MASSILLON — The white screen-printed 34 on Christian Hauber’s Kirtland Hornets jersey is cracked and faded like a distressed t-shirt. Everyone else’s numbers are crisp and intact.
It’s no fashion statement, though. The 6-foot-1, 218-pound fullback earns every bit of the jersey’s degradation with a tough running style that has his team celebrating its first-ever state championship.
Kirtland captured the Division V state crown with a 28-7 win over Coldwater on Friday to cap a perfect 15-0 season.
Minster senior linebacker Daniel Gusching earned the Division VI Defensive Player of the Year award in Division VI and Minster head coach Nate Moore was named Division VI’s top coach in the Associated Press All-Ohio football team.
Gusching, a 6-foot-3, 217-pound senior outside linebacker, made 89 tackles this season with 11 sacks in 13 games.
Gusching schared the honor with Youngstown Christian’s Kaevon Green.
COLDWATER — The common link between Coldwater and Kirtland coming into Friday’s Division V state championship game is a team that didn’t even make the playoffs this season.
Both teams bowed out of the playoffs the last two seasons at the hands of private school power Youngstown Ursuline. Coldwater lost the last two Division V title game to the Irish. Kirtland fell earlier in the playoffs the last two years to Ursuline.
The two squads meet at Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium on Friday morning at 11 a.m.