CANTON, OHIO —
En route to surviving one of the nation's toughest prep football schedules, No. 20 St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio)
relied on a punishing ground game and dominating line play on both sides of the ball. That combination was enough to clear one final hurdle Friday as the Eagles downed Springfield (Ohio)
28-14 in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division I state championship game at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.
The state title is St. Edward's third in five years and sixth in 12. The game was also a rematch of last year's final that St. Edward won 23-13. The 20th-ranked Eagles finish 15-1.
Springfield, which beat Archbishop Moeller in the state semifinals for the second year in a row last week, finishes 13-2.
The Eagles outgained the Wildcats 398-233 in total yards and 296-27 on the ground. Defensively, St. Edward had nine sacks and 11 tackles-for-loss. Springfield had allowed one sack in its last two games.
"We played the toughest schedule in Ohio for sure, if not one of the toughest in the country," St. Edward head coach Tom Lombardo said. "Week in and week out (we faced top tier teams) to prepare us for a game like this."
Unlike last year's final where it faced deficits of 16-0 and 23-7, Springfield opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 1-yard Jayvin Norman
touchdown run. The score followed a failed fourth down by the Eagles at their own 39-yardline. It was the only hiccup St. Edward had in the first half.
Rushing for 170 yards and outgaining Springfield 231-73 in total yards, St. Edward scored 21 unanswered points to close the first half. The back-breaker was a 13-play, 87-yard scoring drive that took 5:58 and finished with a 1-yard touchdown run by Marvin Bell Jr.
with 1:06 to play in the second quarter. Bell ran for 101 of his game-high 170 yards in the first half.
St. Edward quarterback Casey Bullock
threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Kyan Mason
for the Eagles first touchdown and ran in from three yards out for their second.
Springfield closed to within 21-14 in the third quarter on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Bryce Schondelmyer
to Daylen Bradley
that capped an 18-play, 70-yard drive and ate more than 8 minutes off the clock.
Bell notched his second 1-yard touchdown run on the ensuing possession as St. Edward closed the scoring with 8:06 to play.
Springfield's final fourth down play with 4:11 to go came up a yard short.
St. Edward's seasoned defensive line — led by seniors Michael Kilbane
(Northwestern) and Wyatt Gedeon
(Coastal Carolina) — feasted on a young Springfield offensive line that featured three sophomores, a freshman and a senior starter.
Kilbane and Gedeon combined for 6.5 of the Eagles' nine sacks, giving them 39 for the season.
"They've been doing it all year long," Lombardo said. "They went after it. Great defense performance."
Schondelmyer finished 21-of-30 for 206 yards and a touchdown, giving him 48 for the season. Teryon Holt
led Springfield with 11 tackles, while Norman added 10.
led St. Edward with nine tackles. Gedeon and Kilbane added eight and seven, respectively.
St. Edward closed the season with 11 straight wins after suffering its lone loss 31-28 at Massillon Washington in a game in which it lost a fumble in the final minute and missed four field goals. The Eagles beat three-time defending Colorado state champion Cherry Creek (5A finalist), Cincinnati Elder, Archbishop Moeller, St. Ignatius and both Ohio D-II state finalists – Toledo Central Catholic (champion) and Archbishop Hoban (runner-up).
The state title is Lomabrdo's fifth overall. He owns four at St. Edward and one with Mentor Lake Catholic (2001).
"It never gets old," Lombardo said. "The kids worked their butts off for this. I'm just glad to be a part of it."