St. Vincent-St. Mary football coach Dan Boarman held his hands flat and moved them across his face.
His motion provided a description of his players’ mindsets as St. V-M (13-0) prepares to play Columbus Marion-Franklin (12-1) in a Division III state semifinal at 7:30 p.m. today at New Philadelphia’s Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium.
“We are even keel,” Boarman said. “We practice the same. We don’t change anything here. … Emotionally, we have been the same. The nice thing is these kids have been there. They understand what it takes to be here. Getting all hyped and talking about state semifinals or regional finals or state championships doesn’t get you anywhere. We have a job to do and we have to get better at it and perfect our responsibilities and be the best football players we can be.”
A victory would propel the Fighting Irish into the state championship game for the second year in a row. St. V-M won the Division III state title last year and is seeking to do it again with Ohio State University recruits Dante Booker Jr. and Parris Campbell Jr. leading the charge from their linebacker and running back spots, respectively.
Marion-Franklin is poised to continue its season under coach Brian Haffele. The Red Devils have won 10 Columbus City League South championships in a row and have made the playoffs all 10 times.
Quarterback Justin Tyler leads the Marion-Franklin offense, which includes running backs Shannon Royster, Landon Yeartie, Jhulyis Monroe and Willie Barns.
The Red Devils defense features linebackers Barns and David Wellborn, cornerback Omar Alfred and linemen Austin Dent and Timothy Jeffers.
“They are a very big football team,” Boarman said. “Much bigger than us, and in fact much bigger than Hubbard of last week. They are physical and they have some athleticism. They seem to run a lot of kids in the backfield. They run a multiple offense with a quarterback who is a nice runner and a decent thrower. Defensively, they are going to come after us. Their base defense is a 3-5.”
St. V-M’s defense has Booker, senior Newman Williams and junior Vince Lockett roaming at linebacker positions. Seniors Travonte Junius, Aaron Adkins and Tony Adkins continue to make an impact as defensive linemen with junior Dre’k Brumley.
St. V-M is making its 18th playoff appearance since the postseason started in 1972. The Irish won state titles in 1972, 1981, 1982, 1988 and 2012.
“I am really thankful for all the guys here on this team,” Campbell said. “Our goal is to go out with a bang and make this a great season. So far, it has been a good season.”
Campbell is a key piece to an offense that has scored more than 25 points in every game and includes senior quarterback Aaron Bushner and lineman Derek Whiddon.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at https://ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.