Game of the Week

Orrville brings home second football state championship 20 years later

The Orrville Red Riders (13-2) and fourth-ranked Johnstown-Monroe Johnnies (13-2) met in the 2018 OHSAA Div. V state championship game on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 3 p.m. in Canton at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, where the Red Riders prevailed 49-34. It was Orrville’s second state football title since 1998.

Going into the state final, Orrville found itself once again paired against an opponent very different in style than the Red Riders. Johnstown-Monroe utilized a highly successful ball-control offense this season, featuring multiple runners including All-Ohio First Team selection Bryce Barasch and a very mobile quarterback. Orrville for much of the year relied on a spread, quick-strike offense that had flash and sizzle, featuring All-Ohio First Team running back Marquael Parks, compared to the Johnnies pound it on the ground philosophy. J-M’s All-Ohio Second Team quarterback Caden Calhoun hadn’t thrown the ball much all season, but he certainly carved up opposing defenses with his legs. Orrville QB Logan Domer had thrown for roughly 2,000 yards to 12 different receivers, despite a banged up collarbone, but he could use his legs if needed. Both schools had stout defenses that loved to get to the football and fly around the field. Something would have to give. Would the power run game or lightning-quick, big-play offense prevail?

Div. V state final

Orrville’s offense opened the game with possession of a very slippery football on a day where the wind and rain were relentless throughout the first half. Johnstown-Monroe’s defense forced Orrville’s offense into an immediate three-and-out series, and the Riders had to punt from their own 34-yard line. Senior do-it-all wideout/safety/kicking placeholder/punter Jason Suppan boomed a 63-yard punt that just barely leaked into the opposing end zone for a touch back. The Johnnies would start their opening drive from their own 20-yard line, and J-M’s offense would put together an eight-play, 30-yard drive that chewed 4:27 off the clock before senior All-Ohio Second Team linebacker Ben Summers made two key stops on the Johnnies’ Luke Myers and Barasch while fellow Orrville teammates Logan Hogie and Jake Phillips made a possession-crushing tackle on third down to force J-M to punt.

Orrville stalled once again on their second offensive possession, and Johnstown-Monroe took the early lead when Barasch, Calhoun and Myers combined their rushing talents in multiple ways during a seven-play, 56-yard drive that resulted in Calhoun taking it into the end zone on a 10-yard keeper where he just beat the Rider defenders to the left pylon (Alex Jenney XP kick was good). With 1:13 left in the opening quarter, Johnstown-Monroe led 7-0.

The Johnnies TD seemed to grab the attention of the Red Rider offense on the ensuing possession as Domer completed two passes to Parks for 16- and 19-yard gains, but J-M was packing the box and keying on Parks running the ball, which opened opportunities for Domer, who ran the read-option to practical perfection throughout the game. It was a wrinkle that J-M wasn’t ready for. With 11:18 left in the second quarter, Domer made a read to keep the ball instead of handing it off to Parks. The Johnnies defense bit on the fake, and Domer hit the jets for a 36-yard TD run (Cain Duskey XP kick was good) to tie the game at 7-7.

Orrville head coach Doug Davault thought the read-option might throw the Johnnies off guard a bit, and it worked. “Logan told us ‘it’s playoffs coach, and I’m ready to roll.’ He had broken his collarbone last year, and then this year he hurt the same collarbone. The reality of it was that he really didn’t start running the ball until week five, six or seven, and even at that point he wasn’t finishing runs. Tonight you saw what Logan could have probably been doing all year. He finished every run he had today. There weren’t any slides. He stomped his foot in the ground, and he went. When he is able to do that, he is stinking dynamic. We knew that opportunity for him was there. Johnstown probably didn’t. Every one of Logan’s runs today were a read by him. They weren’t predetermined calls for a specific ball carrier. He read what they were doing to Marquael and then decided it’s a keep or a give. On top of all that, when you have Suppan sitting on the outside, Donoven Hall sitting on the outside, who can either run it or catch a pass, it forces defenses to make a choice to key on Marquael or try and defend everything else. That is what made us so good all year long. Teams couldn’t solely focus on stopping Marquael, which is tough enough to do as it is.”

