In games in which the CCL championship and the Division III, Region 11 title were on the line, the Hartley football team scored touchdowns late in the fourth quarter to earn victories.
The Hawks were in the same position against Trotwood-Madison in a state semifinal Nov. 29 at London, but were unable to pull out the win.
Hartley, which was in the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season and was making its 10th appearance in a state semifinal, lost 24-19 to finish 12-2 overall.
The Hawks trailed 14-0 after the first quarter, 17-0 at halftime and 24-0 through three quarters before scoring 19 points in the fourth.
Senior running back Jalan January scored three touchdowns on runs of 1, 1 and 2 yards to help bring Hartley back. Senior Angelo Evans set up the third score by recovering an onside kick at the Rams' 44 with 3 minutes, 40 seconds left.
On the Hawks' final possession, senior quarterback Miles Fleming was intercepted at the Trotwood-Madison 2-yard line on fourth-and-25 from the Rams' 45 with 32.7 seconds remaining.
Trotwood-Madison improved to 11-3 and will play Mansfield Senior for the state title Friday, Dec. 6, at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.
Hartley's other loss came against Division IV playoff qualifier Clarksville Clinton-Massie, 24-14 on Sept. 27.
"The culture of the school is incredible and the program tries to be a reflection of it," coach Brad Burchfield said. "All the tenets of why the teams win are evidence of it. After we lose to Clinton-Massie, no one is quitting and no one is blaming. When we win, it's not game 7 of the World Series. It's part of the culture and the growth and development. We've had the same coaching staff here for a long time. This is the standard of excellence we're always going to have."
Hartley beat DeSales 20-13 on Oct. 31 to finish 3-0 in the CCL and earn its third consecutive league title.
Then as the No. 1 seed for Region 11, the Hawks beat eighth-seeded London 14-8 on Nov. 8 at home, fourth-seeded Granville 35-13 on Nov. 15 at Watkins Memorial and second-seeded Jonathan Alder 27-14 on Nov. 22 at Hilliard Darby to set up their first matchup with Trotwood-Madison.
Hartley, which had lost in the Region 11 final in 2017 and in a regional semifinal last season, was in a state semifinal in Division III for the first time. The state titles the Hawks won in 1986 under Dick Geyer and in 2010, '15 and '16 under Burchfield all were in Division IV.
"It's been hard," Burchfield said. "It's been great. We have a great football team. We have unbelievable kids. We've kind of grown up with these guys, so we're really happy and really proud that we've been able to practice this long with them and be around them. It's a great group of kids and we have a lot of fun. We've had some resilient victories, and that doesn't happen by accident.
"(To be) in (a) Division III (state semifinal), I'm really proud. A few years ago, we were in Division V. (Division III is) harder. I can feel the leaning, the tiredness, the brutality. Numbers matter in football, there's no question. We're really proud of the position we've been in."
The Hawks are losing 17 seniors, led by the district Defensive Player of the Year in linebacker Mason Sawyer and three other first-team all-district honorees in Fleming, January and linebacker KiRon Anderson.
January, who rushed for 145 yards on 45 carries against Trotwood-Madison, finished the season with 2,133 yards rushing and 30 touchdowns.
Sawyer, who also saw time at running back, and Fleming both rushed for eight touchdowns and Fleming threw for six scores. Fleming is a Minnesota commit.
Other key seniors included second-team all-district offensive lineman Dion Drake, two second-team all-district defensive backs in Evans and George Dunor, second-team all-district defensive lineman Kenyon Davis and starting offensive lineman Sammy Ray.
Junior offensive lineman Jake Skelly was first-team all-district, while juniors Sumo Kesselly (LB) and Marcelis Parker (LB/RB) and sophomore Daniel Tooson (TE/DL) were special mention all-district.
Anderson, Davis, Dunor, Fleming, January, Sawyer and Tooson were first-team all-league and Drake, Evans, Kesselly, Parker and Skelly were second-team all-league.
Others key contributors eligible to return include juniors James Crenshaw (LB), Ryan Hawk (K), Kason Sunderland (DB/WR) and Tony Thivener (OL/LB) and sophomores Richard Kenny (RB/WR/DB) and Trey Saunders (WR/DB).
"(The senior class had) a lot of leaders," Parker said. "They push us to our best. It's a strong program, a great program with great leaders every year. We play for one another."