CANTON — As Glenville head coach Ted Ginn Jr. accepted the Division IV state championship trophy, tears welled in his eyes. A 25-year journey as a head coach had finally reached its dramatic conclusion.
Ginn Sr. and the Tarblooders finally could call themselves state champions after an emotional 26-6 win over Wyoming in the title game at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
Glenville — in the playoffs for the 19th time since 1999, all with Ginn as coach — became the third first-time state champion of the weekend. The Tarblooders led most of the night to join two other Northeast Ohio schools, South Range and Canfield, as new champions. Glenville also became the first Cleveland Metropolitan School District football team to win a state championship in the OHSAA playoff era.
Those factors made the win mean so much to Ginn Sr. and his team. There also were a couple of close calls over the years. The Tarblooders nearly delivered the milestone twice in the past. Glenville lost by a single point in Division II state championship games in 2009 and 2013. Glenville left nothing to chance Saturday, scoring 20 unanswered points after an early 6-6 tie to earn the title.
“When I started there were people that told me that they couldn’t see how I would ever accomplish my goal of winning a state championship,” Ginn said. “Unfortunately, a lot of those people are dead and gone. I wish they were still here so I could show them this group of kids. They’ve done a lot to take away the stigma that inner-city schools can’t achieve at the highest level.”
Glenville won it in style, too, finishing 15-0 this season and dominating a two-time former state championship team in the title game. The Tarblooders outgained Wyoming 358-276 and forced three turnovers.
Glenville junior running back D’Shawntae Jones powered the effort. He scored three touchdowns for the Tarblooders.
“I have to thank my offensive line,” Jones said. “They were moving people out of the way for me. They were getting me to that second level and giving me 1-on-1 matchups against linebackers. They were doing everything. I was just running.”
While Jones thrived, the Glenville defense largely stymied star Wyoming running back CJ Hester, an Ohio Mr. Football finalist. Hester had 3,074 yards rushing and 48 touchdowns coming into the game Saturday but was limited to just 98 yards on 12 carries. Most of those yards came on an 81-yard TD run out of the wildcat with 4:45 left in the first quarter. Hester was knocked out of the game in the second half and was placed in concussion protocol.
“We lost 26-6 to a good team,” Wyoming head coach Aaron Hancock said. “We had 21 seniors that have done a great job for us all four years. They have nothing to hang their heads about. We went 50-4 and our only losses were to state champions or eventual state champions.”
Hester's 81-yard TD ended up being the defining highlight for the Cowboys. It is the longest rushing touchdown in an OHSAA Division IV state title game. The previous record was 68 yards held by Cardinal Mooney’s Mark Hendel (2013) and Ursuline’s Delbert Ferguson (2000).
For Ginn Sr., the aftermath was a chance to reflect on his incredible career.
“I spent my moments after receiving the trophy thanking people,” Ginn Sr. said. “There are just so many people over the years that helped make this happen.”
Here’s a look at some of the key things to know about the game:
Player of the Game: D’Shawntae Jones, RB, Glenville
D'Shawntae Jones was a reliable source of offense all night for the Tarblooders. Jones — the nephew of former Glenville, Ohio State and NFL quarterback Cardale Jones — gashed Wyoming for 195 yards on 28 carries. He averaged 7.0 yards per carry. He scored on runs of 29, 1 and 45 yards. The first two TDs came in the second quarter after Hester's long scoring run. The 45-yarder put the game away early in the third. It's easy to see why the explosive junior has Division I offers already from Kentucky, Syracuse and Marshall.
Play of the Game: Glenville tight end Demarion Witten catches long TD pass from Deonte Rucker to open scoring
The Wyoming coverage was perfect. The defensive back was right in Demartion Witten’s chest. It didn’t matter. The 6-foot-3 Division I prospect simply reached over the smaller defender near the 10, snatched the Deonte Rucker pass out of the air, threw him to the ground and rumbled untouched for a 39-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the game for Glenville. The gaudy display of athleticism and strength set the tone for the evening for the Tarblooders. Witten has an offer from Ohio State.
Three stats to a title
0: The number of turnovers committed by Glenville. The Tarblooders controlled field position throughout the contest. Glenville also intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble. