CANTON — Minster’s offense got rolling in the second quarter on Friday and didn’t stop until Jared Huelsman and other players hoisted the Division VII state championship trophy.
After a slow start in the Div. VII state title game, the Wildcats scored two touchdowns in the final five minutes of the first half and ran away in the second to a 32-7 win at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
Huelsman, a senior quarterback, directed Minster’s offense in a big way one last time. Huelsman ran for 221 yards and three touchdowns and completed 12-of-20 passes for 141 yards and one touchdown.
“It’s just the credit to the O-line getting the holes for me to run,” Huelsman said of his performance.
Huelsman was the Midwest Athletic Conference’s offensive player of the year as a junior and had a big season again this year. He finished the season with 2,172 passing yards and 17 touchdowns and 1,838 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns.
Huelsman led two scoring drives at the end of the second quarter that gave Minster a 19-7 halftime lead. With a 7-7 tie, Minster drove 94 yards on 14 plays and scored on a 3-yard run by Huelsman. He completed six passes on the drive and had several big runs, including a 7-yard run on a third-and-one at Minster’s 44-yard line.
After Cuyahoga Heights had a three-and-out, Minster had a nine-play, 83-yard drive that Huelsman capped off with another 3-yard run. Huelsman had seven runs on the drive, including a 30-yard run that moved the ball to Cuyahoga Heights’ 38.
“We were running some option offense where Jared has the ability to do things with the football that not a lot of other quarterbacks can do, and he was running our offense,” Minster coach Geron Stokes said of the drives. “Our offensive line was run-blocking well… It was really a nice job by a lot of people.”
Huelsman’s last touchdown came as time expired in the second quarter. Minster and Cuyahoga Heights called timeouts before the play, then Huelsman ran around the left side of the line and dove into the end zone.
Huelsman also had four tackles on defense.
“Good things happen to great people,” Stokes said. “If you don’t believe that, you’re wrong. This guy’s worked, and all these guys have worked.”
Huelsman added a 9-yard touchdown to cap off Minster’s first drive in the third quarter and boost the lead to 25-7.
Cuyahoga Heights’ offense sputtered as it tried to rally late in the second half. The Redskins had two drives end on interceptions by Isaac Schmiesing. Alex Lehmkuhl also intercepted a pass early in the fourth quarter to end a 16-play drive.
Stokes said Schmiesing’s performance was indicative of the team’s overall improvement after a 3-4 start.
“Isaac Schmiesing was a terrible free safety in the middle of the year,” Stokes said. “He had two picks and a ton of tackles. Good things happen to really good people. Look all over the world; it happens all the time. It’s not an accident or a coincidence that they played their best football at the end of the year. All these guys, this whole group, are really high-quality people.”
Stokes said Huelsman is a true leader and credited his and the rest of the players’ values.
“This group was so easy to coach because of these guys,” Stokes said. “It’s not like a coaching staff trying to force values on kids, it’s kids that believe in the same values you believe in. It’s just an agreement. ‘Okay, this guy believes in the same thing I believe in, let’s go do this thing.’ ”
Minster has made state championship games three out of the last four seasons. The Wildcats won the Div. VI state title in 2014 and lost in the D-VII title game last year.
Minster lost most of its starters off last season’s state runner-up team, and Stokes credited the team’s seniors for stepping up and leading the team this year.
“I thought our competitive level today was awesome,” Stokes said. “That’s a really good football team, and every time they did something well, our kids found a way to put cleats in the ground and fight back. I really do believe that’s a credit to how much they care about each other. They didn’t want to let each other down.”
Schmiesing scored a touchdown on a short run late in the fourth to put the win away.
Minster took a 7-0 lead with 7:07 left in the first quarter on a 44-yard touchdown pass from Huelsman to Austin Brown. The Redskins scored on a 28-yard pass from Ryan Polk to Dylan Drummond to tie the game with 3:36 left.
Cuyahoga Heights had 246 yards of offense. The Redskins had four interceptions and had three drives stall in the red zone.
“Their defense came out and stopped us, which I thought was a key part of the game,” Cuyahoga Heights coach Al Martin said. “They’re a really well-coached football team. Their kids play hard and they’re talented. I’m proud of our guys. We actually moved the ball, but we did not do a very good job once we got down into their territory. … We did not call some good plays down there unfortunately and didn’t put them in position to be successful.”
Minster finished with 396 yards of offense. Schmiesing finished with 37 rushing yards on six carries, while Brown led the team with 92 receiving yards on seven catches. Lehmkuhl caught three passes for 19 yards, and Schmiesing had two catches for 30 yards.
Martin credited Huelsman and Minster’s offensive line for moving the ball against Cuyahoga Heights’ defense.
“That’s a really good offensive line,” Martin said. “Everybody wants to run behind that offensive line. They do a nice job schematically of spreading you out, and then that big offensive line comes in and take it to you, and (Huelskamp) does a great job of being patient and reading his holes, and he does a good job of going forward.”
Jacob Hoying led Minster with nine tackles, while Schmiesing had eight. Alec Huber also had an interception.
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