Similarly to the last time the Hartley High School football team competed in a state championship game, its opponent has one of the state's richest traditions.

Similarly to the last time the Hartley High School football team competed in a state championship game, its opponent has one of the state's richest traditions.

Steubenville hasn't been to a state final since 2008 but is fifth all-time in playoff appearances with 28 and will be making its seventh state final appearance when it faces the Hawks in the Division IV state title game at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, at Ohio Stadium.

The Big Red, which improved to 13-0 with a 28-0 win over Youngstown Ursuline in a state semifinal Nov. 28, won state championships in 1984, 2005 and '06.

Hartley, which beat Middletown Fenwick 26-14 in the other state semifinal Nov. 28 at Wilmington to improve to 11-3, is making its fifth state final appearance, having won titles in 1986 and 2010.

The Hawks last played for a championship in 2013 when they lost to Coldwater 24-7 in the Division V final at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon. They also were state runners-up in 1984, falling to Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas 23-0 in the Division IV final.

Traditions aside, the task and surroundings are much different than the last time Hartley played for a title.

While the Hawks couldn't contain the running abilities of Coldwater quarterback Brody Hoying in the 2013 final, they will face a much more balanced opponent in Steubenville.

Ohio Stadium also will provide a new experience for the Hartley players, although the school has experience playing in "The 'Shoe." In 1986, the Hawks beat Castalia Margaretta 47-0 at the venue for the Division IV title.

The Hawks beat Chagrin Falls 34-13 in the Division IV final in 2010.

"It feels amazing," junior offensive lineman and linebacker Cody Kirkbride said. "We just know (Steuben-ville's) very, very good and that it's going to be a big challenge."

While Kirkbride will be playing in a state final for the first time, three of his teammates -- seniors Quri Hickman, Ryan Reed and Rian Anderson -- will be key players in a state-title game for the second time.

Hickman is in his third season as a starter at running back and linebacker. Reed started at right guard in 2013 and now starts at center, and Anderson started at cornerback and played special teams in 2013 and now starts at wide receiver and defensive back.

Hickman had 198 yards rushing and two scores on 38 carries against Fenwick, which led 14-10 entering the fourth quarter. His first touchdown came on a 1-yard run on fourth-and-goal with 3 minutes, 3 seconds left and gave the Hawks a 19-14 lead. He had a 30-yard touchdown run with 46 seconds remaining.

Hickman has more than 2,100 yards rushing and 29 touchdowns on the season.

Steubenville senior quarterback Dimitri Collaros was named Eastern District Offensive Player of the Year and has passed for more than 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns. Against Ursuline, he completed 10 of 21 passes for 127 yards and had a 13-yard touchdown reception.

Running back Johnny Blue had 134 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries against Ursuline and has rushed for more than 1,400 yards on the season.

The Big Red also has a big-play specialist on defense in free safety Dujuan Jones, who returned an interception 95 yards for a touchdown in a 42-7 win over Johnstown in a regional final Nov. 21. He also had an interception against Ursuline.

"We're really excited," Hawks junior quarterback Jake Ruby said. "We came back and fought (against Fenwick) and we're right where we're supposed to be. Everybody believes we're supposed to be here."

Bowling teams have strong returnees

The boys and girls bowling teams both have experienced players to build around under first-year coach Bob Santee.

The boys team has no seniors, but two of its top four bowlers in scoring average from last season -- juniors Zach Santee and Sam Rees -- are back to lead the way.

The girls team features senior Salmika Wairegi, who was second on the team in average last season.

The boys team opened Dec. 2 against Ready at Game of Western Columbus. Both teams compete against Columbus International on Friday, Dec. 4, at Holiday Lanes.

"We're a young team," said coach Santee, who took over for Margaret Owens, who now is serving as an assistant. "We're hoping our returning kids can hold us up and that we can be competitive with the other Catholic schools. This is my first coaching experience, but so far, so good. I think we're going to have an OK team."

The boys team, which finished 9-6 overall last season and placed sixth with the same record in the 16-team Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-Central Division behind champion Ready (15-0), has three other juniors in John Paul Amland, Connor Liden and Mark Schovan.

Sophomore Jordan Davis is another returnee, with sophomore Ryan Ruth and freshman Adam van Ooyen rounding out the team.

The girls team went 7-3 overall and had the same record in the 11-team COHSBC-Central to tie Columbus Academy for third behind Whetstone (10-0) and Northland (9-1).

Senior Monica Evans and juniors Lindsey Craft and Olivia George also are back for the Hawks. Rounding out the team are senior Sara Strapp and sophomore Carla Pena.