During its first matchup with Coldwater, the Hartley High School football team gave up an interception for a touchdown, a fumble recovery for a touchdown and an interception that set up another score and lost 41-16 on Sept. 6 at home.
Miscues aside, the way the Cavaliers moved the ball throughout the third quarter and during the early portion of the fourth to flip a 16-13 deficit into a sizeable lead might have been equally disconcerting to the Hawks.
The positive side of that scenario for Hartley is that it has a better handle of what it should take to avenge its only loss when the teams play for the Division V state title at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon.
Coldwater, which beat Kirtland 10-9 for the championship a year ago after losing three consecutive state finals, is 12-2 after defeating West Jefferson 35-10 in a state semifinal Nov. 30 at Piqua. The Cavaliers also won titles in 2005 and 2007.
Hartley, which won the Division IV state title in 2010 and was a state semifinalist in that division last season, is 13-1 and looking for the third state title in program history.
The Hawks beat Akron Manchester 49-22 in a state semifinal Nov. 30 at Arlin Field in Mansfield.
"(Coldwater) scored two touchdowns when our offense turned it over (Sept. 6)," said senior Austin Kirkbride, who starts on the offensive line and had an interception against Manchester. "The key to winning the game is just holding on to the football."
"It's not been good when we've had turnovers, but it's always that way no matter who you play," coach Brad Burchfield said. "They have an unbelievable player at quarterback who does everything on both sides of the ball."
The player Burchfield was referring to is junior Brody Hoying, who has rushed for 1,713 yards and 30 touchdowns and completed 130 of 222 passes for 1,820 yards with 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
The leading receiver in Coldwater's spread offense is senior Adam Klosterman, who has 40 catches for 724 yards and eight touchdowns.
Hartley rushed for 518 yards and attempted just two passes against Manchester, as senior running back Sam Mackowiak led with 220 yards rushing and four touchdowns. He has rushed for 2,043 yards and 29 touchdowns overall.
Senior quarterback Jared Brandewie was intercepted twice by Coldwater but has completed 68 of 98 passes for 1,330 yards with 15 touchdowns and only three interceptions on the season.
Hartley also has utilized the speed of seniors Jacob Mercier and Alonzo Saxton, who had touchdown runs of 75 and 85 yards, respectively, Nov. 30.
"We felt like we had a chance to win (the first time against Coldwater), but at the end of the day they played better than us," Burchfield said. "They play harder than anybody else we've played, they expect to win and they've got a great tradition.
"We're excited, but expectations are always high with us. We expect to have a shot at the state title. We're appreciative and we're excited, but when you're at Hartley, you expect to be up there with the very best."
Wrestling team eyeing state berths
With two individual state qualifiers and several other returnees from a squad that finished one match shy of advancing to the state team tournament in Division III, the wrestling team expects success.
"I think I've got at least two or three state qualifiers on this team," coach Kevin Petrella said. "We made it to the regional final in the state dual tournament last year and we should have enough to get to St. John Arena."
The top returnees are senior Grant Rathburn (138 pounds) and junior Kristopher Hill (113). Rathburn went 1-2 at 132 in the individual state tournament to finish 35-12 and Hill went 3-3 to place sixth at 113 and finish 36-11.
Other key seniors should be Jacob Croswell (160), Trey Hampton (182), Patrick Keefe (145) and Patrick Moran (132).
Junior Nate Jula (170) and sophomores Jared Croswell (195/220), Josh Heinmiller (120), Tyler Sweeney (heavyweight) and Luke Wulf (106) also should contribute.
Junior Mateo Saxton (160/170) could be another contributor when he returns from a football injury. Junior Jack Zang, who went 2-2 at district at 145 a year ago, isn't expected to compete because of a knee injury that occurred in football.
Last season, Hartley took second (238) in the CCL tournament behind St. Charles (263) and Jacob Croswell, Jared Croswell and Wulf joined Hill and Rathburn as district qualifiers.
In the state team tournament, Hartley upset top-seeded West Jefferson 39-33 to advance to the Region 22 final, where it fell 44-16 at Northridge.
The Hawks are competing in seven tournaments, including the Greater Miami Valley Wrestling Association Invitational on Dec. 27 and 28 at Wright State in a field that includes 13-time defending state champion St. Paris Graham.