As we inch closer to Saturday afternoon’s OHSAA Div. V state final football clash between the Orrville Red Riders (12-2) and Johnstown-Monroe Johnnies (13-1) at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, the unranked Red Riders and fourth-ranked Johnnies have a few things to think about.
Thoughts on Orrville’s mind
Having already dispatched Tuslaw, Gilmour Academy, Manchester and Liberty Center this postseason, teams that achieved playoff caliber success by running the football this season, Orrville will once again face another run-heavy offense.
The big difference this time for the Riders is Johnstown-Monroe not only features a talented offense, but also the Johnnies have a very stingy defense. On offense OPSWA All-Ohio First Team running back and All-Central District Offensive Player of the Year Bryce Barasch (Sr, 5′ 8″, 160) leads the attack and is surrounded by All-Ohio Second Team quarterback Caden Calhoun (Sr, 5′ 8″, 150) and lineman Will Lewis (Sr, 6′ 3″, 255), who have helped the Johnnies average 36 points per game this season. Obviously Barasch is a talented back who can handle the rock, but Calhoun under center is a bit of a different wrinkle than Orrville has seen the past month. The Red Rider defensive backfield will need to be on their toes.
Orrville’s defensive front four led by All-Ohio Special Mention Burl Pumphrey (Sr, 6′ 2″, 240) has flat out played well the past six weeks since getting blown out by Manchester in week eight. The Rider D stopped Manchester’s talented Ethan Wright and Gilmour Academy’s Div. V Offensive Player of the Year tailback C.J. Charleston two of the last three games. All-Ohio Second Team linebacker Ben Summers leads Orrville in tackles for the season, All-Ohio First Team defensive back Jason Suppan leads the team in interceptions and Jake Phillips, Ben Amstutz, Dustin Pumphrey and Marquael Parks have made many big plays for the red and white defense this season.
As impressive as J-M’s offense has been this post-season, the Johnnies also have a stout defensive unit, led by All-Ohio First Team linebacker Kaden Davis (Sr, 6′ 0″, 205), who is able to freely prowl the field with thanks to two giants on the line in front of him: All-Ohio Special Mention linemen Stew Davis (Jr, 6′ 4″, 225) and Jake Lusk (So, 6′ 3″, 190). They have choked the line of scrimmage, limiting playoff opponents to dismal rushing performances and keeping teams off the score board by allowing just a tad over 10 points per game. The Johnnies will be by far the biggest and most talented defensive front Orrville has seen this season. The Rider offensive line will need to be patient and disciplined. The Red Riders also need to protect the football and prevent giving the Johnnies extra possessions.
Thoughts on Johnstown-Monroe’s mind
What to do about the do-it-all Swiss army knife that is Parks (So, 5′ 9″, 155)? The All-Ohio First Team running back is putting the cap stone on a historic season in Canton. As opposing coaches have often said in their post-game commentaries, Parks helps everyone else around him be great because teams have to concentrate so much on containing him. As other schools have discovered, Orrville’s offense has talent that often gets overshadowed by Parks’ gaudy statistics. The Red Riders’ season scoring total now stands at a school record 617 points scored this season, which passed the 1999 team (553 points) three weeks ago for the top spot in school history.
The Johnnies need to figure out a way to contain Parks but limit the potential damage done by the Red Riders’ other offensive weapons such as quarterback Logan Domer (Sr, 5′ 11″, 165), who has astutely commanded the Riders’ spread offense to close to 2,000 yards through the air. Wide-out Donoven Hall (Sr, 5′ 7″, 155) has made teams pay for losing track of him (505 yards rushing, 476 yards receiving and 12 total TDs), as has Jason Suppan (Sr, 6′ 3″ 180), who leads the Riders in receiving yards with 574 (six TDs). Orrville’s overall speed has snuck up on more than a few opponents this season. Can the Johnnies slow the Red Riders down? How will they deal with Parks?
Another wrinkle for Johnstown-Monroe to think about is Orrville senior kicker Cain Duskey (5′ 10″, 160), who quietly became Orrville High School’s all-time leader for most XPs made in a single season last week against Liberty Center, passing former Red Rider Chad Teague, who booted in 68 XPs in 1999. Duskey has made 73 of 78 XP attempts this season in addition to successfully kicking eight of nine field goals this fall. Duskey’s season total for XPs also ranks him unofficially in a tie for 16th all-time in Ohio high school football history. If the game comes down to the wire, whose kicking game will pull through in the clutch? Long snapper Cooper Haley (So, 5′ 10″, 155), holder Jason Suppan and Duskey have had quite the season from a kicking perspective.
Tale of the tape
The Johnnies have scored an average of 36 points per game and are allowing just 11 points. The Red Riders have scored 44 ppg and allowed an average of 21 points per contest. Both teams have talented running backs, smart and mobile quarterbacks, and talented defenses. Something has to give. Johnstown-Monroe has size on the line of scrimmage. Orrville has speed and is always dangerous on special teams when returning kicks and punts. One thing is for certain: This should be a fun game to watch.
More on Parks’ march through the record books
Parks, just a sophomore, is Orrville’s and Wayne County’s all-time single-season leader with 53 total TDs and 318 total points scored this season. His 53 total TDs unofficially ranks him second all-time in Ohio high school history (all divisions) for a single season, just four TDs shy of tying the all-time state record (Daniel Bangura, Canal Winchester Harvest Prep, with 57 TDs in 2016). Parks’ 318 total points this season unofficially ranks him fifth all-time in Ohio for a single season (all divisions), just 30 points shy of tying the top spot (Daniel Bangura, Canal Winchester Harvest Prep, with 348 total season points scored in 2016).
Parks is unofficially tied for 13th all-time in Ohio high school football (all divisions) for rushing TDs in a single season with 41. Daniel Bangura, Canal Winchester Harvest Prep, holds the top spot with 54 rushing TDs in 2016.
Additionally Parks holds the top spot on Orrville’s and Wayne County’s all-time list for single-season all-purpose yards with 3,545. Three weeks ago against Gilmour Academy, Parks moved into first place on Orrville’s all-time list for rushing yards in a single season when he passed Dru Robinson (2,096 yards) for the top spot. Parks now has 2,601 rushing yards on 216 carries this season, which moved him into the top spot for Wayne County’s most rushing yards in a single season, previously held by Smithville’s Aaron Long (2,435 yards in 2004).
State final stadium information, tickets and pep rally
The Orrville Athletic Department will have a pep rally on Friday, Nov. 30. This will be held at Orrville High School in the old gym at 2:15 p.m. The community is welcome to attend.
Orrville and Johnstown-Monroe will play for all the marbles in Canton at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, where the Red Riders and Johnnies will square off in the 2018 OHSAA Div. V state final on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 3 p.m.
The Johnnies cruised to a 32-14 victory in their semifinal pairing last week with third-ranked Wheelersburg (12-2). Orrville shellacked Liberty Center in their semifinal contest 38-7.
For parking and other information such as what is permitted to be brought into Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium by fans, click here. In an effort to put fears to rest, The Ticket has been told that cow bells are allowed to be brought into the stadium, but you better download and check the rest of the do’s and don’ts (no food/drink, milk jugs or air horns).
Presale tickets ($11) are available at Orrville High School’s athletic office and Expert T’s in downtown Orrville. Click here for presale ticket info. Tickets are still available at Orrville High School’s athletic office on Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Expert T’s from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. On Saturday tickets will only be offered for sale at Orrville High School’s athletic office from 9-10 a.m. Orrville will get back a percentage from each presale ticket sold.
Tickets sold at the gate will be $15-$23.
This is Orrville’s fifth state title game appearance and first trip to the state finals since 1998 when the Red Riders won their only state football title. This is the Red Riders’ 23rd playoff appearance overall, which ranks first in Wayne County history and is tied for 12th all-time in Ohio since the OHSAA adopted the playoffs in 1972.