Published in The Plain Dealer
November 24, 2018
NEW PHILADELPHIA, Ohio –Kenston ran its way to the first state football title game in 23 years in a 40-7 win over Columbus Eastmoor Academy in the Division III state semifinals Friday night.
The Bombers scored six touchdowns on the ground, led by quarterback Jon Tomcufcik with three scores, running back Jack Porter with two touchdowns and running back Stanley Sell with a touchdown run.
For Kenston, it was all about eliminating the speed of Eastmoor Academy.
“You beat speed with being physical,” Kenston coach Jeff Grubich said. “We wanted to take the fight right to them in the trenches.”
Porter started the scoring barrage with a 12-yard touchdown run on the game’s opening possession.
After defense held on a fourth-down play, Kenston got the ball back and went down the field on a drive that ended with Tomcufcik’s first score of the game, a 4-yard run with 1:00 left in the first quarter.
The junior signal-caller then added touchdown runs of 16 yards and 42 yards in the second quarter to send Kenston to the half with a 26-0 lead.
“It was just a simple zone read,” Tomcufcik said. “If they want to take the tailback away, which they did, Jon has been coached all year to pull that ball and take it and he capitalized on it.”
The Warriors defense wasn’t able to bottle up that tailback for long, however, as Porter ran the ball 25 times for 198 yards and two touchdowns. Tomcufcik added 100 yards rushing to go along with the three touchdowns.
“I knew I was going to get a chance to run this week and it happened,” Tomcufcik said. “I have to credit the offensive line, they did a great job opening up lanes.”
Not to be outdone by the offense, the Kenston defense was stellar for the second straight week. After allowing just seven points in the regional final against Canfield, the Bombers didn’t give up a score to the Warriors until the final minute of the game and the score already 40-0.
“Our defense is finally starting to peak at the right time,” Kenston linebacker Matt Iklodi said. “I give all the credit to our coaches.”
The Kenston defense forced two turnovers in the game and slowed down an Eastmoor Academy offense that had scored 40 or more points seven times this season.
“We turned the film on and we saw speed all over the field,” Grubich said. “It was a huge emphasis in practice this week to try to cut their angles off and try to get in front of them and make them dance around and let the cavalry rally to the football.”
Kenston will now face Kettering Archbishop Alter for the Division III state championship at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton next weekend with the day and time to be announced by the OHSAA later this weekend.
It is the third time in school history that the Bombers will play for the state championship, and the first since 1995. Kenston fans packed the stands at Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium to see their Bombers accomplish the feat.
“I couldn’t be more proud of a group of kids, a group of coaches, a school and a community,” Grubich said. “You’re two hours away and you pack your visitor stands. I am just proud as heck to be a Bomber and to be a part of something as special as this.”
This team will try to become the first team from Kenston to hoist the state championship trophy, as the teams in 1995 and 1986 lost in the championship game.
“For so long that has been my goal,” Porter said. “It would mean the world to me.”
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