CANTON, Ohio — It was 28-7 Youngstown Ursuline in the middle of the third quarter Friday in the OHSAA Div. IV state football championship game at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
Knowing the Falcons had attempted no more than 8 passes in a single game this year, one of the media types walked through the pressbox and said, “It’s over.”
John “Bluto” Blutarsky, where are you?
It wasn’t over in the Animal House movie when John Belushi’s character uttered those famous words, “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?”
No, and it wasn’t over because McSurley wasn’t going to pass the ball.
“The triple (option offense) is very explosive, it’s really like a pass play,” said McSurley. “If (quarterback) Kody (Zantene) reads it right and these guys block for each other, it’s just as good as a 50-, 60-yard pass down field.”
And McSurley knows that all too well, despite the trend of football offenses wanting to put the ball in the air.
“Everybody wants to run the spread offense,” he said. “For us, I think it (running offense) might give us a little bit of an advantage because it’s something a lot teams don’t see. It’s hard to prepare for.”
For the coaches and players, in a game like this, the important thing is to not go away from what brought you to the title game in the first place.
“None of us want to think of the bad things; stay positive,” said offensive lineman Garrett Vance, whose fumble recovery in the end zone pulled Massie within 28-21 in the fourth quarter. “It doesn’t matter about throwing the football. The ground and pound offense really takes its toll on a defense and I think it did tonight. They (Irish) couldn’t handle it.”
Vance likened the offensive dilligence, sticking to the run game, like a jackhammer pounding on the concrete pavement.
“We stick to the ground game and when that happenns we start to break open some holes,” he said. “When you keep smashing in to something, eventually it’s going to open up and it opened up tonight for our run game.”
So as the offensive line of Vance, Adam Frisch, Lane Schulz, Owen Trick, Isaiah McCoy and Dawson Conley began to take over, the hopes of Massie actually pulling off this improbable comeback seemed very real.
“We lost the momentum in the first quarter and didn’t have it at all in the second quarter,” said coach Zantene. “Once we got the momentum back in the third quarter, our leaders took over and they made everbody believe.
“(Kody) is probably the greatest leader on the football field I’ve ever seen. Colton Trampler, that’s another kid that’s a natural leader … then all of a sudden you see Carson and Carter and you saw the rest of them (believe). The O-line was firing on all cylinders and that’s all it took.”
McSurley knew there would be a turnaround and he knew it wasn’t going to come with the ball in the air.
“With our style offense, you can’t panic,” said McSurley. “You just have to go to the bank and go to the bank and eventually hope something pays off.”
For all the great players running the ball and all the powerful linemen blocking for them, it’s as much philosophy as it is anything, McSurley said.
“You really can’t get out of what you do,” the long-time coach said. “If you do, it’s defeating the whole fundamentals and basics of the offense.”
Ursuline head coach Dan Reardon, who coached at Canton McKinley before resurrecting this Ursuline program to the top of the heap over the last four years, has seen plenty of offenses in his day.
“Clinton-Massie’s a good football team that knows how to win,” he said. “They have the ability to wear you down and eat the clock. They have a lot of answers for what you do defensively. The complexities and nuances of their offense make you use so many resources defensively.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @wnjsports