La Salle Completes Repeat With Dominating Win

12/05/2015

Posted on 12/5/2015 at 9:46 a.m.

Lancers Defeat Massillon Perry To Capture Second Straight Football Title

It seemed only fitting that Jeremy Larkin, Nick Watson and Jarell White each scored a touchdown in the season’s biggest game.  Combine that with the Lancers’ first shutout of the season, and it all added up to a successful defense of the school’s state football title via a convincing 42-0 La Salle victory over Massillon Perry in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division II Championship before 11,168 fans Friday at Ohio Stadium in Columbus.

The victory capped an amazing two-year postseason run for La Salle (13-2), which extended its playoff winning streak to 10 games (defeating its opposition by an average margin of 32.6 points in those games).  In the process, La Salle became the first school in Division II history to win back-to-back state titles since St. Marys Memorial captured consecutive titles in 1992 and 1993.

Since the OHSAA went to five divisions in 1980, only Akron Bucthtel (1987 and 1988), St. Marys Memorial and now La Salle have won back-to-back state titles at the Division II level.

The Lancers also joined its three Greater Catholic South Division colleagues in winning two state championships since 2002 – when Elder won the first of two straight state crowns, also winning the Division I title in 2003.  St. Xavier brought home DI state championships in 2005 and 2007, and Moeller won two straight state crowns in 2012 and 2013.   GCL: South schools have now won state championships in each of the last four seasons.

La Salle dominated the game against Perry (12-3), getting offensive touchdowns from its backfield trio of Larkin, Watson and White, along with the Lancers’ first shutout of the season in a game that included a defensive TD and strong special teams play – highlighted by a 32-yard return of a botched Perry pun by senior linebacker John Willcox that led to the first of two Larkin TDs.

That big pay followed senior lineman Luke Doerger, starting a school-record 50th straight game, recovering a fumble in the end zone to give La Salle a 7-0 lead.   Larkin’s second rushing TRD gave La Salle a 21-0 halftime lead, and then White caught a 9-yard TD pass from Watson to extend La Salle’s advantage to 28-0.  Perry’s defense had only allowed 28 points in its previous four playoff games.

Watson then scored on a 32-yard run in the third quarter to make it 35-0, and finally senior defensive back Tre’Sean Smith returned an interception 47 yards for the game’s final score.  La Salle’s defense came up big for the second consecutive game.  One week earlier, the Lancers held Perrysburg to just one TD in the second half as La Salle rallied from a 21-14 halftime deficit to record a 21-point victory.

In the end it was simply another lopsided postseason win for La Salle, which won its five playoff games this season by an average of 34.4 points.  Coach Jim Hilvert’s team scored 42 or more points in all five games, and never had a final outcome closer than 21 points – the state semifinal 49-28 win over previously undefeated and the state’s No. 1-ranked team Perrysburg seven days earlier.

Larkin, who is committed to play at the University of Cincinnati, capped an amazing career by scoring twice in the state final.  He finished with 11 rushes for 62 yards, while also catching three passes for 57 yards.  Larkin totaled 1,825 yards rushing and 28 rushing TDs in the 10 playoff games the last two seasons – an average of 182.5 yards and just under three scores per game.  He finished this season with 38 total TDs.

White, who spent much of his junior season helping out the Lancers’ defense, became a solid two-way threat – evidenced by his nine rushes for a team-high 92 yards to go along with double-digit tackles in the state final.  And Watson, the Lancers’ senior quarterback, again proved to be a problem for opponents whether passing or running the football.

For Hilvert, who came to the Lancers after a successful coaching stint at NCAA Division III Thomas More College before this season, Friday’s victory finished what the Lancers’ senior class started last year by winning the school’s first state football title led by then coach Nate Moore.  The Lancers’ lone defeats the last two seasons have been to GCL South colleagues Elder (week 10 this year) and St. Xavier twice (once each season).