CINCINNATI — In the shadow of the Cincinnati skyline, Taft ended 26 years of frustration for the city’s public school football teams.
Taft defeated Blanchester Saturday night, 35-3 in a Region 20 quarterfinal at Stargel Stadium. It was the first playoff win for a Cincinnati Public School high school football team since 1993.
That year, the now-defunct Cincinnati Academy of Physical Education defeated Jonathan Alder in the first round of the Region 16 playoffs before falling to Versailles in the regional final. Between 1993 and Saturday, CPS teams were 0-15 in the playoffs.
The Senators (10-1) changed that by outmuscling Blanchester on both sides of the ball. Taft outgained Blanchester 182-45 in the first half en route to a 15-0 halftime lead.
“We were fighting an uphill battle,” BHS head coach Jon Mulvihill said. “We were an eight seed playing a one seed. A couple of injuries here and there and this is a different ballgame. I’m not saying we come away with a win, but it definitely makes a difference.”
While the Wildcats held their own in the first half, an injury early in the game to James Peters dealt a big blow on both sides of the ball.
“He’s a huge part of our offense and defense,” Mulvihill said. “Losing him really hurt. He felt terrible about it, but injuries happen in football. Then later in the game, we lose our center and the next snap goes over our head. It just snowballs from there.”
While Blanchester moved the ball better in the second half, turnovers kept the Wildcats off the scoreboard until the final seconds of the game. Blanchester had one interception and four lost fumbles.
Blanchester had a five-game winning streak snapped, and finished the season 6-5.
It has been a rollercoaster ride for the Blanchester program over the last two seasons. The departure of their head coach and several key players expected to return in 2019 made for a challenging offseason.
However, Mulvihill was impressed with how his players, especially the outgoing senior class, held everything together and turned it into a league championship and a playoff season.
“They’re a great group of kids,” Mulvihill said. “Those seniors led us. There is so much heart in that group. They didn’t want it to end. They just came together and believed in everybody.
“This team is as much of a family as any team I’ve been a part of. There were no arguments at any point, ever. It was everybody love everybody, give everything you’ve got for the guys.”
Friday, Oct. 26, 2018
At Stargel Stadium, Cincinnati
Taft 35, Blanchester 3
T – Robert Brazziel 1-yard run (kick failed) 4:32
T – Yarvell Smith 28-yard field goal 1:07
T – Brazziel 12-yard pass to Chris Stewart (kick failed) 4:24
T – Jahmar Richardson 5-yard run (Brazziel run) 7:59
T – Brazziel 78-yard pass to Stewart (pass failed) 5:17
T – Mykal Dale 6-yard run (run failed) 7:49
B – Jasper Damewood 27-yard field goal 0:00
PLAYS: B 49; T 51. FIRST DOWNS: B 6; T 17. RUSHES-YARDS: B 32-22; T 38-243. PASSING YARDS: B 91; T 134. COMPLETIONS-ATTEMPTS-INTERCEPTIONS: B 8-17-1; T 7-13-0. TOTAL YARDS: B 113; T 377. PENALTIES-YARDS: B 3-35; T 8-60. FUMBLES-LOST: B 6-4; T 3-3. TIME OF POSSESSION: B 25:44; T 22:16.
Rushing (carries-yards): B Gage Huston 10-15; Colt Conover 17-13; James Peters 1-3; Tanner Creager 1-1; Adam Frump 2-(-4). T Robert Brazziel 13-79; Jahmar Richardson 8-53; Mykal Dale 4-45; Tra’vor Davis 10-43; My’Kael Bryant 2-23.
Passing (completions-attempts-interceptions): B Conover 7-15-1 76 yards; Adam Frump 0-1-0; Tanner Creager 1-1-0 15 yards. T Brazziel 7-13-0 134 yards.
Receiving (catches-yards): B Creager 5-58; Conover 1-15; Huston 1-10; Ty Goodwin 1-8. T Gianni Rudolph 4-36; Chris Steward 2-90; Richardson 1-8.