Weather conditions that included temperatures falling into the low 30s, a brisk wind close to 20 mph and snow flurries are not conducive for a productive passing game.
It, however, did not seem to faze Newark Catholic on Friday. The Green Wave’s balanced offense continued to hum as it has throughout the postseason. The Green Wave passed for 186 yards and rushed for 155 more in a 38-21 victory against Mogadore in a Division VI state semifinal in New Philadelphia.
“We were truly looking at our guys before the game, and most of them didn’t even have sweatshirts on,” NC coach Bill Franks said. “I just said, ‘Hey, are you sure you are going to be OK? We need to be warm enough to play.’ They said, ‘Coach, we are fine.’ These are hearty kids.”
NC plays defending state champion Maria Stein Marion Local in the state final at 11 a.m. Friday at Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. While the Green Wave beat the top-ranked Wildcats, Marion Local fended off No. 2 McComb 34-28 in three overtimes.
Throughout the regular season, NC usually had either the run or the pass, but the Green Wave did not always have both. That has changed during the postseason. NC has run for 158 and 155 yards the past two weeks. Quarterback Chayce Crouch has thrown for 206, 142 and 186 yards the past three weeks.
“Chayce played a really good game,” said receiver Mitch Cox, who had a team-high five receptions. “He has the whole season, but I think everything is starting to come together. It is a really good time to peak as a team. We are feeling confident in ourselves.”
Crouch only has thrown one interception in 65 passing attempts during the postseason. He also has been a weapon on called runs, gaining 40 yards against Danville and a team-high 50 against Mogadore. He has four rushing scores in three games.
“He is a big boy with 220 pounds behind the ball,” Cox said. “I am glad he is putting his head down and taking charge. That is good stuff.”
On the other end of Crouch’s passes has been a solid, if not spectacular, receiving corps. NC has used at least five different receivers in every postseason game.
Kevin Bourne has a team-high 32 catches in 2012, followed by Cox’s 28 and Ryan Fitzgerald’s 26. Aaron Jurden has bumped his total to 16 with a strong second season.
NC is 8-5 in state finals. Marion Local is 5-1, with all of its appearances coming since 2000. The teams’ only prior meeting was Marion Local’s 21-14 victory in a state semifinal in 2003.