The Rider defense forced Johnstown-Monroe into a three-and-out on their next possession when senior defensive back Donoven Hall cracked Cole Workman on third and long for an incomplete pass to force the Johnnies to punt. Orrville began their next possession in good field position with the ball on their own 41-yard line until all heck broke loose for the Orrville O. A false start penalty opened the drive, followed by Parks losing a wet football on the turf and pouncing back on it for an 11-yard loss, putting the Riders in a really bad spot on second down and 25 yards needed to keep the series alive. Domer’s pass to Suppan fell incomplete, and Orrville coughed up the football on third down. This time the Johnnies’ Kaden Davis recovered the loose ball for the game’s first turnover.

With Johnstown-Monroe having stellar field position, the Johnnies were looking to capitalize on Orrville’s generosity with the loose football. J-M began their attack on Orrville’s 24-yard line, but gang tackles by Parks, Burl Pumphrey, Phillips, Suppan and Austin Armstrong had the Johnnies looking at fourth down and needing just 1 yard to keep the drive alive. With the ball deep in Orrville territory on the 15-yard line, the Johnnies decided to gamble and go for it instead of attempting a field goal. Parks cracked Barasch at the line of scrimmage for no gain, and the Rider defense forced a turnover on downs and more importantly kept J-M from adding to their total on the score board.

The Red Rider offense immediately rode the wave of their defense’s stingy stand by stringing together a five-play, 85-yard drive capped off by Domer cracking off a 60-yard keeper on another read-option to give Orrville a 14-7 lead with 5:47 left in the opening half of play.

A major turning point of the game happened just before halftime when Johnstown-Monroe refused to use any of their time-outs in the final minute of the opening half. Calhoun and company had cobbled together a monster 13-play, 42-yard drive that was marred by penalties including a huge block in the back call that nullified Calhoun’s nifty 50-yard TD run on a broken play.

The drive chewed 5:41 off the clock before halftime, and J-M certainly could have used a few of their available time-outs in the final minutes of the drive to regroup. The Johnnies eventually drove the ball deep into Orrville territory, and it looked like J-M would likely stop Orrville’s momentum with a TD before half to make it a tie game. However, J-M failed to stop the clock, wasting valuable seconds, and the double punch to the gut was when the Johnnies were flagged with a false start penalty that backed up their late field goal attempt another 5 yards. As time expired on the clock, senior placekicker Alex Jenney’s FG attempt from 35 yards hit the lower cross bar and fell incomplete. Orrville escaped into halftime with a 14-7 lead.

When asked why Johnstown-Monroe didn’t use any of their timeouts in the final minute of the first half, head coach Mike Carter said, “Towards the end of the first half, we needed to make sure we had better communication. I thought we were moving the ball with the down and distance that we would be able to get the score we needed.”

Johnstown-Monroe regrouped in the locker room and started the second half with the football and a chance to tie the game, but Orrville’s defense forced the Johnnies to punt after a three-and-out when Summers made two stops and Jacob Bailey and Austin Armstrong tackled Barasch for a loss on third down. Orrville’s offense began their first series of the third quarter on their own 39-yard line, and on the very first play from scrimmage, Logan Domer made the correct read on the option and tucked the ball under his arm and bolted 61 yards down the right sideline for his third score on the day (Duskey XP was good). With 10:42 left in the third quarter, Orrville had scored 21 unanswered points and built a 21-7 advantage.

As much as Johnstown-Monroe was down on their luck in what had transpired in the closing minute of the first half and opening minutes of the second half, the Johnnies responded to Orrville’s score with a nine-play, 80-yard drive that was capped off by Myers 1-yard TD plunge (Jenney’s XP was good). With 7:49 left in the third quarter, the Johnnies narrowed Orrville’s lead to just 21-14.

On the ensuing kickoff after Johnstown-Monroe’s score, Marquael Parks received the kick and returned it 45 yards to the J-M 40-yard line before Jaden Jacob finally stopped him. Three plays later Parks finally broke free for his first TD of the game from 31 yards out (Duskey XP was good). Orrville wasted little time in answering the Johnnies scoring drive with a quick three-play, 40-yard scoring drive of their own, pushing the Red Riders’ lead to 28-14 with 6:39 remaining in the third quarter.

Once again the Johnnies refused to let the game get out of hand. J-M’s offense went back to work, still sticking with the successful formula that advanced them to the state finals, which is to pound the football on the ground. J-M answered Orrville’s score with a lengthy 12-play, 88-yard scoring drive, where they ran the ball 11 times. The drive ended with Myers’ second score of the game from 1 yard out (Jenney XP was good). With 1:57 left in the third quarter, Orrville led 28-21. The combined four TD-scoring explosion by both teams in the third quarter contrasted the combined three TDs scored in the entire opening half. Both teams were just getting warmed up.

The final quarter opened with the offenses from both schools solidly in a scoring groove, and Orrville had the football. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Parks took the hand-off from Domer and made seven cuts, leaving behind a slew of Johnnies on the turf as he cruised into the end-zone for a 47-yard TD (Duskey XP was good). Again, it was Orrville’s quick-strike ability that was on display after a five-play, 73-yard scoring drive. Orrville pushed their lead to 35-21, and Parks had his second TD of the game.

Johnstown-Monroe started their following offensive series from their own 37-yard line. It looked like Logan Hogie, Armstrong and Burl Pumphrey had given the Rider defense the boost they needed to force the Johnnies to punt (and give Orrville’s offense the ball back); however, a face mask penalty on the Riders extended the Johnnie’s drive. Barasch picked up a nice 7-yard gain for J-M, but he was dropped at the line of scrimmage on the following play before Orrville’s Jason Suppan forced J-M’s Myers to cough up the football, and Kollen Butler recovered the loose ball for Orrville to stop the Johnnies’ threat.

Johnstown-Monroe’s defense rose to the occasion when the team needed it most by digging in and forcing Orrville’s offense into a three-and-out after Domer was sacked by Stew Davis to start the Riders’ next series, followed by Kaden Davis and Bryce Writesel stopping Parks for a 2-yard gain on the next play. An incompletion by Domer on third down forced Orrville to punt, and Myers returned it 20 yards to give the Johnnies great field position on their own 44-yard line with 7:24 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Once again Orrville’s defense got the stop they needed when Bailey and Armstrong collapsed on Barasch behind the line of scrimmage for a loss, and brothers Pumphrey, Burl and Dustin limited Myers to a 1-yard gain on third down, setting up fourth down and 3 yards to go for the Johnnies. After a time-out the Johnnies went for it, but the Rider defense stuffed the run, and J-M turned the ball over on downs.

The defensive stop inspired Orrville’s offense, and Domer struck again three plays later for his fourth rushing TD of the game (tying the Div. V title game record for most rushing TDs scored) when he scampered 13 yards around the right end, getting a nice block from Suppan to help seal the sideline and then making a terrific cut to his left to avoid three would-be tacklers for the score (Duskey XP was good). With 4:45 left in the game, Orrville looked to be in full control with a commanding 42-21 lead.

Just three plays later Johnstown-Monroe’s Calhoun connected with Cole Workman for a 45-yard touchdown pass when Workman worked himself free and took it all the way to the bank (Jenney XP was good). The three-play, 51-yard drive jolted the Johnnies back to life, and the pressure continued building on both sides of the ball as time kept ticking away on the game clock. With 3:30 left in the game, Orrville’s lead was cut to 42-28.

Domer and Parks once again answered the bell for the Red Riders, and the offensive line did their jobs in helping Domer pick up 12 yards rushing and Parks 37 yards on the ground including a 1-yard dive into the end-zone behind the blocks up front by Camden Cormany and Christian Ross (Duskey XP was good) to increase Orrville’s lead to 49-28 with 2:07 left in the game.

The Johnnies’ Calhoun connected with Nate Curran for a 60-yard pass on J-M’s first play from scrimmage on the ensuing possession after Curren snuck behind the Red Rider defense, but Suppan ran him down and tackled Curran on the 7-yard line to prevent the TD reception. However, on the next play Barasch ran the ball in from 7 yards for his sole score of the game (Jenney XP was no good) with 1:36 remaining. The Johnnies still trailed 49-34, and the clock was not in their favor.

Orrville recovered the onside kick attempt and ran the ball five straight plays to help kill the clock, eventually giving the Johnnies the ball back with only 10 seconds remaining in the game. Ben Amstutz launched himself into the Johnnies backfield on the next play and dropped Calhoun in the backfield for Orrville’s only sack of the game to seal the Red Riders’ first state football title in 20 years after a wild 49-34 victory.

