Tasked with producing a goal in elementary school, Anna senior Riley Huelskamp’s answer was obvious even years ago.
“Win a state title,” Huelskamp said.
He delivered. So did Anna.
Feuled by a dominant defense and an offensive avalanche from Huelskamp and fellow senior Bart Bixler, Anna secured the school’s 10th state title and first in football Friday with a convincing 48-14 victory in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division VI state final before 6,147 at Canton’s Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
»» PHOTOS: Anna vs. New Middletown Springfield
The title is the Midwest Athletic Conference’s 34th in football and 135th overall. Anna is the first Shelby County school to win a state football title. The game featured the No. 1 (Anna) and No. 2 (New Middletown Springfield) teams in the final Associated Press state poll.
“Leave no doubt,” Bixler said. “That was our motto. We wanted to leave no doubt and throughout the playoffs and regular season, we did just that — we left no doubt.”
»» PHOTOS: Trotwood-Madison vs. Mansfield Senior
Huelskamp rushed for 146 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries and added two interceptions on defense, one of which he returned 32 yards for a touchdown. Named the Ohio Prep Sports Writers Association D-VI state offensive player of the year earlier this week, Huelskamp finished the season with 2,651 yards rushing and 44 touchdowns.
Bixler, named first team All-Ohio as well, lit up New Middletown Springfield for 168 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 18 carries. He also finished 3-for-5 passing for 51 yards and a touchdown. Bixler accounted for 44 touchdowns this season.
Huelskamp and Bixler averaged nine yards a carry in the final.
»» RELATED: Trotwood-Madison wins state title
“Both backs are good, but it still starts with the offensive line,” New Middletown Springfield head coach Sean Guerriero said. “We knew it was going to be a challenge to tackle them.”
Anna didn’t face the same dilemma.
»» RELATED: State final MAC attack
Defensively, the Rockets, who ended the season plus-25 in turnover margin, forced four turnovers (which led to 20 points) and held New Middletown Springfield to 21 yards rushing on 26 carries. The Tigers had one rushing yard on 22 attempts after three quarters. Forced to throw the ball, New Middletown Springfield quarterback Beau Brungard threw a season-high 35 passes. He completed 17 for 213 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
“One of the hardest parts was their speed,” New Middletown Springfield senior offensive lineman Corey Hatton said. “They came off the ball and slanted a lot and we knew that, but what they surprised us with is we trained for them to show their blitzes and in this game they showed them late so we couldn’t get counts right and that led to free runners. Sometimes…they just overwhelmed us with too many players.”
»» RELATED: “It’s a monster challenge”
Said Anna head coach Nick Marino: “We didn’t do a ton differently, but the amount of pressure we bring puts a lot of distress on defenses. When you do that with kids that are big and can move that makes a big difference.”
Huelskamp, junior Issac Egbert and senior Will Luthman each had seven tackles. Luthman added two sacks and a forced fumble. Seniors Kameron Steward and Brandon Shannon added six tackles each.
»» RELATED: Trotwood-Madison twins deliver
“Our defense is pretty dominant in the run game and we made them one dimensional,” Marino said. “Coach (Brian) Rioch called a great game and I thought we got after them start to finish. We wanted to make sure they had to throw the football to beat us. We watched that quarterback on film and he ran all over a lot of people.”
Anna never trailed. Leading 7-0 after the first quarter and 28-14 at half, the Rockets opened the third quarter with Huelskamp’s interception return for a touchdown and then added a 20-yard touchdown run by the senior to push the advantage to 41-14. Bixler’s 1-yard touchdown run with 7:37 left produced a running clock for Anna for the 12th time this season.
»» RELATED: Legacy at work for Trotwood players
The win also marked the 13th time in 15 games the Rockets scored 40 points or more. New Middletown Springfield had not allowed more than 28 points in a game.
Anna, which started its program in 1999, played its first varsity schedule a year later and joined the MAC in 2005, was just 2-11 in its previous postseason trips. The Rockets went 5-0 this season with 22 seniors.
»» RELATED: It’s state championship week
“Before the season we got together as seniors said we wanted to do something that no other class has ever done before,” Huelskamp said. “We wanted to play 15 weeks and win a state title. We did that today.”
Added senior Malachi Minnich: ‘We brought it home.”
»» RELATED: All-Area football teams
»» RELATED: Anna eliminates Mechanicsburg in state semi
»» PHOTOS: Anna vs. Mechanicsburg, state semi
»» RELATED: Trotwood OK with boys basketball delay
»» RELATED: All-Area football teams
»» RELATED: Trotwood-Madison returns to playoff form
»» RELATED: Final football power rankings
»» RELATED: MAC teams state poll champs
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