Game of the Week

Orrville shines in Div. V state semifinal against Liberty Center

Two very different teams met up for a potential date with destiny on Saturday, Nov. 24 at Sandusky Perkins’ Firelands Regional Medical Center Stadium in the 2018 OHSAA Div. V state football semifinal between the Orrville Red Riders (12-2) and eighth-ranked Liberty Center Tigers (12-2). The Red Riders’ season of dreams will continue after Orrville tamed the Tigers’ run-heavy offense 38-7 to earn a berth to play in next Saturday’s state title game.

On yet another night where super sophomore sensation Marquael Parks terrorized opponents ankles and senior Logan Domer calmly directed Orrville’s explosive offense, it was the Red Rider defense that continued to shine on this night. Liberty Center’s offensive running attack has been difficult for opposing teams to deal with all season, but due to a season-ending injury to veteran QB Jarrett Krugh a few weeks ago and running back Zach Bowers limited with an injury, the Tiger O has relied heavily on senior RB Caleb Carpenter during the playoff push. Carpenter still finished his final high school game with impressive numbers (151 yards rushing on 33 carries with one TD), but the Red Rider defensive front four led by All-Ohio Special Mention Burl Pumphrey hammered the Tiger offensive line all night long, allowing All-Ohio Second Team linebacker Ben Summers to prowl the middle of the field to slow Carpenter down after his sole score in the opening quarter. All-Ohio First Team defensive back Jason Suppan also had a nice night for the red and white with a recovered fumble and some big tackles.

With Carpenter relatively held in check, Orrville’s offense finally settled down after a couple of first-quarter turnovers, and Parks, a 2018 Div. V Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association All-Ohio First Team selection on offense for the Red Riders, put on another Barry Sanders meets Walter Payton display. The 5′ 9″ tailback slashed and juked his way to another over-200-yard game on the ground and four TDs. Parks got the Riders on the scoreboard first when he bobbled the ball, picked it up off the carpet and reversed field to run against the grain of Tiger defenders on his way to a 16-yard TD (Cain Duskey XP was good), and Orrville led 7-0 with 7:13 to go in the first quarter.

Carpenter put the Tigers on his back and plunged into the end-zone for a 4-yard TD with 1:43 left in the opening quarter to knot the game up at 7-7, but Parks hit the jets during a 57-yard TD on the first play from scrimmage after the ensuing kickoff, and the Red Riders were back in the lead 14-7 (Duskey XP was good) to close out an exciting but turnover plagued first quarter of play.

Liberty Center’s offense controlled the football to open the second quarter and drove down the field to Orrville’s 25-yard line. It looked like the Tigers were going to answer Orrville’s quick score; however, senior Donoven Hall had different plans. LC’s sophomore QB Camden Krugh floated a pass down the left sideline into the end zone, and Hall snatched it out of the receiver’s hands for the interception and touch-back to give Orrville the ball back.

Hall’s interception gave the Red Rider offense the jolt they needed to score just two minutes later when Parks left a bevy of Tigers scratching their heads in disbelief after his most dazzling run of the night, where six solid tackle attempts by Liberty Center’s defensive unit came up empty and Parks found pay-dirt from 35 yards out for his third TD of the night (Duskey XP was good) to give Orrville a 21-7 lead with 8:28 left in the second quarter. Parks finished the opening half with six carries for 146 yards to go with the three TDs.

With halftime approaching, the Rider defense was dialed in and forced Liberty Center into a negative-yardage punt, giving Domer and the Orrville offense great field position. Domer wasted little time in connecting with Hall on a beautiful 29-yard scoring strike (Duskey XP was good) to give the Red Riders a comfortable 28-7 lead with 5:33 left in the half.

Whether it was with his arm or using his feet, Domer made plays all night for the Red Riders. With less than a minute to work with, Domer escaped a collapsing pocket and rolled right to connect with fellow senior Nathen Dombroski, who took the rock 55 yards before he was brought down at the 17-yard line. Domer completed six of eight passes in the first half to the tune of one TD and 135 yards.

However, the Tiger defense eventually got the stop they needed when they prevented Orrville from scoring another TD before the end of the half. The Red Riders settled for a 21-yard field goal by All-Ohio Special Mention Cain Duskey with 12 seconds remaining on the clock, giving Orrville a 31-7 lead at the break. Earlier in the game after Orrville’s first TD, Duskey became the Red Rider’s all-time leader for the most successful extra-point attempts in a single season, previously held by Chad Teague with 68 XPs made in 1999.

Liberty Center began the second half with the ball and hopefully some tweaks to their game plan if they were going to slow the Orrville attack down and get back into the game. However, Ben Summers and Payton Brown helped Orrville’s defense to once again force the Tigers into a three-and-out series, giving Orrville’s offense the ball and a chance to pile on more points.

However, just as it looked like the Red Riders were going to once again light up the score board, the Tiger defense picked off a Domer pass attempt to Parks up the seam, and Liberty Center had a chance to build some much-needed momentum.

Once again the Rider defense stepped up and got a big stop on the ensuing Tiger drive when sophomore defensive end Ben Amstutz cleaned up the Riders’ relentless pursuit by a blitzing Parks and sophomore linebacker Jake Phillips to earn another tackle for a loss, forcing another punt by Liberty Center with 5:09 left in the third quarter.

Domer, Parks and the highly efficient Orrville offense went back to work, producing another scoring drive that ended with Parks pulling a Houdini act out of a play where the Tigers seemingly had him bottled up for a big loss of yardage only to find him appearing in the end-zone with the football and his fourth TD of the night (Duskey XP was good). With 1:22 remaining in the third quarter, Orrville led 38-7. By rule the over-30-point scoring differential triggered a continuous clock and a lot of cheerful noise could be heard from the Red Rider faithful.

