SPRINGFIELD -- Minster had been here before and played like a playoff tested team.
After a few first-quarter hiccups, the Minter Wildcats went out and dominated in their second straight appearance against Springfield Catholic Central with a 48-13 win in a regional quarterfinal on Saturday night.
"The glitz and glamour of being in the playoffs , it never crossed anyone's mind," Minster head coach Nate Moore said after the game. "It's been-there, done that."
The domination of the Fighting Irish over the last three quarters appeared workmanlike and total.
The Minster football team ran at will and frustrated a usually-unstoppable Springfield Catholic Central vertical passing game, turning a first week playoff game into a mere warm-up for a re-match with the Fort Loramie Redskins.
The Wildcats racked up 300 yards rushing on 39 carries. Most of that damage came in the first three quarters of action before the Wildcats pulled their starters early in the fourth quarter.
Minster running back Korey Shultz led the way with a show of his vision and speed. Shultz rushed for 186 yards on seven carries -- scoring four rushing touchdowns, while adding a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown. Shultz broke off touchdown runs of 66, five, 28 and 65 yards.
The other half of Minster's second team All-MAC rushing duo, Troy Kauffman, carried the ball 12 times for 67 yards and a touchdown.
"We've got two guys back there who are extremely fast," Minster head coach Nate Moore said. "When we can get them out on the second level, they're going to go all the way quite a bit. That's a testament to the guys up front. They have to get to that second level untouched. It happened quite a few times tonight."
Adam Niemeyer was efficient, going 11-for-14 for 110 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
The game appeared headed for a shootout early, with Catholic Central leading 13-7 after one quarter.
Kelly started the game hot, running away from Minster rushers to find receivers streaking down the sideline.
Kelly hit on five of his first eight passes for 183 yards, including strikes to Dimitrious Dimitroff for 32, 25 and 60 yards. Dimitroff had 127 yards receiving in the first quarter. Kelly finished the first half with 255 yards passing.
"They made some throws down the field early, and that's going to happen," Moore said. "They've got great athletes."
But Minster's pass rush wore on Kelly and the Fighting Irish's top receiver with more than 900 yards receiving in the regular season , Jake Aldridge, went down with an injury. Aldridge returned to action, but with a noticeable limp.
Kelly went much of the second half without completing a pass and finished the game 10-for-31 for 264 yards, one touchdown and five interceptions.
"I'm proud that our guys never faltered, never doubted themselves and went back out there got after it," Moore said. "Eventually the things we planned on doing â€‘- I thought we were more physical -- those things took over."
Moore said his secondary didn't need more adjustment. The second-year Wildcat coach just needed his front seven to not allow Kelly to scramble around and give his receivers time to get open without safety help.
"You can't cover people forever when you're in cover zero," Moore said. "It was more making sure our edge rushers were doing their job."
The game was littered with penalties, with the two teams combining for 22 penalties for 209 yards.
Minster kicker and wideout Devon Poeppelman, who Moore had said would be out for the remainder of the season with a foot injury returned to kick and make two catches for the Wildcats. Poeppelman went six-of-seven on extra points -- helping shore up a kicking issue the Wildcats had in the latter part of the season.
The second half was almost a replay of Minster's 44-21 win a season ago against the Fighting Irish when the Wildcats scored the game's final 23 points.
Minster made its first back-to-back playoff appearances since the 1992 season -- the final of a five-year run under Ken Newland.
Now Nate Moore is building his own sort of legacy just two seasons into his tenure at Minster. His three playoff wins are already the second most in school history.
Minster will play Fort Loramie in a Week 1 rematch that saw Minster dominate 26-5. The site of that game will be announced Sunday afternoon.
(Editing Note: In the original posting of this article, Korey Shultz's last name was misspelled. The Evening Leader apologizes for this error.)View more articles in: