THE BLADE/ZACK CONKLE
For the third straight season, Whitmer will be moving on to the Division I state football semifinals.
The third-ranked Panthers (13-0) earned that berth Saturday night by jumping out early on 10th-ranked Massillon Washington, and cruising to a 49-16 victory over the Tigers in a Region 2 final at Mansfield’s Arlin Field.
“This is unbelievable,” first-year Whitmer head coach Jerry Bell said. “This was our goal, and these seniors have worked so hard. This was the 41st game they’ve played in three years, and this one was for our senior class. Massillon is a phenomenal team and very explosive, and we were able to neutralize them tonight.”
No. 1-ranked Napoleon expected to face stiff competition from Bellevue on Saturday night.
But not even the top-ranked Wildcats could have anticipated what they dealt with in the Division III regional final at Donnell Stadium in Findlay.
Bellevue quarterback Jalen Santoro created too much havoc for Napoleon and led the way to a surprising 35-20 upset win for the Redmen.
With his team trailing by 11 points and Patrick Henry knocking on the door, Liberty-Benton’s Chase Cook stepped in front of a pass at the goal line and returned it 100 yards.
The pick six with 6:38 left in the game was the turning point as the Eagles stunned Patrick Henry 22-21 Saturday night at Lima Stadium in a Division V, Region 18 championship. The win puts the Eagles in the state semifinals for the second time in five seasons and they will likely face Coldwater next Saturday at a site to be determined today.
“I didn’t really know what I was doing,” said Cook, who also caught 5 passes for 79 yards.