COLUMBUS – Savor the moment Lancer Nation: The La Salle football team has won its first state championship.
And the Lancers left absolutely no doubt.
The Lancers completed their memorable season with a 55-20 win over Nordonia in the Division II state final in front of 9,570 at Ohio Stadium Friday night.
“I just feel now La Salle has a name for itself,” La Salle senior defensive lineman Jordan Thompson said. “…I just feel now we have respect.”
La Salle players celebrate 55-20 state championship win over Nordonia Dec. 5 in Columbus
La Salle set a new Division II state final record with 55 points. The previous record was 50 points by Youngstown Cardinal Mooney in 1980.
These past 15 weeks will never be forgotten by the La Salle football program and school community.
“Just really proud of our players and proud of our guys,” La Salle coach Nate Moore said.
At the beginning of this postseason, La Salle won the program’s first football playoff game Nov. 7 and that was just the start of the November and December memories in 2014.
La Salle’s first football team was in 1962, according to La Salle associate athletic director Frank Russo. And now the Lancers will add a state championship trophy to the legacy.
“It’s a huge thing for La Salle,” senior center Tim Roell said. “…It’s a huge win for this school and for this community.”
La Salle never trailed on Friday night at Ohio Stadium. And the Lancers also experienced something common this postseason: A running clock in the second half.
“To play well in all three phases of the game here in Week 15 our last time out is something I think we should be all be proud of,” Moore said.
La Salle junior running back Jeremy Larkin – an Associated Ohio Mr. Football finalist – continued to impress from the backfield on Friday. He rushed for 104 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore running back Jarell White added 66 yards and a touchdown.
La Salle senior defensive back Drew Meister had a team-high eight tackles.
Larkin scored on a 4-yard touchdown run at the 9:19 mark of the first quarter to complete a 6-play, 47-yard drive. Junior Nick Veite added the extra point and the Lancers led 7-0.
“That was a huge momentum builder right from the start,” Moore said.
Nordonia then added a field goal to close the gap to 7-3 a little more than five minutes later.
But, Larkin struck again. This time, he made a nifty cut to elude a defender and ran diagonally to the corner of the end zone for a 45-yard touchdown run to help make it 14-3.
The touchdown run was vintage Larkin as he went over 2,500 yards for the season in the first half.
Nordonia added a field goal near the end of the first quarter to close the gap to 14-6 at the end of the first quarter.
La Salle junior quarterback Nick Watson scored on a 9-yard touchdown and Veite added the extra point to give the Lancers a 21-6 lead with 7:49 left in the second quarter.
Nordonia scored on an 11-yard touchdown reception by Tye Evans to help close the gap to 21-13.
But the Lancers owned the final minute of the second quarter. Sophomore Jarell White scored on a 3-yard touchdown to make it 27-13 with 39 seconds left.
Then senior defensive back Avery Larkin scored on a 44-yard interception return for a touchdown with 12 seconds left in the half to help make it 34-13. Avery Larkin and Jeremy Larkin are cousins.
La Salle added two additional scores in the third quarter. Senior John Junker blocked a punt and ran it back 15 yards for a touchdown to help make it 41-13. Junker also recovered a fumble in the quarter.
La Salle senior Phil Anderson caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from Watson to help make it 48-13 with 7:32 left in the third quarter after Veite added the extra point. The running clock (deficit of 30 or more points in the second half) started after the kickoff.
Senior quarterback Eric Greene scored on a 4-yard touchdown run and Veite added the extra point to give the Lancers a 55-13 lead with 5:19 left.
Nordonia added a late touchdown when senior Alex Alders caught a 20-yard touchdown pass to help make it 55-20 with 2:49 left.
The Lancers averaged 47.5 points this postseason entering Friday night.
The Division II state final was the third of three games Friday in Columbus. There will be three games on Saturday at Ohio Stadium too.
La Salle sold over 3,000 presale tickets as of Friday morning. Ponchos were seen everywhere on the La Salle side of the stadium as rain was consistent most of the day.
The state football finals were at Ohio Stadium for the first time since 1989.
La Salle was the first area team to play for a state championship at Ohio Stadium since Moeller was the Division I state runner-up in 1989.
Entering Friday’s game, Princeton was the most recent area school to win a state football title at Ohio Stadium when the Vikings won the 1987 Division I state championship.
After hosting the state championship games throughout the 1980s, natural grass was installed in Ohio Stadium in 1990 and the Ohio High School Athletic Association was asked to move the state finals to another location.
Stark County had been the host of the state football finals for the past 24 years prior to this season. The state finals will return to Ohio Stadium for 2015 and nothing has been decided regarding the future venue beyond that.
La Salle 14-20-14-7–55
L-Jeremy Larkin 4 run (Veite kick)
N-FG Embrescia 23
L-Jeremy Larkin 45 run (Veite kick)
N-FG Embrescia 30
L-Watson 9 run (Veite kick)
N-Evans 11 pass from Murray (Embrescia kick)
L-White 3 run (kick failed)
L-Avery Larkin 44 interception return (Veite kick)
L-Junker 15 blocked punt return (Veite kick)
L-Anderson 23 pass from Watson (Veite kick)
L-Greene 4 run (Veite kick)
N-Alders 26 pass from Murray (Embrescia kick)
Records: N 14-1, L 14-1