Published in The Plain Dealer
November 30, 2018
CANTON, Ohio — For the last 90 seconds Friday, Kenston football coach Jeff Grubich paced the sideline with a sense of paranoia.
He knew some of his players had a cold water jug, ready to douse him.
Even with a running clock in Kenston’s 42-6 Division III state championship win vs. Kettering Archbishop Alter, time could not run out fast enough. Turns out, neither was Grubich, soaked before the clock struck zero.
“I thought I was quicker than that,” he said. “I’m getting old.”
His team was plenty quick.
The Bombers (14-1) rallied from an early turnover and deficit to score 42 unanswered points in their OHSAA title game at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Junior quarterback Jon Tomcufcik threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns on an efficient 16-of-23 passing. Junior Jack Porter ran 20 times for 116 yards and scored three TDs. Meanwhile, senior receiver Bransen Stanley sparked the early turnaround with an interception and 40-yard touchdown reception on back-to-back plays.
The efforts helped Kenston to its first state football crown in school history.
Grubich, in his seventh season, made up for his lack of quick feet in the final seconds with quick thinking by him and his coaching staff. With Alter (13-2) scheming to stop Porter and the Kenston running attack, much of the first half offense relied on the arm of Tomcufcik.
“If they’re going to pack the box and run a bear defense and have seven or eight dudes, we’re not going to run into that,” Grubich said. “That’s not smart.”
Alter gave up more than 14 points only once before the state championship game. Kenston scored 21 by halftime, and kept its offensive firepower going the rest of the way. The Bombers already had 5,992 yards entering this game. They added another 425.
“I think we have the best receiver staff in the state of Ohio,” Tomcufcik said. “It’s just awesome throwing to those guys because they’re straight up playmakers.”
Many will be back next season, except for All-Ohio tackle Alex Robarge and Stanley, to name two. After missing the playoffs last year by mere percentage points, despite an 8-2 record, they savored this run.
“This is what I’ve dreamt of,” Stanley said. “This is what we’ve all dreamt of.”
Contact sports reporter Matt Goul on Twitter (@mgoul) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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