Newark Catholic coach Bill Franks had a feeling his team might play a high-scoring game against Danville.
As it turned out, NC beat Danville 48-46 in a Division VI regional final Friday. The 94 points mark the highest-scoring playoff game for NC during its illustrious history.
“I said, ‘Don’t be surprised if it comes down a shootout; it’s high school football,'” Franks said.
“Danville was the most prolific two-point team we’ve seen. We scored one more touchdown than them, and it still came down to two points.”
NC plays Mogadore at 7:30 p.m. Friday at New Philadelphia’s Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium in a state semifinal. NC won the perennial powers’ first four postseason meetings. Mogadore has won the past three.
NC only trailed Danville 8-6 late in the first quarter. The Green Wave had multiple double-digit leads at 20-8, 26-16 and 40-24. Danville’s five straight converted 2-point conversions kept the Blue Devils in it, eventually tying the game at 40-40 midway through the fourth quarter.
Anthony Wing scored with 1:53 left for NC, and quarterback Chayce Crouch scored on a run to give the Green Wave the 2-point conversion. This time, Danville could not match the eight.
“Danville is used to scoring a lot of points,” Crouch said. “It came down to a battle of who was in better shape, and we push so hard in practice, we’re usually in better shape than just about any team.”
NC does not have a large senior class, but it has been a productive one.
Kevin Bourne recently was honored as the Central District Defensive Player of the Year for his all-around play. Spencer Magers and Brian Schumaker have provided a steady hand for a defensive front seven that had to be rebuilt.
The senior leadership is unbelievable,” Wing said. “They push us to our limit. They have actually brought us closer together than I ever thought we would be.”
Those seniors now could join a special fraternity with two more victories.
“It has been special because I have been with all of these kids since kindergarten,” Bourne said. “They are all like brothers to me.”
Johnstown goes down fighting
Down 17-0 in the first quarter and 24-7 at halftime, Johnstown did not pack it in against high-powered St. Clairsville.
The Red Devils, who were averaging 50 points per game, were as good as advertised. Their previous season low in points was 41. The Johnnies played a two-deep zone with an extra defensive back in the first quarter, but quickly switched back to their base defense, which calls for a lot of blitzing.
The Red Devils made two late big plays to secure a 37-29 victory in the Division IV regional finals.
“This was our first four-quarter, grind-it-out victory all year,” St. Clairsville coach Brett McLean said. “This is the first time all year we’ve gone four quarters with somebody,”
The Johnnies cut the lead to 24-21 with 7:54 left before the Red Devils scored two quick touchdowns. Quarterback Tyler Thompson scored his fourth touchdown of the game with 13 seconds left.
“Probably one of the biggest things is the kids believe in themselves and they believe in each other,” Johnstown coach Mike Carter said. “They are willing to go out and play as hard as they can for one another, and that puts together good seasons.”