Listing at 4-4 through Week 8 and saddled with an uncharacteristic three straight losses, the Knights had to win their final two games to make the playoffs as a No. 8 and final seed.
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“I’m extremely proud of our kids,” Domsitz said. “Three or four weeks ago, we probably wouldn’t have been able to do it. Something clicked in the (Week 9 McNicholas) game. All of a sudden the confidence, execution and intensity was there and it carried over into (CJ). We knew it was going to have to do that or we weren’t going to be successful.”
CJ had its five-game win streak snapped and shares the GCL Co-Ed title with Badin (7-3), which also made the D-III, Region 12 cut. It’s the first league title by CJ since 2001.
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Alter and CJ also played a similar doubleheader as recently as 2017. Alter also won that regular-season finale 34-6, but CJ won the following week’s first-round playoff rematch, 49-28.
Steneman had three first-half touchdown passes and Alter led 35-7 at halftime. He had a 65-yard scoring pass to Seth Morris and an 11-yarder to Brian Shane. A 52-yarder to Patrick Connor on a mostly long run held up for the game winner with 27.3 seconds left in the half.
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Alter’s Branden McDonald added a 90-yard kickoff return for a score and Morris also had a 3-yard scoring run.
CJ shut down Alter 21-0 in the second half, but that wasn’t enough. CJ senior QB Ryan Minor matched Steneman with three TD passes. Sophomore play-maker Kenyon Owens caught a 40-yard TD pass from Minor and torched the Knights with seven catches for 122 yards and another nifty 22-yard touchdown catch in the first half.
John Huffman also caught a 12-yard TD pass from Minor and Marquel Henry added a 1-yard TD run.
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“It was tough at halftime, looking at my kids and trying to figure out how to get us back in the game,” CJ coach Marcus Colvin said. “But, my gosh, they responded. We’re going to learn from that. I’m not tricked by their record. That’s a really good team.”
CJ will be making its 16th postseason appearance and third straight.
Franklin (9-1) and Trotwood-Madison (7-3) also are in an area-loaded D-III, Region 12 playoff field. Upstart Greenville (7-3) just missed as a No. 9 seed.
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The Ohio High School Athletic Association will announce official playoff pairings for all seven divisions on Sunday. Qualifying teams must be among the top eight in each region, based on computer points.
“This is big,” Steneman said. “No one has ever lost faith in this team. It feels good to turn it around. Now, everyone is clicking and believing in each other.”
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