CANTON: St. Vincent-St. Mary proved beyond any doubt Saturday that it is the top Division III high school football team in Ohio this year.
Spectators have gushed over the speed on the St. V-M team in recent weeks, and for good reason, with an abundance of it on both sides of the ball.
While junior Parris Campbell Jr. flashed his speed Saturday at Fawcett Stadium, junior Newman Williams displayed his strength as they combined to lead St. V-M to a 42-21 victory over Bellevue in the Division III state championship game before a crowd of 9,109.
Campbell rushed for three touchdowns and gained 165 yards on 14 carries. Williams rushed for two touchdowns and also intercepted a pass.
“I have to give Bellevue a heck of a lot of credit, they kept hanging in there,” St. V-M coach Dan Boarman said. “It took us awhile to finally ice this game. They are a fine football team and a well-coached football team.
“I just want to say something about my team, and I want to emphasize the point, team. Every week it seems to be somebody different, or a different part of the offense or defense that takes over and takes control. That has been the beauty of this season. We haven’t had to just depend on one side of the ball or on one person. Today showed that.”
Williams’ first rushing touchdown came on a fake punt when he rumbled 41 yards to make the score 28-14 with 1:05 remaining in the third quarter. He broke four tackles and dragged one defender into the end zone to electrify the crowd and give the Irish (13-2) momentum over the Redmen (13-2).
“Newman made just a tremendous run on the fake punt,” Boarman said. “He ran over that kid at the end to score. That is just being hungry for the goal line.”
Said Williams: “I gotta give credit to the people up front that blocked for me and sprung me open. When I got free, like Coach said, I was hungry for the goal line.”
Williams proceeded to intercept a pass by Redmen senior quarterback Jalen Santoro on the ensuing possession. Five plays later, Williams rushed for a 5-yard touchdown on fourth-and-3 with 9:29 to go in the fourth quarter to make it 35-14.
Bellevue led 7-0 with 4:29 remaining in the first quarter after Santoro tossed a 27-yard touchdown pass to senior Trent Stamm on a flea-flicker that included senior Dalton Jarvis on fourth-and-5.
St. V-M struck 30 seconds later to tie the score at 7-7 when Campbell sprinted down the sideline 47 yards for a touchdown with 3:59 to go in the first quarter.
“It is not just me, it all comes back to my team and my o-line,” Campbell said. “I have to give a shout out to Fresh [senior Fransohn Bickley] on my first touchdown. If he was not there, I probably would not have scored. He held off a defender for the longest time. I thank him for that and my o-line has been amazing all year.”
The Irish took a 14-7 lead with 9:04 to go in the second quarter, when Bickley caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Clayton Uecker.
“This is a great feeling,” said Uecker, who completed 11-of-19 passes for 154 yards. “I have been dreaming about this since I was a little kid. It hasn’t really sunk in yet.”
The Redmen knotted the score at 14-14 with 2:10 to go in the second, when Santoro tossed a 13-yard touchdown pass to Jarvis on fourth-and-4.
Campbell scored on a 1-yard run with 48 seconds to go in the second to give the Irish a 21-14 halftime lead.
Williams’ heroics in the second half put Bellevue in a tough spot, but Santoro connected with senior Derek Smith for a 27-yard touchdown with 8:40 left in the fourth quarter.
Campbell concluded the scoring with a 23-yard touchdown run with 5:56 to go.
Santoro rushed for 53 yards on 32 carries. He completed 15-of-25 passes for 184 yards.
“He was elusive and the best word would be sneaky,” Boarman said. “He is a good running back and a tough kid. You have to be pretty tough to be hit by these guys.”
Irish junior Travonte Junius forced a fumble in the fourth quarter that junior Dante Booker recovered. Freshman Tyrece Speaight intercepted a pass in the second quarter.
Booker had eight solo tackles to lead a defense that includes junior twins Aaron and Anthony Adkins, juniors Corey Whaley, Nathan Bischof and Tyler Moran, seniors Eric Prologo and Mike Pruiett and sophomore Vince Lockett.
“This is the best way we could have ended our season,” senior receiver Jordan Hargrove said. “We are state champs. We were confident, but not cocky, as coach Boarman says.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.