Jablonski: Fifteen games to remember from 22 seasons covering high school football

2023 season begins Thursday

The opening night of the high school football season often brings beautiful sunsets, creating silhouettes of fans standing in the top rows of the stands. The sun doesn’t stick around all season. By Week 10, the games start in darkness with the Friday night lights providing the atmosphere.

I know the progression of the season well. This is my 23rd season on the high school football beat in Ohio. I’ll celebrate with a walking taco or whatever concession stand delicacy I can find Friday when I go to Huber Heights to cover Wayne versus Fairfield on the opening night of the 2023 season.

The kids I’ll see play this season weren’t born on Sept. 1, 2001, when I covered my first game for the Springfield News-Sun. Kenton Ridge beat North 27-19 at Wittenberg’s Edwards-Maurer Field thanks to an interception in the end zone by Keil Canrell with 30 seconds remaining.

I don’t remember that game. I’ve forgotten many more games than I remember over the years. Newspapers.com helped me fill in the the blank spaces as I looked back at the best games I’ve covered over the years.

1. Oct. 26, 2001: I remember freezing in the press box on Mechanicsburg on this day as Southeastern completed a 10-0 regular season with a 28-0 rout. It was the first perfect season for the Trojans since 1983. The star of the team, Brian Cooper, told me, “This gives us a boost going into the playoffs.”

2. Oct. 25, 2002: In my second year at the News-Sun, I again saw a team complete a 10-0 season. This time, Urbana beat Tippecanoe 46-6 for its first undefeated season since 1989. “It’s so exciting, it hasn’t hit yet,” coach Dave Carroll said. Jordan Bean ran for 133 yards.

3. Nov. 3, 2006: A kicker named Pat who had kicked only PATs all season made a 26-yard field goal with 12 seconds left to give Catholic Central a 24-21 victory against Sidney Lehman Catholic at Hallinean Field in Springfield. Pat Sheehan’s kick gave the Irish a first-round playoff victory.

4. Oct. 5, 2007: Josh McKee scored four touchdowns — three on catches and one on a run — in a quarter and a half to lead Tecumseh to a 42-0 victory against Shawnee.

5. Oct. 24, 2008: Tecumseh completed its first 10-0 season since 2001 with a 54-7 victory at Kenton Ridge. Seniors Garth Gilbert and Jordan Jones celebrated by dumping a Gatorade bucket on coach Kent Massie. “When we’re 10-0, they can douse me with whatever they want,” Massie said.

6. Aug. 29, 2009: Junior Trey DePriest scored four touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime, to lead Springfield to a 35-28 season-opening victory against Hamilton. “He’s always been Superman,” linebacker Hayden Davis said of DePriest.

7. Oct. 30, 2009: Quarterback Riley Gault ran 13 yards for a touchdown on 4th-and-3 in overtime at Bellefontaine to give Tecumseh a 13-10 victory in Week 10. Tecumseh clinched a share of the Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division championship. “It means everything,” Gault said.

8. Dec. 2, 2011: Shawnee came closer than any Clark County team to winning a state championship, losing 21-14 to Youngstown Cardinal Mooney in Canton. On 4th-and-6 in the final minute, Shawnee quarterback Brad Jarzab threw a pass into the end zone, but it was broken up.

9. Nov. 3, 2012: Shawnee rallied from a 34-21 third-quarter deficit to beat Alter 42-34 in the first round of the playoffs. Alex McCrory’s 47-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter proved to be the difference. “I knew that we were going to come together when it came down to it,” McCrory said.

10. Oct. 18, 2013: Tippecanoe improved to 8-0 in what would be a 10-0 season with a 42-0 victory at Tecumseh. Jacob Hall ran for 151 yards and scored four touchdowns.

11. Oct. 20, 2018: Springfield ended a seven-game losing streak against Wayne with a 33-26 overtime victory. Raheim Moss threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Larry Stephens on the first play of overtime. Then Michael Brown-Stephens broke up a pass in the end zone to end the game. “We made history,” Springfield lineman Isaiah Gibson said.

12. Nov. 8, 2019: On a frigid night in Dublin, Springboro lost 38-31 to Dublin Jerome in five overtimes. Dublin’s Adam Booth caught a short pass on 3rd-and-7 and ran into the end zone for the go-ahead score, and Springboro couldn’t answer.

“I’m extremely proud of our kids,” Springboro coach Ryan Wilhite said. “They fought until the very end. Five overtimes? I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of a game like that.

13. Aug. 28, 2020: Cade Rice threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Markus Allen on 4th-and-19 with nine seconds left to give Northmont a 40-36 victory against Springboro in Week 1.

14. Dec. 3, 2021: Springfield reached the state championship game for the first time, fell into a 16-0 hole and lost 23-13 to Lakewood St. Edward in Canton.

15. Sept. 23, 2022: Springboro rallied from a 17-7 deficit in the fourth quarter to beat Centerville 21-17 on a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Evan Ruzzo with 14 seconds remaining.

”I just said, ‘This is right here; give it all you’ve got,’” Ruzzo said.

About the Author