MASSILLON (AP) — Members of Coldwater’s football program heard all the pre-season suggestions that theirs would be the team not to make the playoffs, ending a streak that had reached 17 consecutive years.
They never listened.
“Nobody in our locker room believed it. Never,” senior wide receiver and defensive back Drew Otten, son of head coach Chip Otten, said after the Cavaliers won the high school’s second straight Division V state championship.
The Cavaliers beat Columbus Bishop Hartley 24-7 on Saturday before 4,395 fans at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
Ranked sixth in the final Associated Press poll, Coldwater’s Cavaliers won the school’s fourth state championship since 2005 when they turned what had been a defensive struggle into a comfortable win by scoring twice in the span of 2:40 in the fourth quarter.
“The talk around town last summer was that this could be the team that would break the streak of not making the playoffs,” coach Otten said. “We only had about three returning starters and weren’t quite sure who would fit in where. So, I am very happy for these kids because they proved that if you hang together and stick together and work hard, you’ll always have a shot.”
Quarterback Brody Hoying rushed for 145 yards and scored three touchdowns — two in the short span late in the fourth quarter — living up to his choice as the Associated Press offensive player of the year in Division V. Hoying, a 5-10, 180-pound junior, also completed 7 of 12 passes for 83 yards during what was a close, intense game.
The cousin of former Ohio State standouts Bobby Hoying and Adam and Matt Homan, Hoying also came up with a key interception on his 3-yard line. It came as Hartley was driving for what would have been a go-ahead touchdown on the third play of the fourth quarter with Coldwater protecting a 3-point lead.
Hoying returned his interception 33 yards and ignited a 10-play, 64-yard scoring drive in which he carried the ball eight times — including six in a row — for 59 yards. He capped the drive by running around right end and diving into the end zone from three yards, extending Coldwater’s lead to 17-7 with 5:26 left.
Hoying completed the scoring when he went 32 yards after Hartley (13-2) turned the ball over on downs near midfield.
Coldwater’s defense played a key role in the victory as it turned back Hartley, scoring threats four times inside the 30-yard line, once on Hoying’s interception and three times on downs.
Hartley’s touchdown came four plays after junior Tayson Washington recovered a fumble on the first play of the second half at the Coldwater 45.
Both squads chose to keep the ball mostly on the ground. Hoying attempted just 13 passes and Hartley’s Jared Brandewie attempted 12.
Hoying and Mitch Schoenherr combined to run for 205 yards, while Brandewie and teammates Alonzo Saxton and Sam Mackowiak accounted for most of the Hawks’ 206 yards. Brandewie scored Hartley’s only touchdown on a 7-yard run in the third quarter.
Coldwater, from the historically strong Midwest Athletic Conference, became the third school this weekend to successfully defend a state title. Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary and Clarksville Clinton-Massie won titles on Thursday and Friday, respectively.