Most Dramatic State Tournament Events
Nos. 6-10: Athletes shine on biggest stage
One of the reasons the sports staff at ThisWeek Community Newspapers loves high school athletics is the memories that are created year after year in the various state tournaments.
Only select individuals and teams reach that level, and an even smaller group participates in an event that continues to transcend as the years go by.
In our fourth-annual summer series that follows "20 Years of Upsets" in 2009, the "Most Dominating Teams" in 2010 and the "Top Individual Performances" a year ago, we are chronicling the "Most Dramatic State Tournament Events" since the ThisWeek era began in 1990.
Discussions were held among the experienced staff at ThisWeek, as well as with colleague Steve Blackledge of The Columbus Dispatch, and we arrived at a Top 10 along with 10 honorable mentions.
Beginning July 12, there will be a retrospective article on each of the top five performances, with one article running each week through Aug. 9 when the most dramatic state tournament event is revealed.
So what makes one event more dramatic than another?
A football game determined by a late touchdown, a soccer game won on a penalty kick, a baseball or softball game won in a team's final at-bat or a basketball game decided by a last-second shot are all good examples.
In individual sports, one athlete outdueling another can create some of the greatest dramatic moments.
Factors such as setting a state-tournament record also were considered.
So without further ado, below are Nos. 10-6 of the most dramatic state tournament events since 1990, with an honorable mention list in chronological order in the accompanying box:
10. Upper Arlington vs. Solon, Division I football championship game (Dec. 2, 2000)
Led by Ohio's Mr. Football in senior tailback and safety Jeff Backes, the Golden Bears won 15-9 at Fawcett Stadium in Canton to give central Ohio its first big-school title since the inception of the playoffs in 1972.
With Solon at the UA 22-yard line with 46 seconds left, Backes intercepted Comets quarterback Jay Price at the goal line to seal the victory and a 15-0 record for the Bears. Backes also rushed for 183 yards and two touchdowns.
9. Pickerington vs. North Canton Hoover, Division I softball championship game (June 5, 1999)
Pickerington lost 2-1 in a state-tournament record 13 innings at Brookside Park in Ashland.
The game was scoreless until Carrie Eneix reached on a two-out triple and scored on a single by Stacy Scholz that gave Pickerington a 1-0 lead in the 12th.
Hoover tied it in the bottom of the 12th on a pair of tricky bounces that were ruled errors. The Vikings then won their second title in a row in the 13th on three consecutive two-out singles.
Hoover pitcher Katie Chain struck out a state-tournament record 21 batters and Pickerington's Kate Leary had 20 strikeouts.
8. Gahanna Lincoln's Jake Blankenship beats Olentangy Liberty brothers Joey and Chris Uhle in pole vault, Division I track and field meet (June 4, 2011)
Ohio's three all-time best competitors in the pole vault had an historic battle at Ohio State, with Blankenship clearing 17 feet to break the meet and Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium record. Joey Uhle, who had cleared 17-0 earlier in the postseason, placed second (16-6) and Chris Uhle took third (16-0). It was the first time in state history that three vaulters cleared 16 feet.
7. DeSales vs. Akron Hoban, Division II baseball championship game (June 4, 2011)
With two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning, DeSales shortstop Brennan Schlabig's throw to first baseman Brad Bohus barely beat Hoban's Kolin McMillen to seal a 9-8 win at Huntington Park, giving the Stallions their first state championship since 1979.
Catcher Jack Miller tagged out Hoban's Joshua Young trying to steal home with the score tied at 7 in the fifth inning. Then in the sixth, Zak DeCamp hit a two-run home run to give the Stallions a 9-7 lead.
The game capped an improbable run to the state championship, as DeSales had no seniors and its roster featured new starters at nearly every position.
"Really, we had to learn throughout the year," Schlabig said at the time. "We played some close games and knew (through those close games) that everyone had each other's back."
6. Hilliard Davidson vs. Cleveland Glenville, Division I football championship game (Dec. 5, 2009)
Davidson's Spencer Delande scored on a 2-yard option pitch with 1:04 remaining and quarterback Jake Trubiano ran in the two-point conversion to give the Wildcats a 16-15 victory at Fawcett Stadium.
Trubiano, who was lined up at tailback, took an option pitch and cut inside for the winning points. He had set up the touchdown with a 73-yard run to the Glenville 3-yard line.
"Our kids just find the heart and the willpower to persevere and keep us in it and put ourselves to a point where we can make some big plays when we need to," coach Brian White said after the game.
The state championship was the second in four seasons for the Wildcats, who defeated Mentor 36-35 in double overtime in the 2006 final.