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Bengals tame Bay in regional championship

Division IV playoffs

Story and photos by Ryan Kaczmarski

The ride has now come to a full and complete stop.

But what a ride it was for the Bay High School varsity football team. The Rockets turned their fortunes around from an abysmal 1-9 record in 2013, to winning eight games in 2014, making the playoffs for the first time in 21 years and coming one win from the OHSAA Division IV state semifinals.

That ride was stopped in its tracks as No. 1-seeded Benedictine defeated the Rockets, 35-7, on their way to the Region 11 championship Friday night at Boulton Stadium.

“The run we had this year is huge for our program,” Bay first-year head coach Ron Rutt said. “Our underclassmen now see what it takes; and they see that if they put in the work, great things can happen.

“Who knows what can happen next year.”

Rutt just beamed about the 13 members of the senior class on his squad.

“They’re the ones that engineered the turnaround this season, and they made history,” he said. “That is something that will never be forgotten as we look back on this season.”

The Bay defense had its hands full all night with the two-headed rushing attack from Benedictine’s Dontez Rash and Jerome Baker. Rash ran 31 times for 165 yards and two touchdowns, while Baker rushed the ball 16 times for 162 yards and two more touchdowns.

“We were kind of mixing up the front line defensively – throw a few different looks at them – and see what we could do to try and slow them down,” Rutt explained. “They just have a great running attack that can do some different things, as far as putting (Baker) in the wildcat, and they’re just tough to stop.

“We gave up the one big play, which is not too bad considering what (Benedictine) has been able to do this year.”

The big play Rutt referred to was a 77-yard scoring run that Baker had out of the wildcat formation, which put the Bengals up 14-0 with 3:34 left in the first quarter.

Bay was able to mount a long scoring drive in the second quarter, with quarterback John Koz connecting on passes to Rex Sunahara and Danny Heideloff, while Nick Best ground out yardage between the tackles. Benedictine helped out with a couple big defensive penalties before Best capped the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run (PAT by Cole Gergye) to make the score 14-7 going into the half.

“We felt great at halftime, really,” Rutt admitted. “We felt that we weathered the storm at the start of the game, and got some momentum back, getting within seven points.

“We’ve been a second-half team all year long, and we felt great coming out of the break, but we weren’t able to put it together in the second half like we wanted to.”

Rutt also credits the Benedictine defense on shutting out the Rockets in the second half, the first time that feat had been accomplished this year, and holding Best to 63 yards on 21 carries.

“They’re quick defensively,” he said. “They were shooting gaps, which gave us problems getting into the running lanes.”

The Rockets finished the season with an overall record of 8-4.

 

 

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