Coaches Corner

Johnnies head coach Mike Carter was proud of his team. “I couldn’t be more proud of how our young men prepared themselves for this game and how they fought until the very end. Our seniors have been absolutely incredible leaders, showed incredible character, not just for the other players on our team, but throughout the school. I’m most proud of the fact that not only are they good athletes, but they are also very good citizens.”

The game came down to execution and limiting the temptation for his defense to over pursue the football. Carter said, “They have some very good athletes, and we didn’t read our keys or pursue exactly like we needed to do, and they were able to do great things in those instances, which kind of put us in the hole.”

Carter was well aware of Parks’ talent but also knew his squad needed to be ready to defend Orrville’s other offensive weapons. “It’s hard to compare one person to another person, but one thing I can say for certain is that number 21 is a unique and special athlete who does a fantastic job at his craft. Kudos to him and his team for being able to do some exciting things out there today. We knew the quarterback was a great player. Honestly we were over-pursuing in the first half. We discussed at halftime to make sure we filled our gaps and read our keys, but because of our over-pursuit, it allowed their quarterback to do some nice things out there. When you are playing in a big game like this, it is very important that you play exactly as you planned to play. One of the things we stressed all week long was not just key on number 21. No matter how great of a running back he is, we knew they had other special athletes that we had to take care of. We knew we had to play sound gap defense, pursue and hit pockets. Unfortunately we fell short today.”

For Orrville, coach Davault could not have been happier in how his team played under some difficult circumstances this season. “I’m thrilled in how our kids handled adversity. Whether it be personnel or injuries or other things, our kids found a way to battle through all of that stuff, and we ended up here in the finals. Our theme this year was ‘Now. We. Go.’ And our cheerleaders coined that for us. We started the game today talking about there we were, here we are and now we go. It was fun to watch us progress early in the season as we weren’t exactly sure what we were going to look like as a team. As we went through the season, we ran into a couple of hiccups, and then we just got pretty darn good. We continued to make a lot of mistakes on the field, and we made some more today to be perfectly honest with you, but our kids kept on playing, got stops when we needed to have stops, and by the second half we started to get scores when we needed to have scores. I could not be more pleased for them, our coaching staff, and I’m tickled for our community because this is what they expect and more so what they demand. It was great to see the community and watch their reactions up in the stands today. For our kids and our community, I couldn’t be prouder.”

The numbers for Orrville

Logan Domer’s unforgettable performance will go down in the lore of OHS history. The senior completed just 5-of-10 passing attempts for 42 yards on a rain-soaked afternoon, but it was his 10 rushing attempts for 207 yards on the ground that will be remembered most by the Red Rider faithful. Logan had only rushed for 317 yards all season (22.6 ypg) prior to the state final. Domer’s four TDs on the ground (36, 60, 61, 13) tied a state title game record for most rushing TDs. The most important stat of all was that Domer played error-free football, like most games this season, and did not commit any turnovers. Domer finished his senior year completing 122 passes for 2,073 yards this season with 20 TDs and five INTs.

Logan was excited for his big day but more excited for the state title. “It feels great to get four TDs, but it’s even better that we won. Winning a state championship, there’s nothing like it.”

Sophomore All-Ohio First Team running back Marquael Parks finished with 198 yards rushing on 22 attempts and three TDs. Parks also caught one pass for 19 yards, returned two kicks for 57 yards and one punt for 6 yards. On defense he made six tackles (three solo).

Parks admitted the going got tough early on in the state final. “They were mainly keying on me in the first half, which gave Logan an opportunity to gain yards and get up the field. The second half I could see their defense hesitate as to whether Logan or I had the ball. Things eventually opened up.”

Parks had 56 total TDs this season, which unofficially ranks him second all-time in OHSAA history (all divisions), falling just one TD shy of tying the all-time state record (Daniel Bangura, Canal Winchester Harvest Prep, 57 TDs, 2016). Marquael also scored 336 total points this season, which unofficially ranks him second all-time in OHSAA football history (all divisions), just 12 points shy of the top spot (Daniel Bangura, Canal Winchester Harvest Prep, 348 total season points scored in 2016).

