The Ohio High School Athletic Association will be holding the 2022 football state championships this week at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.
We are going to preview each state championship game and we are starting with the first game of the week in Division II.
Division II state championship game
Date/Time: Thursday, December 1 at 7:00 p.m.
Archbishop Hoban (14-1) vs. Toledo Central Catholic (14-1)
It seems fitting that two teams who started their seasons with a scrimmage against each other would finish the season playing for the state title.
Archbishop Hoban is playing in its seventh state championship game in eight years, having won five state titles in that span. The Knights were the Division III state champs in 2015 and 2016 and then won the title in Division II in 2017, 2018 and 2020.
The Knights enter the Division II state championship game having defeated Massillon 41-20 in the state semifinals.
As was the case last season, the Hoban offense runs through running back Lamar Sperling. The Ohio Mr. Football finalist has run for 3,626 yards and a state-record 55 touchdowns this season. In the playoffs alone, Sperling has 1,416 yards rushing and 24 touchdowns in five games.
Quarterback JacQai Long showed in the win over Massillon that Hoban’s offense is not just one-dimensional, however. After having thrown just 10 passes total in the previous two games, Long threw two touchdown passes in the first quarter of the state semifinal win and finished the game 9-of-15 for 212 yards.
Long’s favorite target this season – as it was against Massillon – has been Jayvian Crable. He has more than 700 yards receiving this season and had 139 yards on five catches in the semifinals.
The 20 points were the most allowed in the playoffs by the Hoban defense, as the Knights had been giving up just over 10 points per game in the postseason. The only time this season the Knights have allowed more than 20 points was in their only loss – a 41-20 setback at St. Edward.
Speaking of losses at St. Edward, that is the only blemish for Toledo Central Catholic this season as well. The Fighting Irish fell 23-20 to the Eagles in the first game of the season but have been on a roll since.
Central Catholic is coming off a thrilling 52-49 win over Kings in the semifinals, where the two teams alternated touchdowns in the fourth quarter before Central Catholic running back Chris Edmonds scored from five yards out in the final 30 seconds. When a Kings field goal attempt came up short, the Fighting Irish had clinched their spot in Canton.
Quarterback Ty’Waun Clark accounted for more than 400 yards of offense in the win over Kings, as he threw for 294 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 130 yards. On the season, the dual-threat quarterback has thrown for 2,100 yards and 22 touchdown passes, while adding 860 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground.
Edmonds leads the ground attack with 2,030 yards and 34 scores and has been held under 100 yards just twice this season. He has scored a touchdown in every game except the loss to St. Edward.
In 14 wins this season, the Central Catholic offense is averaging 42.7 points per game and have scored fewer than 40 just three times in those 14 wins. In the playoffs, they are averaging 41.2 points per game.
Defensively, Central Catholic had allowed just 13 points total to its first three playoff opponents before defeating Avon 28-20, an Avon offense that averaged more than 56 points per game in the prior 10 games.
This is the first state championship game appearance for Central Catholic since 2015, and the Fighting Irish are looking to win their first state title since 2014.