Central ready for title gameWritten by | |
No matter what happens, the Central Catholic football season is going to come to an end Dec. 2. The Irish, 13-1, will take the field at Massillon’s Paul Brown Stadium to play for the Division II State Championship against the 14-0 Canfiled Cardinals. Kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Central might be the first Toledo City League School to win it all since St. Francis de Sales brought the title home in 2001. Central Catholic was crowned state champion in 1962 by an Associated Press vote. To finish the season with a victory, the Irish will rely on what got them to a December game: solid defense balanced with a traditionally impressive and imposing offensive line.
The Central defense is anchored by one of the best linebacking duos in the state: seniors Ryan Brown and Lee Marquette. They also boast a tremendous defensive lineman in senior Anthony Oliver, who has the ability to take over a game. The whole unit has stepped up as it held Tiffin Columbian to 10 points and Mansfield Madison and Avon Lake to a pair of touchdowns each during this state playoff march.
The defense has been overshadowed by an offense that has turned on the afterburners this post season, averaging 33 points a game in the playoffs.
Quarterback Kevin Jansen has been effective this postseason, and the offensive line, anchored by senior Mike Starkey, has allowed the running game to remain a threat as tailback Neil Mitchell has stepped up while teammate Chris Willis has been slowed by injuries. The true weapon of the offence is junior Dane Sanzenbacher. Sanzenbacher is a multi-purpose, multi-threat weapon of mass destruction on both sides of the ball.
The Cardinals, out of the Metro Athletic Conference in the Youngstown area, are just scary on defense, perhaps the best in the state. They are plus-22 this year in takeaways, and gave up an average of 7.8 points per game in the regular season.