A year after missing the Division I playoffs, the Dublin Coffman High School football team recaptured its place among the area's elite programs this fall.

A year after missing the Division I playoffs, the Dublin Coffman High School football team recaptured its place among the area's elite programs this fall.

Still, season-ending losses always hurt, especially those that come at the hands of Hilliard Davidson. Playing in a regional final for the third time in four years, the Shamrocks were doomed by a few uncharacteristic mistakes, as the Wildcats prevailed 22-7 last Saturday at Upper Arlington.

Coffman turned over the ball three times, and two of those turnovers led to Davidson touchdowns. The third killed a promising drive midway through the fourth quarter.

"You just can't make those kind of mistakes and expect to survive," coach Mark Crabtree said. "I don't see it happening very often at this level of the playoffs. But credit Davidson again, because they did a good job playing defense, a good job playing offense, playing ball-control and that type of thing."

Coffman, which had the fifth undefeated regular season in program history, finished 12-1.

The Shamrocks, playing without injured middle linebacker Brett Buehler, slowed the Wildcats' offense but were not able to shut it down the way they did in their regular-season meeting Oct. 16, when Coffman won 10-7. No Davidson back gained more than 84 yards last Saturday, but as a team, the Wildcats rushed 53 times for 238 yards, a 4.5 yard average. Their only pass came on a faked extra-point attempt in the fourth quarter, as Jake Trubiano connected with Pat Dougherty to make the score 22-7.

Coffman's offense gained 281 yards but had trouble sustaining drives. The Shamrocks' lone touchdown came on a 72-yard pass from Colton Caldwell to E.J. Williams in the second quarter.

"It's clich to say, but turnovers in games like this are the determining factor," Davidson coach Brian White said. "And obviously it was a help to us. Do we win without them turning the ball over? I don't know, but I'll take the turnovers and a win anytime."

Despite the loss, the season was one of the better ones for Coffman during Crabtree's nine years. The Shamrocks rolled through the regular season undefeated with their average margin of victory being 32.3 points. They also held the top spot in ThisWeek's Super 7 poll for the final seven weeks.

Coffman beat Springfield 31-12 in the first round of the Region 3 playoffs Nov. 7 and edged Westerville South 21-19 in a regional semifinal on Nov. 14.

The Shamrocks won the OCC-Central Division championship at 5-0, finishing ahead of Davidson (4-1), Thomas Worthington (2-3), Upper Arlington (2-3), Worthington Kilbourne (2-3) and Hilliard Darby (0-5).

Coffman loses a significant senior class of 31 players. Among the most crucial losses on offense are quarterback Colton Caldwell, running back Shaun Jones, receivers E.J. Williams, Joey Phelan and Steven Carpenter and offensive linemen Sam Schulte, Jay Howard, Chad Doan and Lucas Rodriguez.

Caldwell started at tight end for seven games before taking over at quarterback after junior Cole Stoudt suffered a broken leg in a 30-7 win over Darby on Oct. 9. Caldwell completed 69 percent of his passes for 1,261 yards and 13 touchdowns with four interceptions.

Williams was the leading receiver with 40 catches for 661 yards and nine touchdowns. Jones rushed for 1,144 yards and 11 touchdowns this season and finished his three-year career with 2,693 yards.

Coffman's defense was one of the best in the area and might have been the best in program history, allowing just 6.5 points per game. Between defense and special teams, the Shamrocks scored five touchdowns -- just five fewer than they allowed. Key losses on defense include Buehler, cornerback Conner Viers, safeties Jimmy Happ and John Wurm, linebacker Kyle Frazier and linemen Mike Brusadin and Corey Durthaler.

Buehler, who had 100 tackles in the regular season before suffering a season-ending foot injury against Springfield, was named Division I district Defensive Player of the Year. Viers and Happ tied for the team lead in interceptions with five apiece. Viers also caught three touchdown passes and returned a punt for a touchdown.

Although Coffman was senior-laden this fall, there will be returnees who should be able to keep the Shamrocks among the area's elite.

Stoudt, a two-year starter, is expected to return at quarterback after throwing for 1,151 yards and 15 touchdowns in just over six games. Also on the offensive side, sophomore wide receiver Clayton Vranic and junior running back Ezra Kim saw significant action. Vranic had 12 catches for 144 yards and returned three punts for 45 yards and Kim rushed for 267 and five touchdowns.

Defensively, junior ends Brad Carrico and Max Phelps and junior cornerback Stacy Woodford are among those eligible to return. Junior linemen Alex Harrell and Blaine Riegle also saw playing time.

Next game

•Record: 12-1 overall, 5-0 (first) in OCC-Central

•Seniors lost: Brett Buehler, Jake Buehler, Mike Brusadin, Colton Caldwell, Steven Carpenter, Kyle Clinton, Nate Davakis, Chad Doan, Corey Durthaler, Chris Fannin, Kyle Frazier, Sam Gans, Spencer Geissel, Trevor Hansen, Jimmy Happ, Ryan Harness, Jay Howard, Shaun Jones, Josh Lee, Alex Minardo, Joey Phelan, Tyler Robinson, Lucas Rodriguez, Sam Schulte, Johnny Sharp, Maxton Smith, Conner Viers, Jacob Walter, E.J. Williams, Alex Wolf and John Wurm

•Key returnees: Brad Carrico, Connor Lucas, Max Phelps, Cole Stoudt, Clayton Vranic and Stacy Woodford

Online Coverage

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