The Buchtel offense wasn’t able to do a whole lot against Firestone, but when you have a strong defense and special teams, a potent attack isn’t always necessary.
Such was the case Friday night at InfoCision Stadium, where the Griffins beat the Falcons 34-0 to claim their third consecutive City Series championship.
The Griffins can thank senior Jarrod Wilson, a Michigan recruit who probably played his best game of the season. He influenced all facets of the game.
Wilson created the Griffins’ first turnover on the Falcons’ first drive, intercepting a pass on Buchtel’s 14 to get his team out of a jam.
He also helped to set up his team’s first score. Firestone faced a fourth-and-10 from its own 10-yard line and was punting. Three Griffins rushed in on the Falcons’ punter, and Wilson blocked it setting up the Griffins at the 6-yard line. It only took one play for Buchtel running back Darren McGinnis to run through a chasm of a hole that opened on his line’s right side to take it into the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
Wilson was not finished.
During one of the Buchtel offense’s best efforts of the game, an eight-play, 62-yard drive, they faced a third-and-6 from the Firestone 10-yard line. Their quarterback, Chris Davis, dropped back. The Falcons rush forced him to scramble to his left, but he found Wilson in the middle of the end zone for the score.
“He’s special. He deserves everything that’s positive that happens to him,” Buchtel coach Ricky Powers said of Wilson. “He’s going to Michigan. Need I say anything else?”
Wilson said it was important for him to leave a legacy at Buchtel.
“After the loss last week, I just realized that our playoff opportunities are very slim and this may be my last game, so I came out and gave it my all,” he said.
Despite those huge plays, Wilson had plenty of help.
Offensively, it came in the person of McGinnis, who rushed for 183 yards on 28 carries and a touchdown to go with a 29-yard touchdown reception. McGinnis transferred from Firestone last season.
“It’s big. It’s the first championship I’ve won, so it’s real big,” McGinnis said.
A few weeks ago, Falcons coach Tim Flossie said he wanted to play the Griffins for the title. He got his wish.
Defensively, the Griffins gave the Falcons no room to breathe, holding them to 120 total yards and sacking their quarterbacks six times. They also picked off two passes, including one that was returned for a touchdown but was called back after a penalty.
And, yes, special teams got into the act as well as the Griffins blocked two attempted Falcons punts.
Had the tension in the air for the game been flammable, InfoCision would have been blown off its foundation. Fans for Buchtel got into the act as the game neared its conclusion, shouting “Flossie! Flossie! Flossie!” The Falcons coach accused Powers of recruiting his players during a flap involving four transfers last year.
Both teams were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, and players had to be separated as the customary post-game handshake dissolved into some pushing and shoving. To avoid further confrontation, Powers had his team move to their locker room and the Falcons did the same.
“The way you coach your kids is the way they’re going to present themselves. I don’t blame those kids from Firestone,” Powers said. “I think those kids have just been doing what they were coached to do.
“These kids are bigger than this game to me. I want these kids to learn respect. No one thinks they can learn respect because of where they are from. I want them to see a different way of doing things.”
George M. Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohiomm.com/blogs/varsity_letters/. Also on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ABJ_Varsity. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.