PLAIN CITY — Clinton-Massie is known for running the football.
While other teams can’t wait to put in the spread offense, up-tempo passing game, head coach Dan McSurley just keeps running the football.
All the way to Canton.
The Falcons overpowered a previously impenetrable Bloom-Carroll defense for 351 yards on the ground in Friday night’s Div. IV state semifinal win 24-21 at Jonathan Alder High School.
“They knew exactly what we were going to do and we knew exactly what we were going to do,” said Massie offensive tackle Owen Trick. “After the first couple drives, we kinda figured each other out.”
And that usually spells doom for the opposing defense, regardless of how good they were.
“That’s one of the most physical defenses we’ve played this year, right up there with Wyoming,” said lineman Isaiah McCoy.
The guys up front took over the game after a slow start. Tackle Garrett Vance, guard Adam Frisch, center Lane Schulz, guard McCoy, tackle Trick and tight end Dawson Conley paved the way for the Falcons to get to the Div. IV state championship game.
Early in the game, Clinton-Massie’s offense struggled. There were big plays – 40-yard pass to Conley, 20-yard run by Carson Vanhoose – but through one quarter there wasn’t much offense to be had.
Carter Frank ripped off a 50-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage in the second quarter and Massie seemed to be in control from there.
Clinton-Massie ran the ball 65 times for 351 yards. The Falcons had 19 first downs. They controlled the clock to the tune of 34:32 to 13:28.
“Each week we scheme it up for a different defense,” Trick said. “The last couple weeks, we’ve been given different fronts. They (Bloom-Carroll) gave us more like a five hands down look. We have different plays in our playbook we like to try and exploit.”
• While the big guys up front get all the blocking glory, the backfield players and wideouts do their share as well.
But the block of the year may have came from the quarterback Kody Zantene, who leveled a Bloom-Carroll defender on Carson Vanhoose’s 42-yard run in the third quarter. While that drive didn’t end in a touchdown, it did produce points — Ean McGuinness 21-yard field goal, which ultimately was the difference in the game.
“Oh, shoot; that was a big one,” McSurley said of Zantene’s block.
The play to Vanhoose started to the right but the Massie workhorse was bottled up at the line. He quickly reversed field and headed to the left, right toward Zantene. The senior quarterback knew what he had to do.
“I knew at that point in the game, I had to make a block,” Zantene said. “I had to do something to get us a big play.”
• Clinton-Massie had two turnovers in the first half and four in the game. The last time a Clinton-Massie varsity football team had two turnovers in a game was Nov. 9, 2019 in a 42-28 playoff loss to Valley View. Still searching for the last time the Falcons had four miscues in a single game.
• The Bloom-Carroll defense came into the game highly regarded and rightfully so. The Bulldogs had allowed 12 points in the last six games and were downright stingy the entire season.
“Their front three linemen and two linebackers … no doubt they were the best defense we played all year,” Zantene said.
Said McSurley, “That was a good team. That team had only given up 76 points on the year in 14 games. We hung 24 on them, so that was pretty good.”
Th Massie defense, on the other hand, with the state finals on the line, stood head and shoulders above the Bulldogs on this night.
“Our defense, my gosh, our defense played one heck of a game,” said McSurley.
Bloom-Carroll was averaging just under 40 points a game coming in to Friday night.
Massie held BC to 207 yards and seven first downs. The Bulldogs were just 3 for 11 on third down.