Published in The News-Herald
November 30, 2018
CANTON – The Kenston football team cringed all week hearing how good the Kettering Alter team was that the Bombers would be facing in the Division III state championship.
The Bombers bristled when they were called “Kingston” along with other near-misses to their actual name.
After 48 minutes of football at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium on Nov. 30, they had answered all the critics and has made clear what they are to be called.
Kenston gave up an early touchdown, but scored six unanswered touchdowns and buried Kettering Alter, 42-6, in front of 6,922 that seemingly included many – if not most – everyone who lives in their school district.
“Everything. Literally everything,” said senior linebacker Matt Iklodi said when asked what the championship meant. “We’ve been dreaming of this since we were in second and third grade, and saying we were going to do this. We believed it, we worked for it, and this is what happened.”
The win gives Kenston (14-1) the first state championship in football, going along with the runner-up finishes the program earned in 1986 and 1995.
As the final few minutes ticked off the clock, with Kenston kneeling out the remaining time, Grubich walked down the visiting sidelines, high-fiving and hugging supporters, many of which were from the teams from 1986 and 1995.
The massive Kenston crowd roared when he was doused with the ceremonial water bucket.
“I thought I was quicker than that,” Grubich said. “I’m getting old. I gotta work on that.”
Dodging the water jug was about the only thing that didn’t go right for Grubich.
After Alter took 6-0 lead on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Connor Bazelak to Derek Willits, Kenston went on a rampage on both sides of the ball and dominated in every facet.
Junior quarterback Jon Tomcufcik threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns, junior running back Jack Porter ran for 116 yards and three scores, and the Kenston defense pitched a shutout the rest of the way.
“We understand that when you lose, 42-6, there are no real moral victories to be found,” Alter coach Ed Domsitz said. “We were soundly beaten by a good football team.”
After Alter took the early lead, Kenston answered right back when Tomcufcik hit Bransen Stanley (4 catches, 71 yards) on a tight slant.
On Kenston’s next possession, Porter busted through untouched for a 58-yard score.
A big momentum swing happened right after that. Stanley picked off a pass from Bazelak on an underthrown ball. Then on the ensuing play, Stanley faked a slant and went vertical for a 40-yard score.
That made it 21-6 at the half, and Alter never threatened again.
Domitz said his team “felt good” about its positioning, receiving the second half kickoff. But Kenston’s defense held, gave the ball back to its offense, and then Tomcufcik hit Tyler Mintz on a 16-yard pass to make it 28-6.
Porter added touchdown runs in the late third and mid-fourth to wrap up the scoring.
It was a dominating performance by the Bombers’ offense, which piled up 425 yards.
Kenston averaged 423 yards and 40.6 points in its five postseason games.
“If they’re gonna pack the box with seven or eight guys, we’re not going to run into that,” Grubich said. “That’s just not smart. We’ll take what the defense gives us. (The offensive productivity) is a credit to those guys just calling a great game.”
Defensively, Kenston limited Alter’s wishbone offense to 122 yards rushing on 25 carries. Missouri-bound quarterback Bazelak threw for 162 yards, but was intercepted by Mintz, Stanley and Iklodi.
“We knew if we forced them to pass, we’d be in (good shape),” Iklodi said.
When the game ended, the Kenston players swarmed to the student section and celebrated with their classmates while the thousands of townspeople roared their approval.
“That’s what high school football is all about,” Grubich said.
There’s also something to be said about making dreams come true and making a name for yourselves.
The Bombers did that in one of the most dominating performances in News-Herald football history.
“We’ve been thinking about this since second grade,” Porter said. “This is a dream come true.”