High School Football: Versailles falls short in state-title quest

CANTON — Versailles fell just short in its quest for its eighth state football championship.

Kirtland took a 19-7 first half lead and never looked back, beating the Tigers 32-15 in the Division VI state championship game on Friday at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.

Senior quarterback Michael Osborne rushed for 131 yards and a touchdown and threw for 124 yards and a touchdown for Versailles (13-2).

Versailles, appearing in its 11th state championship game, was seeking its second title in three seasons. The Tigers beat Kirtland 20-16 in 2021.

“This has been a very special year,” said Tigers coach Ryan Jones. “I wouldn’t want to take anybody other than these guys into a football game. I‘m extremely proud of the way they’ve conducted themselves on and off the field all year and representing Tiger Ball in a tremendous fashion.”

Kirtland took an early 7-0 lead when Hornets senior Gino Blasini recovered a fumble in the end zone. They extended their lead to 13-0 on a 6-yard run by sophomore Will Beers with 3:07 remaining in the first quarter.

Versailles responded early in the second quarter. Osborne hit senior AJ Griesdorn on a 31-yard TD pass to make it 13-7.

The Tigers wouldn’t get any closer. Beers returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown — setting a state record in D-VI — to give Kirtland a 19-7 lead.

“It’s a quick high to a quick low so you try to recover, make sure we keep our focus,” Jones said. “We’ve talked about it all year that there’s going to be highs and lows in these games, especially when you’re going up against a good opponent.”

Versailles drove the ball into Hornets territory multiple times, but were unable to come away with points.

“(These games) are always going to come down to a few plays here or there or at least it seems that way,” Jones said. “You have a chance to make a play and maybe you do or you don’t, but a lot of that has to do with the opponent. (Kirtland) made some good plays offensively and defensively and it makes it harder to make those plays when you do get a chance.”

Hornets senior Rocco Alfieri scored on a 2-yard in the third quarter to make it 25-7. In the fourth quarter, Beers fumbled the ball into the end zone and senior tight end Will Sayle recovered to make it 32-7 with about three minutes remaining, sealing Kirtland’s seventh state championship in program history.

The Tigers drove down the field on their final possession, scoring on a 5-yard run by Osborne with 55 seconds remaining.

The Tigers will graduate 18 seniors, but hope the program’s postseason success will continue well into the future.

“We did it two years ago and it’s got to be the new norm for Tiger Ball,” said senior lineman Dominic Barga. “We set the bar high and the younger guys, they’ve got to keep working. They’ll be here. Hopefully they have better success than we did today, but they’ll be here.”

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