Cuyahoga Heights High School 2018 Football Playoffs
Cuyahoga Heights 35, Warren JFK 20:
Fourth-quarter swing vaults Redskins to third straight State Semifinal!
MACEDONIA, Ohio — Brayden DiSanza rarely came off the football field Saturday. Just on kickoffs.
Pulling double duty and then some is commonplace for the Cuyahoga Heights football team. The players do not seem to mind. They are being rewarded with their third straight trip to the OHSAA state semifinals.
DiSanza rushed 26 times for 131 yards and three touchdowns Saturday night at Nordonia’s Boliantz Stadium to lead a 35-20 win vs. Warren JFK in the Division VII, Region 25 championship. DiSanza scored his third touchdown on a 3-yard, go-ahead plunge with more than nine minutes left in the fourth quarter.
He also got in on the tackle of JFK quarterback and punter Christian Marantis on a high snap during the game’s most critical stretch.
“When I saw that snap go, I’m like, ‘Yep, let’s do this,'” DiSanza said. “We just pounce on it. We take advantage of things when they’re given to us. We never stop coming.”
JFK (7-6) committed four turnovers, not counting the botched punt that set up Cuyahoga Heights (11-2) at the 29 with a chance to retake the lead.
Down 20-14 entering the fourth quarter, the defending regional champions scored 21 unanswered points to celebrate with another title, their second straight since moving down to Division VII. Coach Al Martin and his players hope this one — like the previous runs — leads them to another appearance in the state finals.
“They’ve probably improved more than any team of those three,” Martin said. “Those last two years, we were pretty good early in the season. We got better, but this team has come a long way from where we were — if you just look back to Brookfield and Kirtland — how far we’ve come from then.”
Those were the Redskins’ two losses, both in blowout fashion. Since a 42-6 loss Sept. 28 to Kirtland, they have won seven straight.
They must go through Glouster Trimble to win eight straight and return to Canton for the OHSAA championships. Trimble beat Lucas, 21-14, in the Region 27 championship. McComb and Fort Loramie will meet next week in the other state semifinal. Locations for both of those games will be announced Sunday by the OHSAA.
As Cuyahoga Heights’ players celebrated Saturday with their regional championship plaque, senior defensive tackle Jordan Krucek pulled them together for a postgame prayer. They huddled together, then promptly celebrated again.
Krucek noted, however, he is not satisfied with this. The memories of those last two state final runs still linger, despite this being a mostly different team.
“We’re never satisfied,” he said. “We came up short both years. It’s go time.”
Cuyahoga Heights’ pursuit is still alive for its first state championship in program history. The march continues because of the efforts on both sides of the football by Krucek, DiSanza and others.
Following DiSanza’s go-ahead touchdown, Sam Shafer and Kyle Polack responded a possession later with a quick-strike, 44-yard touchdown pass. For good measure late in the fourth quarter, with JFK driving into Cuyahoga Heights territory, Jason Bartosik picked off a pass and ran it back 93 yards to clinch the result.
The sure-handed Bartosik made a one-handed grab earlier in front of his sideline that impressed alumni from those last two state final runs, including Dylan Drummond, who made his own one-handed catch in last year’s state title game.
As DiSanza said, Cuyahoga Heights pounced on each opportunity. The scrappy 5-foot-8, 159-pound junior even blocked two extra points.
“He’s a heck of a player,” Krucek said. “He’s looking to play college football, and he’s on his way there.”
For now, they are just trying to get back to Canton.
November 24, 2018 | 7:00 PM | Highland High/Middle School-Marengo Stadium
Cuyahoga Heights Redskins — Trimble Tomcats (Glouster, Ohio)
November 17, 2018 | 7:00 PM | Nordonia Boliantz Stadium
Cuyahoga Heights Redskins 35 — John F. Kennedy Catholic Eagles 20 (Warren, Ohio)
November 10, 2018 | 7:00 PM | Hudson High School Campus Fields
Cuyahoga Heights Redskins 21 — East Canton Hornets 6
November 3, 2018 | 7:00 PM | Cuyahoga Heights Ralph P. Adams Stadium
Cuyahoga Heights Redskins 42 — Tuscarawus Central Catholic Saints 13
Cuyahoga Heights High School 2018 Football Schedule
August 23, 2018 | 7:00 PM
Cuyahoga Heights 54 – Villa Angela-St. Joseph 12 (non-conference away game)
August 31, 2018 | 7:00 PM
Cuyahoga Heights 28 – Garrettsville Garfield 14
September 7, 2018 | 7:00 PM
Cuyahoga Heights 17 – Brookfield 46 (away game)
September 14, 2018 | 7:00 PM
Cuyahoga Heights 21 – Richmond Heights 6 (away game)
September 21, 2018 | 7:00 PM
Cuyahoga Heights 42 – Berkshire 26 (away game)
September 28, 2018 | 7:00 PM
Cuyahoga Heights 6 – Kirkland 42 (away game)
October 5, 2018 | 7:00 PM
Cuyahoga Heights 41 – Wickliffe 26 (away game)
October 12, 2018 | 7:00 PM
Cuyahoga Heights 35 – Cardinal 0
October 19, 2018 | 7:00 PM
Cuyahoga Heights 38 – Fairport Harbor Harding – 0
October 26, 2018 | 7:00 PM
Cuyahoga Heights 31 – Independence 12