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Snow played a big role in state finals

December 7, 2013
By LOU CALI JR. - Tribune Chronicle ( , Underthelights

MASSILLON - Just prior to the Division IV state final, "Let It Snow" blared throughout the speakers at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon.

And snow it did.

For four quarters the snowstorm stayed, varying from heavy to very heavy. A trio of snow plows made their way across the turf field on numerous occasions but made little difference. Where the yard lines and numerals were was anybody's guess.

Article Photos

For the Tribune Chronicle / Michael Taylor
Cardinal Mooney’s Mark Handel runs a 13-yard touchdown into the end zone on Friday night.

Clarksville Clinton-Massie enjoyed the frolic a bit more than Cardinal Mooney. A very questionable fourth-down pass-interference call led to Bayle Wolf's third touchdown, this one from 2 yards out with 70 seconds remaining, as the Falcons won their second-straight title, 27-21.

"It was a different atmosphere but I thought it was cool," said Wolf, who finished with 172 yards on 33 carries.

Clinton-Massie coach Dan McSurley said his team prepares for this type of weather from the start of summer practice.

"We knew it was going to be just a pounding snow for four quarters," he said. "Generally we're more of a flex-pro type team and different formations. But tonight it was obvious that we were just going to stay straight in the wishbone.

"That's our base offense. That's the very first thing we do, the very first day of practice during two-a-days, we install the wishbone just for these types of games."

STILL ELITE: Despite the loss, the Cardinals remain one of the programs with the deepest tradition in the state. Mooney was going for its ninth title, but instead will remain tied for second most with Cincinnati Moeller (which plays today) and Newark Catholic, all with eight. Atop the list is Cleveland St. Ignatius, which has 11.

Mooney's 60 playoff wins is third all time, nine behind Newark Catholic. The Cardinals are also tied for fifth in playoff appearances and are seventh in postseason winning percentage (for teams with at least 50 games).

DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS: Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary coach Dan Boarman asked a simple question to reporters to begin his post-game press conference Thursday night.

"Have you guys seen better defense played than that?"

I've been coming to the state title games for the better part of two decades (missing a year here and there) and I'm not sure I have. While I had not seen the Irish this season, local radio personality Mario DiMartino had joked that the Irish only needed three points to win. SV-SM's 24-0 victory over Trotwood-Madison in the D-III title game proved that.

"I don't know what it was. I don't have a word for it. St. Vincent played a great game today," said Trotwood-Madison coach Maurice Douglass.

The Rams had averaged 46 points in their last 11 games. Thursday they had 111 total yards including just 12 on 23 rushes.

LONCAR AND VINEGAR:?Trotwood-Madison's Clem Vinegar did not close out his career the way he'd hoped. However, he leaves as the holder of a record that could be broken but won't be shattered.

The 6-foot, 315-pound center started every game since his freshman year, 59 straight. As long as the current playoff format holds the most any team can play in a four-year span is 60. The Rams reached the state finals four years in a row (winning in 2011) but only played nine regular-season games this year.

Douglass hinted Vinegar has not drawn much attention from college coaches but he should.

"If you give Clem an opportunity he's going to do great things for you," Douglass said. "He's got the test scores; he's got the grades. Just give him an opportunity."

Kirtland two-way starter Ryan Loncar finished his career one game behind Douglass. Loncar also started every game since his freshman season. The Hornets reached the state finals the past three seasons. Kirltand won it all in 2011 and again Friday, via a 44-16 victory over Haviland Wayne Trace in the D-VI game.

WELCOME BACK:?Of the six state champions in 2012 (this is the first year the OHSAA went to seven divisions) five reached the finals again. The only missing school was Toledo Central Catholic, which won the D-II crown last season and moved to D-III this year.

SV-SM and Clinton Massie have already repeated. Moeller (D-I), Coldwater (D-V) and Maria Stein Marion Local (D-VI, now in D-VII) will try to follow suit today.