Most of the key players on Wayne’s football team earned nicknames long ago. Antwand Wilson is the exception.
“He calls himself The Diesel,” shrugged Warriors coach Jay Minton. “It’s self-proclaimed.”
And here’s why. The Diesel plowed through the heart of Springboro’s defense, bringing yet another offensive dimension in Wayne’s convincing 52-21 victory in a Division I, Region 2 high school football second-round playoff game at Centerville on Saturday night.
The victory vaults Wayne (12-0) into next week’s regional semifinals against Hilliard Davidson (11-1), which defeated Upper Arlington 17-10 also on Saturday. The neutral site will be announced today.
It was a matchup of the Greater Western Ohio Conference’s two best D-I teams. Wayne had the No. 1 defense and Springboro (9-3) the No. 1 offense. Sure enough, Springboro initially hung with Wayne behind the talented arm of senior quarterback Elijah Cunningham. The Bowling Green commit completed 24 of 45 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns.
Alex Feldman led Springboro with nine catches for 126 yards. But the Panthers had just 11 rushing yards.
And Springboro had no answer for The Diesel. Wilson produced 194 yards rushing on just nine whacks and scored on runs of 73 and 4 yards. A powerful 5-feet-9 and 220 pounds, he was the perfect balance for speedster Daryl McCleskey, who had five catches for 93 yards and a score and also snared an interception as one of Wayne’s rare two-way players.
Wayne QB Messiah deWeaver was nearly flawless again, completing 16 of 24 throws for 316 yards and three touchdowns, including a 76-yarder to L’Christian Smith. A talented sophomore, Smith had nine catches for 192 yards.
“We all have one goal, to focus and finish,” Wilson/Diesel said. “We’re going to take this drive to next week. It feels really good, especially after this win. It was a statement game for us.”
Wayne blew open the game with a 28-point third quarter and floated in and out of a running clock its fans chanted for. The Warriors have upped their offense considerably, scoring 52, 56 and 56 points in the last three games. Springboro came within one point of matching Cincinnati Moeller for the most points scored against Wayne’s defense.
“The difference in us is this year is we’ve got a complete run game with multiple backs,” Minton said. “Our guys hung in there and didn’t panic too much. We gave up a couple drives against those guys but that’s understandable. We knew we had to counter them with some offense. You’ve got to get ahead and make them one dimensional. Then we’ve got a good shot.”
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