CLEVELAND, Ohio – The final score read 13-12, but when John Hay’s players walked off the field following their Division III quarterfinal loss to Ravenna, there were no losers.
“The guys are champions, there is a lot of love on that team,” John Hay coach Rodney Decipeda said. “They have grown together, they have grown as a family and have bonded and that is what is special. There are always two components to the game, one on the inside and one on the scoreboard.
“I told my men we are champions. We won on the inside and while we aren’t on the scoreboard, I couldn’t be prouder. It was a special season.”
Special indeed as John Hay nearly took home the win, when Decipeda went for it all. With 2:15 left in the third quarter, Mylik Mitchell found Deon Colvin for a 31-yard score. It put the Hornets one point away from advancing. The conversion attempt just was out of reach.
It wasn’t always pretty, but playoff football in Ohio is often about who is there at the end to make a play.
Ravenna senior quarterback Kyle Spellman had a rough evening under center, but he was there at the end to secure the win as Ravenna got a 13-12 victory over Cleveland John Hay in a Division III regional quarterfinal contest.
Spellman has had much better statistical performances, finishing just 6-of-16 for 102 yards passing while rushing for 27 yards. The Ravens senior had trouble securing the ball all evening, fumbling twice and getting picked off once.
But with two minutes left in the fourth quarter, it was Spellman who carried the ball four times — and picked up a first down that all but ended a timeout-less Hay’s hopes of a comeback — for 19 yards to seal the victory.
“A team like Kent Roosevelt is going to put the ball in (senior quarterback) Tra Chapman’s hands with the game on the line and we’re going to do that with Kyle Spellman,” Ravenna coach Jim Lunardi said. “Tonight didn’t go (well) for him, but he helped get us here and we trusted him at the end.”
Trailing Miami in the 1984 Orange Bowl, Osborne’s Huskers scored a late TD to cut the Hurricanes’ lead to 31-30. Rather than going for an extra point, however, Osborne elected to go for two points — and the win.
Nebraska QB Turner Gill’s pass attempt was tipped away in the end zone, however, giving Miami the win and the national championship.
The reason I mention this is that Ravenna head coach Jim Lunardi was faced with a similar dilemma in Friday night’s game against Kent Roosevelt.
After QB Kyle Spellman hooked up with Kyle Kornbau for a 16-yard touchdown in the first overtime, Lunardi elected to kick an extra point and send the game into the second OT, rather than go for two and end the game — win or lose — right then and there.
Mogadore, Kent Roosevelt, Aurora and Streetsboro will host Regional Quarterfinal games next weekend, while Ravenna and Woodridge will open playoff action on the road.
The Wildcats (10-0) earned the top spot in Division VI, Region 21, and likely locked up their sixth Associated Press State Poll championship after defeating East Canton 33-12 on Friday to finish the regular season with a perfect 10-0 record. The Cats also captured AP poll crowns in 1979, 1980, 1983, 1985 and 2001.
KENT: The Big R Trophy is returning to Kent on the legs of Tra’Von Chapman.
Chapman ran for 162 yards and four touchdowns, two of them in overtime, as Kent Roosevelt took down rival Ravenna 26-20 in double overtime Friday night.
“It was a heart-racer,” said Chapman, who also passed for 82 yards. “My whole family is here and I think I gave them a couple of spooks. It was a great team win.”
After trailing 13-3 entering the fourth quarter, Ravenna (6-4, 5-2) fought back and forced overtime in the Portage Trail Conference Metro game on junior kicker Ben Morgan’s 24-yard field goal as time expired.
It’s appropriate that another game between Kent Roosevelt and Ravenna could not be resolved in regulation — or even after one overtime period.
It’s appropriate that seniors led the way for both of the Portage Trail Conference Metro Division’s historically power programs.
And it’s especially appropriate that, on the final play of the second overtime period, it was the most important senior on Roosevelt’s roster that clinched the victory.
I have been fortunate to have been on both sides of the Kent Roosevelt-Ravenna rivalry.
In 1994 and 1995, my first two years at the Record-Courier, my beat was Ravenna High School sports, covering the football Ravens under then-head coach John Keegan.
From 1996-2000, I was reassigned to covering sports at Kent Roosevelt High School, where I followed the football Rough Riders under first John Nemec and then Joe Vassalotti.
As an outsider and a newcomer to this game, I quickly learned that there was one common denominator to the rivalry between Ravenna and Kent Roosevelt: Whether you’re a Raven, or whether you’re a Rough Rider, this game is personal.
You have parents who attended Kent Roosevelt and now live in Ravenna, whose kids are Ravenna students or graduates. And vice versa.
You have students who attend Ravenna and have cousins — and in some cases siblings — who attend Kent Roosevelt. And vice versa.
There are even cases where a student starts out at Ravenna High School, then transfers to Kent Roosevelt. And vice versa.
And then there are students at Kent Roosevelt who have close friends who attend Ravenna. And vice versa.
This rivalry transcends league championships, playoff berths, even community bragging rights. It literally cuts right through families, crosses friendships and affects the residents of the Ravenna and Kent communities on a deeply personal level — and that’s what makes it special.
Questions have recently arose about the official start of the Kent Roosevelt-Ravenna football rivalry.
When was the first official game?
The answer to that question is known for sure: 1922.
That was the first year that Kent Roosevelt and Ravenna squared off on the gridiron under those specific high school names.
However, the rivalry dates further than that, likely all the way back to 1910, which is where some of the confusion enters the equation.
At that time, Kent’s high school was known as the Kent High School and was often referred to as the Kent Central High School, especially after the arrival of the Kent Normal School in 1917, which later became Kent State High School. The school adopted the name Theodore Roosevelt High School in 1922.
By Colin Harris | Staff Writer
For all of the big games that University of Mount Union coaching legend Larry Kehres has been a part of, there is one clash he’s always had to view at a distance.
As Kent Roosevelt and Ravenna prepare to lock horns this Friday, Kehres joined a collection of over 100 city leaders, school administrators, players, cheerleaders and band members of the two schools convened for the annual Captains Luncheon, which was hosted by NEOMED and co-sponsored by Robinson Memorial Hospital and Brimfield Insurance.
Now in its 14th year, the event showcased Friday’s meeting between the two schools, who enter Friday’s game with playoff seeding and league title implications riding on the game’s outcome.
Kehres’ resume speaks for itself: since taking over as head coach at the University of Mount Union in 1986, Kehres has posted a 324-24-3 record and captured 10 Division III national championships.
Last week, Kehres passed University of Alabama head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant for fourth place on the all-time win list in NCAA football.
But despite all of his success as a coach, he has never earned a victory — as a player or on the sidelines — in a game quite like Roosevelt vs. Ravenna.
“I grew up a little jealous of those Friday night lights,” Kehres, a graduate of Southeast High School, said. “Rivalries are cool — it’s the schools that don’t have rivalries that wish they did.
More than one time this season I have said that I thought two Metro Division teams would qualify for the state playoffs. That’s just the way it’s historically been in the league.
Apparently past history is not always an indicator of future success, especially in the Metro Division.
Last Friday’s upset win by Streetsboro over Ravenna actually did little to change the playoff scenarios in the division. Roosevelt and Streetsboro are still locks — although the Rockets all-but locked up a home game — and Ravenna is still a sure bet for Week 11 as well.
Ravenna is currently third in Division III, Region 9 and controls its own destiny. What that means is if they win on Friday against Kent Roosevelt, they will secure a home playoff game.