When asked if he was aware of the TD record, Parks said, “Yeah, I was aware of it, but I wasn’t worried about that. I had to get a dub [for these guys]. It’s my last game playing with my senior teammates. We had a heck of a season this year, and I wanted to send them off right with a dub.”

When asked how he felt about Domer’s big scoring runs, Parks said, “It’s the best feeling ever. He took some stress off of me.” For more on Parks onslaught of the Orrville, Wayne County and OHSAA record books, click here.

The Riders special teams came up huge all game in the state final. Jason Suppan made the most of his punting opportunities. His 51-yard average on the day was crucial to pinning the Johnnies deep in their own territory. His first punt in the opening quarter went 63 yards and just barely ended up in the end-zone for a touch-back. His second boot pinned Johnstown-Monroe inside their own 20-yard line. Suppan, an All-Ohio First Team defense selection as a safety, is one of three Red Riders that literally don’t come off the field the entire game, and his hands and athleticism are big reasons why. On a day when the rain was relentless and the wind was blustery throughout, Suppan’s hands as the Riders’ placeholder for XPs were clutch as he deftly caught the snap and placed the ball down perfectly for all seven of All-Ohio Special Mention kicker Cain Duskey’s successful XP attempts. For more on Duskey’s record year, click here. On defense Suppan finished the game with five solo tackles, five assists and one forced fumble.

Payton Brown led the Riders in his final game as a senior with two receptions for 16 yards while solidly performing his duties at defensive back. Fellow senior Donoven Hall carried the ball two times for 26 yards and caught one pass for 2 yards. Hall also had four tackles on defense and forced a fumble.

Senior LB Ben Summers led the Rider defense with 16 tackles, seven of which were solo. He finished his OHS football career in third place for most tackles in a season with 182 (28 solo, 154 assists). He sits behind Mason Monheim (189 tackles in 2010) and current linebacker coach Jason Haley (201 tackles in 1988). Junior LB Austin Armstrong (five solo) and sophomore LB Jake Phillips (three solo) each ended up with 12 tackles. Sophomore DL Jacob Bailey came up big for the Rider trench gang with nine tackles, three of which were for a loss. Sophomore DE Ben Amstutz also had nine tackles including the Red Riders’ only sack of Calhoun. The defensive firm of senior Burl Pumphrey and junior Dustin Pumphrey combined for 11 tackles up front as the brothers jammed the middle of Johnstown-Monroe’s offensive line and pressured the quarterback throughout the game.

Summers praised the Rider front four on defense. “They are tough-nosed kids that don’t like the glory, but they like to do the dirty work and get all the rings and jewelry that go with winning championships.”

Davault praised Jacob Bailey for working his way back to the field in week 10. The Pumphrey brothers, Logan Hogie and ends Ben Amstutz and Austin Armstrong, when coupled with Orrville’s two very active linebackers in Ben Summers and Jake Phillips, that’s a pretty good front seven.

“When you add Parks on an edge with Nathan Dombroski or Payton Brown on the opposite edge, Kollen Butler came in the game today and did a really good job for us, then Suppan roaming the middle at safety with linebacker responsibility, we end up with ten guys geared toward stopping the run, and that’s a big reason why we won today.”

The numbers for Johnstown-Monroe

All-Ohio Second Team quarterback Caden Calhoun gave everything he had on the field and finished with 128 rushing yards on 25 carries with one TD, completing five of eight passes for 155 yards through the air for another score. All-Ohio First Team running back Bryce Barasch rushed 22 times for 83 yards (one TD). Luke Myers finished with 74 yards rushing on 20 carries with one fumble. Nate Curran led the Johnnies in receiving with three receptions for 104 yards. Teammate Cole Workman caught only one pass, but he took it 45 yards for a TD. Wes Myers led the Johnnies on defense with 11 tackles (five solo).

Postseason history

This was Orrville’s fifth state title game appearance in school history and first trip to the state finals since 1998 when the Red Riders earned the school’s first football state championship after defeating Coldwater 23-21 in the Div. IV title game. This was the Red Riders’ 23rd playoff appearance overall, which ranks first in Wayne County history. Orrville is tied for 12th all-time among all schools since the OHSAA adopted the playoffs in 1972.

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