Wayne vs. Northmont II? We all can only be so lucky. Because the only way that’s happening is in a playoff regional final.
“We might have to turn around and play them again, but we get home-field advantage and that’s a big thing that we always wanted,” said Wayne quarterback D’Mitrik Trice following a defensive-minded 14-7 defeat of visiting Northmont Friday night. “We didn’t get that last year but we got it this year.”
And how. The Warriors shot up the Division I, Region 2 field to a likely No. 2 spot with the win, bumping Centerville to No. 3. All three Greater Western Ohio Conference Central Division teams were already assured playoffs spots next week.
The Warriors (9-1) made their leap of playoff fate by collecting a massive amount of second-level points by snapping the Thunberbolts’ (8-2) eight-game win streak.
A shootout seemed imminent. With Trice and Northmont counterpart Graham Oberer having breakout seasons, Wayne averaged more than 41 points, Northmont 38. Instead, defense and hard knocks ruled.
There were defensive stars galore. Wayne’s Andrew McConnell and Tobias Gilliam each picked off Oberer. Wayne linebacker Dorian Hendrix blocked a field-goal attempt. Northmont’s Diamond Jones had seven solo tackles and a couple of sacks. Teammate Terry Ramsey was unblockable at defensive end.
It was a throw-back defensive effort from both teams. It also was the kind of play that wins championships, which Wayne did by celebrating a GWOC Central title afterward at midfield.
“Two great offenses got shut down by two better defenses,” shrugged Northmont head coach Lance Schneider. “They just made a couple more plays than we did, that’s all it comes down to. There’s a lot of good players on the defensive side of the ball for those two teams.”
Trice completed 21 of 29 passes for 179 yards. He had scoring lobs to Tristan Davis (18 yards) and the game-winner to Trey McFadden (21) midway through the fourth quarter. That broke a 7-all deadlock following Oberer’s 3-yard TD flip to Jonte Broski as the third quarter ended.
A whiffed punt (Wayne) and multiple sacks ruled this night. It sure wasn’t offense; Wayne had a not-so-robust 215 total yards, Northmont just 201. That’s a good quarter for these teams in some shootouts.
Still, both are guaranteed another game in the upcoming one-and-done second season. Nothing beats that.
“I love our kids,” Wayne coach Jay Minton gushed. “I told them back in two-a-days that this is a special group. They believed it all the way and I hope they keep believing it.”