Liberty Center couldn’t catch up to Orrville’s speed all night, but the Tigers gave their full effort all the way to the final play. Orrville’s defense played a stellar game and rose to the occasion all night, especially when the Red Rider offense had trouble protecting the football. Orrville ran out the rolling clock in the fourth quarter and secured their chance to play for all the marbles in Canton at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, where the Red Riders will face the fourth-ranked Johnstown-Monroe Johnnies.

Coaches Corner

Liberty Center head coach Casey Mohler knew his squad had run into a buzz-saw with Parks. “He’s on another level than what we are. Not only is he great, he makes everyone else around him great because you have to concentrate so much on him. Their other athletes are very good, and that was kind of the difference. They just had too much speed and quickness for us. Our kids played as hard as they could. Orrville is a great team. I wish them luck next week.”

Orrville head coach Doug Davault was emotional afterwards, wanting to connect with his family during the post-game celebration. “I thought we did a good job of attacking them offensively and defensively. We got better as the game went on. That is a good football team. They aren’t as one-dimensional of a team as they appear to be. We knew they were a little banged up. We were concerned about the pass. They have a nice sophomore quarterback who can throw the ball a little bit, but our defensive guys got it done. Ever since the early Manchester game, our defense has gotten better and better. As long as our guys do their job, don’t try to do too much and stick to their assignments, we are pretty stinking good.”

Davault knows the Riders need to be more disciplined, especially at this level of the playoffs. “We overcame some adversity with our turnovers and penalties, which we can’t have at this point of the season, but we kept the pressure on them, and we made some plays. I’m proud of these kids. I don’t want to sound arrogant or anything, but we have a lot of guys who can score. Marquael is special, but if teams key on him, we have Suppan, Domer, Hall and Dombroski, who are all play-makers. Marquael is doing things that I’ve never seen before, and I’ve been doing this a long time. He is a phenomenal football player.”

One thing in football that is a constant trait of successful teams: Every player needs to be ready to step up and do whatever it takes to help the team succeed. Tonight was no different as Davault praised junior Coddie Phillips. “Our guys up front did a tremendous job. We had a new center tonight. Coddie Phillips came in and did a fantastic job after never playing the position at all before. He had never snapped a ball until this week and held his own tonight.”

Davault deflected any commentary about this season bringing any sort of vindication after some lean years since Orrville’s last playoff appearance in 2011. “I’m happy for the kids. I don’t think they ever had a doubt that we’d be here. We took them camping the first week of two-a-days, and the kids talked about going all the way to Canton this season during that week. I reminded them we only won four games last year and we had new guys on the roster who we really didn’t know if they could even play. But the kids sensed it and knew. This isn’t about vindication. It’s about being back to where we’ve been and making our community proud, and I’m glad that everybody is on board, at least for another game.”

The numbers for Orrville

Parks finished the game with 222 rushing yards on 16 attempts for four TDs. Domer completed 10-of-14 passing attempts for 167 yards (one TD) with one INT. Domer also rushed for 13 yards on the ground. He now has completed 113 passes for 1,909 yards this season with 19 TDs and five INTs.

Hall had another outstanding night on both sides of the football. He caught five passes for 54 yards (TD), rushed for 43 yards and snagged the big momentum-killing INT in the opening quarter. Dombroski also gave the Orrville offense a lift with 14 rushing yards, but most importantly he led all Riders with 108 yards receiving.

The numbers for Liberty Center

Carpenter finished with 150 rushing yards on 33 carries (one TD) to go with two receiving yards in his final game for the Tigers. Zach Bowers managed 22 rushing yards on eight carries. Camden Krugh completed six of 15 passes for 46 yards. Conner Sonnenberg led all Tiger receivers with three catches for 21 yards.

The Red Rider and Wayne County record books are still blazing

Duskey quietly became Orrville High School’s all-time leader for most XPs made in a single season, passing former Red Rider Chad Teague, who booted in 68 XPs in 1999. Duskey knocked through five more XPs on the night against Liberty Center, giving him a season total of 73 (of 78) XPs in addition to kicking eight field goals on nine attempts. Duskey’s season total for XPs also ranks him in a tie for 16th all-time in Ohio high school football history.

Parks started rewriting the Orrville and Wayne County record books over a month ago. Parks 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 this season also currently ranks him second all-time in Ohio high school history (all divisions), just four TDs shy of tying the all-time state record (Daniel Bangura, Canal Winchester Harvest Prep, with 57 TDs in 2016). His 318 total points scored this season also ranks him fifth all-time in Ohio high school football history (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 also added to his total in the top spot on Orrville’s and Wayne County’s all-time list for single-season all-purpose yards with 3,545.

Two 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 moves him into the top spot for Wayne County’s most rushing yards in a single season, previously held by Smithville’s Aaron Long, who rushed for 2,435 yards on the ground in 2004.

Parks is currently 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.

The Red Riders continue to pad their season scoring total, which now stands at a record 617 points scored this season, which passed the 1999 team (553 points) three weeks ago for the top spot in school history.

State finals

Orrville will play in Canton at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, where the Red Riders will face the fourth-ranked Johnstown-Monroe Johnnies (13-1) 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 with third-ranked Wheelersburg (12-2).

For parking and other information such as what is permitted to be brought into the stadium by fans, click here. 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.

This is Orrville’s fifth state title game appearance and first trip to the state finals since 1998. 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.


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