By Ryan Kaczmarski
The story could not have been written better by a Hollywood screenwriter.
Trailing 14-10, with 1:38 remaining in the game, and 80 yards in front of them for a score, Lutheran West quarterback Greg Kunze drove the Longhorns down the field, and as time expired, tossed a prayer to 6-foot, 4-inch wide receiver Brad Warnkin. Warnkin used his height and wingspan to jump and grab the ball at the three-yard line and stretch it over the goal line for the 16-14 win, sending rival Fairview home for the season.
“The play was a flood going the other way, so I kind of ran a decoy route,” Warnkin said. “Kunze was in trouble, so I looked for other places to go.
“He threw it up, and once I caught it, I knew I had a chance to score, but I didn’t know how far away the goal line was,” he added. “So I went ‘Space Jam’ and stretched it as far as I could and got it in.”
The final drive of the game started with a 1-yard run, then Kunze heaved a 56-yard pass to senior Derek Naim. After two more running plays – netting -2 yards – and an incompletion, the Longhorns faced fourth-and-25 at the Warriors 25, with eight seconds remaining.
Kunze dropped back, scrambled around for his life, then threw the pass of his career.
“It’s the last play of the game, and our senior year, and we ended it with a bang,” Kunze said. “This was an awesome way to end the season.
“Our line did a great job blocking up front, so I stepped up it the pocket and I had no one to throw it to. I came back around and saw (Warnkin), my best receiver, and put it up to him,” he continued. “When it left my hand I knew it was going to get to him. I knew it was a touchdown right away.”
Kunze finished the game completing 11 of 21 passes for 162 yards, while Warnkin had three catches for 41 yards.
Fairview’s Drew Kostos led all rushing in the game with 176 yards.
The win gave the Longhorns a final record of 6-4, and nearly put them into the OHSAA state playoffs, while Fairview ended its season 8-2 and also nearly made the playoffs.
“We’re certainly happy,” Lutheran West head coach Dave Stupka said. “It’s a great way to end this season.”