The 'Cats Are The Champs Again

Members of the Minster Wildcats hoist their Division VII football state champion trophy after defeating Cuyahoga Heights 32-7 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in  Canton.
By: 
JAKE DOWLING
Sports Editor

Just two players for Minster were named to the Division VII All-Ohio team earlier this week and those two players took control of the biggest game of the season.

And while those two players accounted for four touchdowns and two turnovers that led to scores, the Minster Wildcats are back on top of the football world — this time the Division VII mountain as the Wildcats and their Midwest Athletic Conference talent shutout Cuyahoga Heights in the second half en route to a 32-7 state final victory at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium on Friday.

“I thought our competitive level today was awesome,” said Wildcats coach Geron Stokes. “That is a really good football team and every time they (Cuyahoga Heights) did something well, our kids would find a way to dig their cleats into the ground and fight back. I really do believe that is a credit to how much they care about each other and how they did not want to let each other down.
“The amount of investment these guys have put in and the amount of discomfort they have gone through really made us a close group.”

Jared Huelsman — who was named a second-teamer at quarterback — scampered in for two scores on the ground to accompany his 221 rushing yards and threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Austin Brown to get the scoring going, while Isaac Schmiesing — a Third-Team All-Ohio cornerback — snatched two interceptions that led to two scores to go along with eight tackles and a rushing touchdown to boot.

Combined, the two seniors scored all 32 points, while the Redskins and their seven all-state selections were limited to seven points and four turnovers on offense.

After picking off Huelsman to open game, the Redskins drove inside the red zone at Minster’s 11 when Brown picked off Ryan Polk to end the Redskins’ first possession of the game.

Relying on their MAC-best interception total throughout the season and building on the turnovers they have produced in the four games leading up to Friday, the Wildcats turned Brown’s pick into points when Huelsman found the 6-foot-3 receiver on a nine route running wide open for a 44-yard touchdown pass and an early 7-0 lead with 7:07 left in the opening quarter.

The Redskins tied the game on their ensuing possession thanks to a 10-play, 64-yard drive, culminated by a Polk 28-yard pass to All-Ohio selection Dylan Drummond.

Huelsman then took the game into his own hands, much as he did with his five TDs against St. Paul the week before.
Pinned at their own 6 yard line with 10:04 left in the second quarter, the Wildcats’ signal caller accounted for 74 of the Wildcats’ 94 yards on their 14-play drive that ended with Huelsman bulldozing from 3 yards out to give Minster back the lead after a missed extra point, 13-7.

As part of the Wildcats’ 12 points to end the first half, Minster forced Cuyahoga Heights to punt on its ensuing possession to hand the Redskins what ended up being a major blow to their comeback hopes.
Pinned again deep in their own territory  —  this time at the Wildcats’ own 17 yard line  —  Huelsman had the ball in his hands on every play and ripped off runs of 9, 12 and 30 yards to eventually settled Minster at the Redskins’ 8 yard line.

Three plays later and facing a fourth down and goal at Cuyahoga Heights’ 3 yard line, Stokes bled the game clock to 0:01 to run one final play to end the half  —  a long-developing run play that called for two blockers to pull to the left side of the line and split an opening for Huelsman.

That plan worked as Huelsman barreled in from 3 yards out for a 19-7 halftime lead.

Schmiesing took part in dismantling the Redskins to open the second half by intercepting his first pass on third and 7 from the Redskins’ 30 yard line, culminating in Huelsman’s Division VII state final record tying third rushing touchdown, this one from 9 yards out for an insurmountable 25-7 lead with 8:06 remaining in the third quarter.

If the Redskins had any chance of rekindling the success they had enjoyed throughout the season to savage Friday’s state final, Schmiesing squashed it like a bug.
The senior was there for his second interception of the afternoon when he picked off Polk in the end zone and ten plays later, Schmiesing leaped over a cut tackle for the score on a drive that chewed up 4:39 of clock.