coach Chip Otten said. “To be involved in 60 games and to win 17 playoff games … and this year we won the last game.”
“We’ll always be the first class to play 60 games,” senior All-Ohio Co-Defensive Player of the Year Zach Dickman said. “It feels amazing.”
Sophomore Brody Hoying’s interception with 1:05 to play sealed the game for the Cavaliers.
It is appropriate the defense sealed the championship game as both defenses shined. Kirtland was held to 199 yards, 282 below its season average. Coldwater’s offense garnered 319 yards, 50 below it’s average. The nine points allowed was the third highest allowed by Coldwater all season.
“I thought our defense played outstanding,” Kirtland coach Tiger LaVerde said. “We would have liked to move the ball a little better. I’ve got to put it on me, I called a crappy game.”
Coldwater got on the board first. After forcing Kirtland to punt, the Cavaliers drove 59 yards on five plays. The big play on the drive was Bruns’ 28 yard run on second and 4 that took the ball to the 10-yard line. Two plays later, Bruns connected with Mitch Schoenherr for seven yards. Schoenherr twisted and dove for the score. Kyle Bergman’s extra point made it 7-0 with 1:54 left in the quarter.
The Cavaliers got the break of the game on Kirtland’s next drive. On fourth and 1, the Hornets’ 210-pound running back Adam Hess fought for the first down, but Coldwater sophomore Brody Hoying put his helmet on the ball and knocked it loss. Schoenherr recovered for Coldwater.
Coldwater, however, gave it right back. On fourth down, Cavalier punter Kyle Bergman bobbled the snap and Kirtland’s Ryan Loncar jumped on the opportunity and made the Cavaliers pay. Kirtland got its first score with 2:20 left in the half. It took seven plays for the Hornets to cover 19 yards, but senior quarterback Scott Eilerman found tight end Matthew Finkler from four yards out on fourth and goal. It was Eilerman’s first pass completion of the day. Kyle Adams’ PAT tied the score at 7-7.
Eilerman finished the game four of 11 for 25 yards, with one interception and one score.
Coldwater answered and took the lead on the last play of the first half. An 11-play, 67-yard drive in 2:14 culminated in redemption for Bergman as the senior drilled a 28-yard field goal to give Coldwater a 10-7 halftime lead.
“He dropped the snap and dropped the ball and tried to throw,” Otten said of Bergman’s punt. “He’s a football player. That’s where we say let it go and forget about it. Hopefully that’s a learning lesson.”
The Hornets defense and special teams got the Hornets within one point. After a Kirtland punt died at the 1 yard line, Hoying caught a pass in the flat and was dropped in the end zone by Sam Skiljan to make the score 10-9 with 6:17 left in the game.
With all the momentum, the Hornets looked to take the lead. Linebacker Jordan Chapin stuffed All-Ohio Co-Offensive Player of the Year Damon Washington on third and 11 before lineman Andrew Schwieterman knocked down a pass to give Coldwater the ball back with 4:18.
Washington finished the game with 11 carries for 43 yards for a 3.5 yard per carry average. The all-stater averaged more than 13 yards per carry entering the game.
“Our defense,” Otten said, “they are athletic and can run and make plays. Because we have good balance with our conerbacks and safety, you can do all sorts of things up front.”
All-state wide receiver Caleb Siefring finished the game with six catches for 37 yards.
“It’s indescribable,” Siefring said. “It’s the neatest feeling in the world.”
NOTES: Instead of spending the night on Friday in Stark County, the Cavaliers drove up early on Saturday morning leaving at 7 a.m. The team stopped and did a walk through and stopped again and ate breakfast in Wooster. The team arrived at the stadium at 12:30 p.m.
“We just felt like sleeping in our own bed and driving up will better,” Otten said. “We’ll drive a while and get a walk through at a rest area. Drive a few hours and eat and get there. We are going to get on the bus and make it a business-like atmosphere. It will eliminate all of the dead time.”
— Once again the Cavaliers wore their yellow socks in support of senior Kyle Boeckman’s father, Ty, who is battling cancer. Coldwater has worn the socks since the fifth game of the season against Minster and has worn the dyed white socks ever since.
— Play 60 was one of the themes for the Cavaliers this season. With their contest against Kirtland in the championship game, Coldwater’s seniors participated in 60 high school football games including four straight state championship games. It is the first time in state history that this has been accomplished.
It was also the 50th playoff win in Coldwater football history.
— The attendance was 6,886.
— Former Cleveland Brown and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Leroy Kelley presented the game ball before the kickoff of the contest and the commemorative game ball after the contest.