Wayne’s dream football season wasn’t supposed to end this way. Not in intermittent snow squalls on the frozen tundra that doubled as Marv Moorehead Stadium here Saturday night.
But it did. The Warriors share the fate of every other high school team that isn’t still chasing a state championship.
Top-seeded Hilliard Davidson saw to that, landing an impressive 37-7 knockout of Wayne in a Division I, Region 2 semifinal before about 5,000 shivering spectators.
What had served Wayne (11-2) so well this season was, well, seemingly stuck in a deep freeze.
The Warriors defense never seemed to solve Davidson’s simple yet effective offensive scheme of running off tackle and passing when needed.
The Warriors offense, so explosive in blowing out Hilliard Darby 37-7 and Dublin Coffman 31-10 in two previous playoff wins, was all but unplugged.
Turnovers, which the Warriors seemed to be allergic to this season, made a full frontal assault. There were interceptions (three), a lost fumble and enough blown assignments and mental mistakes to undermine the best of schemes.
Credit Davidson (13-0) for inducing much of that Wayne chaos.
“We knew if we came up here and made mistakes and didn’t execute, they’d take full advantage of it and they did,” Wayne coach Jay Minton said. “That’s what they do. They’re not fancy. They just beat you with their execution. We didn’t play like we did the first couple of playoff games and the last part of the year.”
So it’s Davidson that advances, in pursuit of another state title to go with its 2009 and ’06 D-I state championships. The Wildcats will play defending D-I state champ Moeller (12-1) in Saturday’s state semifinals. Moeller advanced with an epic 35-26 defeat of previously unbeaten Colerain at Mason on Saturday.
Wayne went deeper into the playoffs than any of the other four area teams. And the Greater Western Ohio Conference Central Division champs did it without a collection of stars, unlike the 2010 state runner-up team that featured the celebrated Braxton Miller at quarterback.
But there are emerging players for the Warriors to build upon, especially after breakout seasons by junior QB D’Mitrik Trice and junior wideout Chad Swanson. Trice speared Swanson with a 13-yard scoring strike to put Wayne up 7-0 in the first quarter. The Davidson defense made certain that wouldn’t happen again.
Swanson finished with seven catches for 78 yards and that TD.
“The weather was a bit of a struggle,” said Trice, who completed 13 of 25 passes for 133 yards but was intercepted three times. “It was the first time that we had to face the wind and cold like that and it did affect us. Next year we can be even as strong as this team and make another state run. We’ve got a strong senior class coming up.”