DeSales: Stallions complete memorable season as state runners-up
The DeSales football team didn’t end its season with the moment it was hoping for, but coach Ryan Wiggins expects many of the experiences that took place for his players this fall to age well.
After football was approved in August and a six-game regular season that included home-and-home contests against Watterson and Hartley was scheduled, the Stallions finished 4-1 in the CCL to win their first league championship since 2016.
As the No. 1 seed for the Division III, Region 11 playoffs, DeSales beat second-seeded Hartley 38-7 in the regional final Nov. 6 to earn a third victory this season over its league rival. The Stallions then defeated Kettering Alter 23-13 on Nov. 13 in a state semifinal to reach a title game for the first time since 2009.
Two days before the state final, Franklin County Public Health recommended that the six remaining state championship games not be played in the county, prompting the OHSAA to move the games from Fortress Obetz to Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon.
DeSales held a two-touchdown lead in the state final Nov. 21 but ended up falling 31-28 in two overtimes to Chardon to finish as a state runner-up for the sixth time.
“What a great group of guys,” said Wiggins, whose team finished 9-2 overall. “They fought all summer, not knowing what would lay ahead. We had to play through a really tough CCL schedule to be CCL champs, regional champs. To play in the state championship game, you’re playing in the final game so that’s all you can do. When these guys look back on the season and on 2020 in general … what great memories. Great friendships.”
Senior Quintell Quinn, an Ohio University recruit who starred the last two seasons at running back and linebacker, closed his prep career with his best game of the season statistically as he rushed for 216 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries against Chardon. For the season, he rushed for 1,566 yards and 27 touchdowns and added 85.5 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and three sacks.
Quinn earned first-team all-league honors along with seniors Billy Cain IV (OL/DL), Jordan Johnson (WR/DB), Owen Kirk (OL), Matthew Stewart (DL/TE) and Jason Velazquez II (LB/WR) and junior Jonathan Thompson (LB/RB). Seniors J.J. Baughman (K), Jackson Hartman (OL/DL), Will Hast (OL) and Joshua Martin-Hayden (OL/DL) and sophomore Nicky Pentello (DB/QB) were second-team all-league.
Baughman, Cain, Thompson and Velazquez were first-team all-district, Hast and Stewart were second-team all-district and Johnson, Kirk and Pentello were special mention all-district.
Johnson had six catches for 145 yards and one touchdown in the state final, giving him 31 receptions for 625 yards and five scores for the season.
Senior wide receiver Nathan Barber was the second-leading receiver with 14 catches for 214 yards and one score.
Velazquez led the Stallions in tackles with 93 and had 11 tackles for loss and two sacks. Stewart had 59.5 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks, and Cain added 33 tackles.
Baughman made nine field goals and 42 extra points.
“We had (Chardon) beat and it’s just heartbreaking,” Cain said. “It’s a great group. We’ve been together for four years from all different places and we just love each other. It’s a family.”
Wiggins was named district Coach of the Year, and Thompson was the district’s Defensive Player of the Year.
Junior quarterback Whit Hobgood, Pentello, Thompson and junior lineman Jalen Carpenter will be returning starters on offense.
Hobgood completed 48 of 99 passes for 826 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for 212 yards and two scores.
Pentello missed half of the regular season with an injury. He rushed 50 times for 209 yards and two scores and threw for 80 yards and one touchdown.
Freshman running back Nasir Phillips could be in line for more playing time after rushing 39 times for 196 yards and two touchdowns.
Junior wide receiver Kyle Nicely had one reception in the state final.
Thompson rushed for 690 yards and six touchdowns on 96 carries. He had 10 tackles, five tackles for loss and one sack in the state final and finished with 72 tackles, 31 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks.
Pentello had five interceptions, including one in the state final, and 24 tackles.
Freshman linebacker Max Shulaw was the leading tackler in the state final with 12.5 to give him 59.5 for the season along with 4.5 tackles for loss.
Juniors Jackson Carawan (DB, 32 tackles), Ayan Comedy (DB, 31 tackles) and Rechee Smith (DB, 41.5 tackles, 5 tackles for loss) also were key contributors.
Juniors Jackson Gantz and Braden Jehn and sophomores Seamus Bonte and Jonathan Maas were part of the team’s linebacking corps.
Junior Nathaniel Wallace-Dowling averaged 35.1 yards on 38 punts, with 14 landing inside the 20.
“I love our effort and I love the way our team plays and fights,” Wiggins said.
•Record: 9-2 overall
•CCL standings: DeSales (4-1), Hartley (3-2), Watterson (2-3), St. Charles (0-3)
•Seniors lost: Nathan Barber, J.J. Baughman, Billy Cain IV, Noah Gales, Jackson Hartman, Will Hast, Henoke Johnson, Jordan Johnson, Owen Kirk, Keagan Lilienthal, Joshua Martin-Hayden, Ryan McCann, Quintell Quinn, Matthew Stewart, Jason Velazquez II and Antonio Williams
•Key returnees: Jackson Carawan, Jalen Carpenter, Ayan Comedy, Whit Hobgood, Nicky Pentello, Nasir Phillips, Max Shulaw, Rechee Smith and Jonathan Thompson
•Postseason: Defeated Granville 56-35; def. Jonathan Alder 31-6; def. Hartley 38-7; def. Kettering Alter 23-13; lost to Chardon 31-28 (2OT) in Division III state final