By Ryan Kaczmarski
Just one more yard. That is what came between the Westlake football team, and moving on in the Division II postseason, as the Demons fell to Madison High School 14-7 in overtime, in the first round of the OHSAA playoffs.
After Madison scored a touchdown in its overtime possession, the Demons mounted a drive starting from the opponent’s 20-yard line. They went 19 yards on 8 plays, but it was the last yard that was found to be the most elusive.
With fourth and goal to go, Westlake quarterback Kent Axcell dropped back to pass, but all of the Demons receivers were covered. Axcell then saw some daylight and started sprinting toward the goal line. He was met by a group of Madison defenders at the 1-yard line, and the game was over.
The Westlake defense only allowed one reception by the Madison offense all game, unfortunately it came on the Rams’ first play in overtime, which went for a touchdown.
“It was a great play call,” Westlake head coach Mark Campo said. “(Their defense) was pretty solid too.
“Our defense hung tough all night,” Campo added. “They were out there (on the field) a lot, and they made (Madison) earn everything that they got. I’m proud of the way that they played and I’m proud of the way our kids fought right to the end, and came up about a half a yard short of maybe playing a little bit longer.”
Westlake scored on its first offensive play from scrimmage, a 93-yard touchdown run by junior quarterback Kent Axcell (PAT by Sean Bigley) to give the Demons the early 7-0 lead, which they carried into halftime. The score would stay at 7-0 until the fourth quarter, when Madison mounted a 5-play, 35-yard touchdown drive, capped by a 15-yard run by junior running back Kalvin Gordon (PAT good), to tie it up at 7-7, and take the tie into over time.
The Demons were led by the seniors all season. Shawn Turk led the team in interceptions, as well as being second on the team in rushing and receiving. Logan Paul led the team in rushing, amassing 1,371 yards in the regular season alone.
“It’s a special group of kids,” Campo said. “They have a special bond with each other. They truly led this program in all the right ways that any coach would want their seniors to lead. They worked hard and got better (throughout the season). They fought every game, like they did tonight – no matter the circumstances – they believed in themselves and I’m privileged to have coached them.”
Madison head coach Sean Conway had nothing but praise for the Demons after the game.
“Westlake is a great football program,” he said. “They’re doing a great job. I think their coaches put them in great spots and they had us down at halftime.
“We had to make adjustments and come out fighting, and our kids did that.”
Although the Demons are done for this season, no one can take away the fact that they are the Southwestern Conference champions (the first SWC championship since 1984) and made the postseason for the first time since 1989.
“When you get a group of kids like this, obviously you don’t want the season to end,” Campo said. “They did a great job representing our football program and representing our school.”