DeSales vs. Chardon: Stallions to face Hilltoppers’ wing-T attack in state final
Knowing exactly what it will face in the Division III state championship game Saturday, Nov. 21, at Fortress Obetz won’t necessarily guarantee a predictable night for DeSales.
The Stallions’ opponent is Chardon, which uses the wing-T as its base offense and might be running its system better than at any time in its long history using the scheme.
Former coach Bob Doyle installed the wing-T at Chardon more than four decades ago and guided the program to the Division II state championship in 1994 and a state runner-up finish in the same division in 1998.
His best player in 1998 was state Defensive Player of the Year and Mr. Football finalist Mitch Hewitt, who is in his 10th season as the Hilltoppers’ coach and has kept the offensive system intact.
“They’re really good,” Stallions coach Ryan Wiggins said. “They run a wing-T type of offense with quick-hitting stuff. Their running back has great balance and they get him out there. He hits it quick and can break tackles. They’re tough, they’re physical, their linemen are quick and they’re really precise in the way they run their wing-T offense. From what I see, they haven’t had to (pass much). They run the football and they run at will. They’ve got good backs and it’s a good scheme.”
The key cog in the offense is senior running back James Pettyjohn, who was the Northeast Lakes District Offensive Player of the Year and has rushed for 1,550 yards and 20 touchdowns.
In Chardon’s 47-7 victory over Tiffin Columbian in a state semifinal Nov. 13, Pettyjohn rushed 16 times for 231 yards and three touchdowns.
Senior quarterback Drew Fetchik had 14 rushes for 74 yards and two touchdowns and attempted only three passes, one of which was intercepted.
Junior running back Sean Carr rushed 11 times for 71 yards and one score for the Hilltoppers, who are 11-0 and in the postseason for the fifth time in six seasons.
Chardon was first in the final state poll, and DeSales was eighth.
The Stallions beat Kettering Alter 23-13 on Nov. 13 in a state semifinal at London to improve to 9-1.
Senior running back Quintell Quinn had 24 rushes for 135 yards and three touchdowns, senior quarterback Whit Hobgood rushed six times for 69 yards and junior running back Jonathan Thompson had six carries for 25 yards.
“Listening to our coaches’ game plan, trusting that it will succeed (and) staying dialed in throughout the whole week of practice (will be key),” Thompson said. “We’ve just got to play with a chip on our shoulders. We all must step up and just play as a family and together.”
Also on offense for Chardon, senior lineman Nick Fay and junior tight end Alex McDonald were first-team all-district, and Fetchik and senior lineman Matt Kloski were second-team all-district.
Senior linebacker Vince Ferrante was the district’s Defensive Player of the Year and was joined on the all-district first team by seniors Kevin Doyle (DB), Cade McDevitt (LB), Myles Mendeszoon (DL), Gavin Slife (DL), Nathanael Sulka (DB) and Brady Toth (DB). Senior Blake Barker (LB) was second-team all-district.
Hewitt was named the district’s Coach of the Year.
Wiggins hopes his defense will respond similarly to how it did against Alter.
In addition to limiting quarterback Brian Shane to 3-for-10 passing for 56 yards and running back Branden McDonald to 92 yards rushing on 20 carries, the Stallions were one of only two teams to hold the Knights under 20 points.
With DeSales leading by 10 points, the Stallions forced Alter into a three-and-out with 3 minutes, 3 seconds remaining.
Quinn, who became the program’s all-time leading rusher during the game, ran for 14 yards on fourth-and-2 from the Knights’ 43 with 1:50 to go and the Stallions were able to run out the clock.
“With Alter, they run the wishbone and option, some of that stuff that you don’t see week to week, and it’s a very good high school football offense,” Wiggins said. “It really puts defenses in a bind. We had a lot of big stops.”
DeSALES vs. CHARDON
•When: 6:15 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21
•Where: Massillon Paul Brown Tiger Stadium
•Last meeting: First meeting
•Chardon (11-0) to date: Defeated Eastlake North 42-7; def. Willoughby South 50-0; def. Chagrin Falls Kenston 37-6; def. Painesville Riverside 35-7; def. Mayfield 35-14; def. Lyndhurst Brush 55-7; def. Warren Howland 49-14; def. Geneva 57-13; def. New Philadelphia 31-0; def. Canfield 38-6; def. Tiffin Columbian 47-7
•DeSales (9-1) to date: Def. Watterson 28-22 (OT); def. Mansfield Senior 35-12; def. Hartley 24-21; lost to Watterson 35-34 (2OT); def. St. Charles 48-7; def. Hartley 16-14; def. Granville 56-35; def. Jonathan Alder 31-6; def. Hartley 38-7; def. Kettering Alter 23-13
•Top Hilltoppers: Kevin Doyle (DB), Nick Fay (OL) Vince Ferrante (LB), Cade McDevitt (LB), Alex McDonald (TE), Myles Mendeszoon (DL), James Pettyjohn (RB), Gavin Slife (DL) and Brady Toth (DB)
•Top Stallions: Nathan Barber (WR/DB), Billy Cain IV (OL/DL), Jordan Johnson (WR/DB), Jackson Hartman (OL/DL), Whit Hobgood (QB), Quintell Quinn (RB/LB), Matthew Stewart (TE/DL/LS), Jonathan Thompson (RB/LB) and Jason Velazquez II (WR/LB)