Published in The Plain Dealer
November 17, 2018
WARREN, Ohio — Only longtime Kenston followers know much about the last time the Bombers went this far into a football season.
“It’s the greatest thing,” senior running back Jack Porter said after he scored three touchdowns and Kenston rolled to a rather easy 33-7 win over Canfield in a Division III, Region 9 regional championship game at Warren G. Harding’s Mollenkopf Stadium on Friday night.
“It’s been 23 years. We want to bring that tradition back.”
Kenston (13-1), Ohio’s fourth-ranked Division III team, will play a state semifinal next Friday at a site to be determined against the winner of Friday’s game between Columbus Eastmoor Academy and Thornville Sheridan. It will be Kenston’s third appearance in the state final four, including a state runner-up finish in 1995.
Third-ranked Canfield (11-2) boasts a premier running game and a defense that had held its opponents to 8.7 points per game. But Kenston played a 4-4 defense instead of its usual 3-4, and limited the Cardinals to 198 total yards, more than a third of which came on Canfield’s lone scoring drive, capped by Mehlyn Clinkscale’s 1-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter, cutting Kenston’s lead to 17-7.
The Bombers offense was efficient the entire game, however, totaling 362 yards, and it built the Kenston lead to 24-7 with a 4 1/2-minute drive. It ended with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Jon Tomcufcik to Bransen Stanley on a fourth-and-16 play, with Stanley out-jumping a Canfield defender in the end zone to make the catch.
The reception was Stanley’s ninth and last of the game, for 142 yards. He also intercepted a pass in the Kenston end zone on the game’s final play. Tomcufcik finished with 15 completions in 22 attempts for 209 yards, giving him 2,651 passing yards and 24 touchdowns on the season.
Porter, a senior who was a first-team all-state election last season, ran for 156 yards and the three scores on 35 carries, boosting his season totals to 2,117 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns.
“Big catches, big catches,” Kenston coach Jeff Grubich said of Stanley’s effort. “We have a good quarterback and four or five guys we can throw to. And, we had to shut Kenston’s run game down. If you want to win a state title and win the games to get there, you have to be able to run the ball and to stop the run. The guys in our front eight on defense shut them down.”
Linemen Mitch Sotera, Jacob Engelhart and Tim Matty, and linebackers Joseph Staudenbaur and Matt Iklodi keyed Kenston’s defense.
The Bombers closed the scoring in the fourth quarter when Tyler Mintz intercepted a Canfield pass, leading to a 7-yard Porter touchdown run, and on Anna Sanders’ 28-yard field goal after David Cooper recovered a Cardinals fumble.
Kenston went 67 yards on the first possession of the game, going ahead, 7-0, on Porter’s 1-yard touchdown plunge and the first of two Sanders’ extra points. Tomcufcik completed all four of his passes on the drive for 35 yards.
The Bombers upped their lead to 10-0 on their next possession. Stanley made a leaping catch along the left sideline of a Tomcufcik pass for 38 yards to the Cardinals’ 13, setting up Sanders’ 24-yard field goal with 1:56 to go in the first quarter.
A 26-yard pass from Tomcufcik to Mintz and Porter’s 22-yard run led to a 3-yard Porter touchdown run midway through the third quarter, with Blake Torres kicking the extra point for a 17-0 Kenston lead.