Kennedy, Springfield add to area’s history
When the playoffs were introduced to Ohio high school football in 1972, the Mahoning Valley’s presence was immediate.
Warren Western Reserve won the first-ever Class AAA title in ’72 with a 37-6 win over Cincinnati Princeton. Reserve returned to the title game the following year, only to lose to Youngstown Cardinal Mooney. It marked the only time in playoff history that a pair of Valley teams met in a title game.
Then in 1974, Warren G. Harding completed the hat trick for area teams by winning its first state title with a resounding 41-8 win over Upper Arlington.
From ’72 to 2019, the Mahoning Valley was represented in state title games on 40 different occasions. Nine different area schools have combined to win 21 state championships.
Next weekend, both Warren John F. Kennedy and Springfield have the opportunity to add to the hardware. Over the weekend, Eagles and Tigers both won their respective state semifinal games.
On Friday, Kennedy advanced to the Division VII state championship with a 20-13 win over Newark Catholic. Senior quarterback Cam Hollobaugh rushed for 125 yards and scored all three of Kennedy’s touchdowns. Hollobaugh completed all five of his pass attempts.
Kennedy (9-2) faces New Bremen (9-2), which advanced with a 28-26 win over Lima Central Catholic. The Eagles and Cardinals meet at 2 p.m. Friday at Fortress Obetz in southeast Columbus.
JFK makes its sixth state title appearance, winning championships in 1991 and 2016.
On Saturday, Springfield moved into the Division VI title game with a 16-13 win over previously-unbeaten Fort Frye. Clay Medvec booted a 24-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to break a 13-13 tie, then the Tigers defense made a late stand on a fourth-down play in the red zone to secure the win.
Springfield (11-0) plays Coldwater (11-0), which defeated Columbus Grove, 41-27. The Tigers and Cavaliers meet Sunday at 5 p.m. at Fortress Obetz.
Springfield makes its second straight trip to the title game. Last year, Springfield won its first 14 games before falling to Anna. The Tigers are the first area team to make back-to-back state final appearances since 2010 when Ursuline advanced for a fourth straight year.
The Tigers are the first area public school to advance in consecutive years since Warren Western Reserve accomplished the feat in 1972-73.
Both New Bremen and Coldwater hail from the Midwest Athletic Conference — a league that has produced 35 state championships. Springfield’s 2019 state final opponent — Anna — also is a member of the MAC.
New Bremen is making its first-ever state final appearance. Coldwater is making its 13th trip to the state title game. It owns six state trophies.
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In 2019, Springfield became the 17h school from the Mahoning Valley to reach the state title game.
State championships have been won by Cardinal Mooney (8), Ursuline (4), JFK (2), Warren G. Harding (2), Warren Western Reserve, Brookfield, West Branch, Poland and Lisbon.
Seven area schools lost in their only final appearance. They include; Girard, Boardman, Campbell, Youngstown Chaney, Canfield, Springfield and Wellsville. McDonald is 0-2.
The Mahoning Valley sent two teams to the state finals in the same season on seven different occasions. A trio of area teams advanced in both 1989 (Campbell, JFK, McDonald) and 1994 (West Branch, Wellsville, McDonald).
The Mahoning Valley brought home multiple trophies in 2009 (Ursuline, Mooney).
Northeast Ohio is well represented in the six title games this weekend.
Along with JFK and Springfield, participants include Akron Archbishop Hoban, Massillon, Chardon, Mentor Lake Catholic and Kirtland.
On Friday, Cincinnati St. Xavier defeated Pickerington Central 44-3 in the Division I state final.