PARMA: The Catholic school juggernaut that is the Lakewood St. Edward football team ended Stow’s perfect season Saturday night in a Division I state semifinal.
Simply put, St. Edward was bigger, stronger and faster at several positions and used those advantages to defeat Stow 45-7 at Parma’s Byers Field.
“We made some mistakes early that put us behind the eight ball a little bit, and you can’t make those kinds of mistakes against St. Ed,” Stow coach Mark Nori said. “If you do that, you are going to be in trouble.
“We lost the battle of field position early and we never climbed out of it.”
St. Edward (13-1) scored on its first two possessions to lead 10-0 in the first quarter, and Stow (13-1) never caught up to the defending Division I state champions.
St. Edward will play Huber Heights Wayne in a state final at Ohio Stadium in Columbus at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Eagles senior quarterback Jimmy Keefe completed 14-of-16 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns for coach Tom Lombardo, who previously coached at Highland. Senior Cole Gest rushed 12 times for 65 yards and two touchdowns. Keefe and Gest only played in the first half, as the clock ran in the second half because of St. Edward’s 38-0 halftime lead.
Stow’s players kept competing for Nori and his staff, but were outmanned.
“I am extremely proud of them,” Nori said of his players. “They’re gonna hang their heads because they are competitors, but as far as I know, they are the best team to ever walk through the hallways of Stow High School. They are trailblazers as far as I’m concerned because of what they did.”
St. Edward senior Jake Budyka kicked a 43-yard field goal with 7:47 on the clock to make it 3-0. Keefe tossed a 42-yard touchdown pass to senior Carl Jones at 3:09 and Budyka kicked the extra point to make it 10-0. The Eagles ran a fake punt with senior Delmar Hall gaining four yards on a fourth-and-3 to extend the second drive.
The Eagles upped their lead to 17-0 with 10:06 remaining in the second quarter on a 1-yard touchdown run by Gest. The drive covered 75 yards on eight plays, and included a 12-yard penalty on St. Edward and Keefe completing four passes to senior Teddy Gordon for 82 yards.
Stow’s deficit got worse with three more St. Edward scores before the halftime whistle. Gest rushed for a 9-yard touchdown at 4:40, Keefe tossed a 6-yard touchdown pass to senior Matthew Gonzalez at 2:49 and junior Curtis Szelesta rushed for a 6-yard touchdown at 1:41.
Stow cut its deficit to 38-7 with 2:27 to go in the third quarter with a nice drive that culminated with a 9-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Kyle Vantrease to senior Monte Board. Junior Austin Burnham kicked the extra point.
St. Edward tacked on another touchdown in the fourth quarter to end the scoring.
Vantrease completed 9-of-23 passes for 85 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Senior Jayson Gobble gained 42 yards on 21 carries in his final game as a Bulldog.
Stow senior Jakob Madgar gave a solid effort defensively along with junior Andrew Shockling, freshman Adrian Woliver and others.
Stow junior Jared Wright entered as a reserve quarterback in the fourth quarter. His father, Ron Wright, is Hudson’s coach. Wright was in the press box Saturday providing color commentary on the radio with Tom Linder.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or email@example.com. Read the #ABJVarsity high school blog at www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MBeavenABJ.