Haviland Wayne Trace averaged over 54 points a game this season. They scored 80 points in a game. Their high flying five receiver offense had been virtually unstoppable in the post season. Their defense has size, quickness, and the ability to shut teams down. They put the disappointment of not making the state playoffs last year despite a 9-1 record behind them. They seemed primed and ready to win their first ever state football championship.
Someone forgot to tell Kirtland
In what can only be called a spotless performance, the Kirtland Hornets rolled to their second state football championship defeating Wayne Trace 44-16
Kirtland was no stranger to the championship game, as they were making their third straight appearance, and that experience showed in a dismantling of Wayne Trace on both sides of the ball. In a game that many thought would be close, turned into a coronation, thanks to Kirtland running backs Adam Hess, Sam Kukura, and the Kirtland defense.
It started as if we were going to have a thriller. After both teams were stopped on downs on their opening possessions, Kirtland got on the board first. Using a 20 yard run by Kukura and a 30 yard run by Hess, Kirtland found themselves on the Wayne Trace 1 yard line. Quarterback Sam Skiljan took it in from there, and the two point conversion gave Kirtland an 8-0 lead.
Wayne struck back at the beginning of the second quarter. Quarterback Colby Spiece rolled to his right and found Jake Arend down the middle of the field for a 40 yard touchdown pass. The two point conversion tied the score at eight.
Then the onslaught of Kirtland's ground game really kicked into gear
Taking over at their own 40 yard line, Kirtland drove 60 yards, capped with a Hess 5 yard touchdown run. After a Wayne Trace punt, they struck again. A 69 yard run by Hess took the ball to the Wayne Trace 9 yard line, where Hess completed the drive on the next play, stretching the Kirtland lead to 22-8.
Meanwhile, the Kirtland defense was making life miserable for Spiece and the Raider offense. Led by first team All-Ohio performers Matthew Finkler and Canon Schroeder, Spiece was being rushed into throws, and the Raider offense was being forced to punt the ball back to the Kirtland offense.
Not a good idea
After another Wayne Trace punt, Kirtland took over on their own 33 yard line, and it took them exactly one play to extend the lead. Kukura burst up the middle and ran 67 yards for a touchdown, giving Kirtland a 30-8 lead that they would take to the half.
Kirtland's dominance could be seen in the first half statistics:
- Adam Hess carried the ball 16 times for 161 yards
- Sam Kukura had 10 carries for 115 yards
- Wayne Trace was held to 100 yards of total offense
- Canon Schroeder had 6 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and a sack
If the game wasn't decided at halftime, Kirtland made sure it was after their first two possessions of the third quarter. Receiving the ball to start the third quarter at their own 43 yard line, Kirtland scored when Skiljan found tight end Ryan Loncar from 24 yards out, extending the lead to 37-8. After Wayne was stopped on downs, the Hornets struck again through the air as Skiljan hit Finkler from 42 yards out giving Kirtland a 44-8 lead. Wayne Trace did score on the first play of the fourth quarter on a pass from Spiece to Tyler Showalter, and the game ended with Kirtland being able to pull their starters, and the celebration began on the Hornet sideline.
After losing the state championship last year to Coldwater, it was the goal for the Hornets to get back and win their second championship in three years.
I think they more than made their point. Hess would finish the game with 177 yards rushing, and Kukura would lead the Hornets with 196 yards rushing, and the Hornets ran for 421 yards, and rolled up near 600 yards of offense.
Coach Tiger LaVerde was thrilled with his team's performance:
"It's awesome. It's going to be a lot better bus ride home compared to last year, and I wanted these seniors to finish like this. They are just a real special group of kids"
Running back Adam Hess, just a junior, gave credit where credit was due:
"The offensive line was unreal. They have been great all year. We just stuck with our game plan, then took off when we had to"
They sure did
Kirtland proved they are the best team in Division VI, and one of the better small schools in the entire state of Ohio.
Congratulations to Kirtland....truly a job well done