In what was one the greatest season ever for Toledo high school football teams, certainly since Ohio installed its playoff format in 1972.
In a battle of unbeatens in the final week of the regular season, visiting Whitmer blanked Central Catholic 42-0 to decide the Three Rivers Athletic Conference championship, knocking the Irish from their No. 1 ranking in Division II for the first time all season.
But following the loss, fourth-ranked Central (14-1) ran the table in the playoffs, beating defending champion Trotwood-Madison 16-12 in the final in Massillon, capturing its second D-II state championship in eight seasons.
Third-ranked Whitmer (14-1) became only the second Toledo team to reach a Division I final before falling to Cincinnati Moeller 20-12 in the title game in Canton.
En route to its crown, Central beat Grafton Midview (50-7), Mansfield Madison (45-7), Avon (42-14), and Aurora (20-13). In the final, 13th-year coach Greg Dempsey’s Irish used a stalwart defensive effort, holding Trotwood scoreless and to just 44 offensive yards through three quarters before holding on late.
Central was paced by senior running back Amir Edwards, whose 185 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the state final brought his season totals to 1,777 yards and 30 TDs.
The Irish defense was led up front by All-Ohio first-teamer Jon Perrin, Keith Towbridge, and Jeff Dew, by linebackers Chris Green, Ian Butler, and Paul Moses, and in the secondary by All-Ohio first-teamer Jayme Thompson, Mitch Cochell, and Derich Weiland.
Under first-year coach Jerry Bell, Whitmer was downright dominant for 14 weeks until meeting a tough Moeller defense in the title game.
The Panthers reached its first final — after state semifinal losses in 2010 and 2011 — by beating Avon Lake (28-0), Hudson (39-28), Massillon Washington (49-16), and Mentor (62-34).
Whitmer was paced throughout the season by senior quarterback Nick Holley, an All-Ohio first-team selection, and perhaps the state’s best defensive unit led by tackles Marquise Moore (All-Ohio second team) and Joenathan Mays; linebackers Jack Linch (All-Ohio first team), Nate Holley (All-Ohio third team), and Devin Thomas; and secondary standout Marcus Elliott (All-Ohio second team).
Nick Holley, who had not played QB since his freshman year, rushed for 2,084 yards and 21 TDs, and passed for 1,939 yards and 25 TDs.
Northern Lakes League champion Napoleon (11-1-1), Ohio’s top-ranked Division III team, enjoyed the most wins in school history.
After surviving overtime victories in back-to-back weeks against Anthony Wayne and Perrysburg to help secure the NLL crown, coach Tory Strock’s Wildcats beat Calendonia River Valley (30-6) in the opening round of the playoffs, then held off a two-point conversion attempt in the closing seconds to edge third-ranked Bryan 21-20. Napoleon fell in the regional final (35-20) to eventual state runner-up Bellevue.
Bryan also enjoyed its best season in the playoff era. The Golden Bears (11-1) and coach Kevin Kline won their first Northwest Ohio Athletic League title since 1986, then won their first playoff game (41-24) over Columbus Watterson before the falling to Napoleon.
McComb (13-1), Ohio’s second-ranked Division VI team and champion of the Blanchard Valley Conference under veteran coach Kris Alge, took three playoff victories before falling in heart-breaking fashion in the state semifinals, 34-28 in three overtimes to eventual state champion Maria Stein Marion Local.
BVC runner-up Liberty-Benton (12-2) used two late interceptions to rally to a 22-21 regional final win over Patrick Henry (10-3) in Division V.
Patrick Henry had earlier taken a 20-19 opening-round win over sixth-ranked Northwood (10-1), the Toledo Area Athletic Association champion guided veteran coach Ken James.
Genoa (11-1), which won its fifth league title in six season, its first in the Northern Buckeye Conference, achieved a No. 5 state ranking in Division IV under first-year coach Tim Spiess, but eventually fell 41-12 to second-ranked Ottawa-Glandorf in a regional semifinal.
In Michigan, Bedford (6-4), Whiteford (8-2) and Blissfield (6-5) all reached the playoffs.