The Dublin Coffman High School football team had a heartbreaking end to its season, but has high hopes for next fall.
The fourth-seeded Shamrocks surrendered 21 points in the fourth quarter to visiting Olentangy in a 28-24 loss Nov. 3 in the opening round of the Division I, Region 2 playoffs.
The fifth-seeded Braves scored two touchdowns in the final 3 minutes, 44 seconds, including the game-winning 33-yard pass from quarterback Riley Bruening to Jace Middleton with 27 seconds left.
"That's the second game we have lost like that this year," 17th-year coach Mark Crabtree said, referring to a 34-32 loss to Gahanna on Sept. 22 in which the Lions scored the winning touchdown with 1:31 left. "You have to give credit to them. They made the plays when they needed to.
"I felt like we were in control for the whole game until the final three or four minutes. We made some mistakes defensively and on special teams that cost us, but that's football."
The Shamrocks finished 8-3 overall and won the OCC-Central Division title, going 5-0 to finish ahead of Hilliard Davidson (4-1), Central Crossing, Marysville and Upper Arlington (all 2-3) and Westland (0-5).
"If you would put our goals in order, the No. 1 goal would be to win in Week 1 and then to win a league title going into the playoffs, and we did both of those," said Crabtree, whose team defeated Perrysburg 45-0 on Aug. 25 in its season opener. "Then it's to move on in the playoffs and compete for a state championship. We made it, but we didn't advance. Unfortunately, that's how it goes sometimes."
Senior linebacker Griffin Hoak shared league co-Player of the Year honors with Westland's Ousmane Dabo, UA's Dante Landolfi and Marysville's Tommy Rush.
Hoak was one of 24 seniors for the Shamrocks. Among the others were Cole Bagozzi (DL; first-team all-league), Jeslord Boateng (LB; first-team all-league), Luke Crabtree (LB; first-team all-league), Darius Cummings (RB/DL; first-team all-league), Jordan Drye (K; first-team all-league), Marcus Ernst (QB; second-team all-league), Sam Hackett (OL; second-team all-league), Kaleb Holcomb (TE; first-team all-league), Danny Kinzeler (OL; first-team all-league), Max Koehler (OL; second-team all-league), Cam Scott (RB; second-team all-league) and Gavin Sturdivant (RB; honorable mention all-league).
"We had a great group of seniors who were a pleasure to work with," coach Crabtree said. "They worked hard, they were determined, and I can't say enough about them. I think some of that filtered down into the juniors and sophomores and will make them better in the coming seasons."
Ernst was 84-for-152 passing for 1,194 yards with seven touchdowns and six interceptions. Scott led the team in rushing with 973 yards and 15 touchdowns on 194 carries, and Sturdivant added 392 yards and six scores on 68 carries.
Junior wide receiver Alex Dluzynski led the team with 18 receptions for 238 yards. Junior linebacker Ryan Hamilton was second-team all-league, and freshman defensive back A.J. Kirk was special mention all-league.
"We have high hopes for next year," Hamilton said. "We know we can have a good season and we have a lot of good players coming back."
Sophomore wide rec-eiver/running back Mike Drennen missed all but four games with a foot injury. He had 12 catches for 179 yards and one touchdown.
Juniors Eric Feng, Josh Pittro and Zach Zinser are expected to return on the offensive line, while six starters are expected back on defense.
"We should have our entire secondary back with (juniors) Dustin Drye and Kameron Meadows at safety and A.J. Kirk and (sophomore) Cam Kirk at corner," coach Crabtree said. "Ryan Hamilton started at linebacker and (junior) Gurbaksh Gill started on the line with (junior) Tate Isaly playing a lot of minutes for us there."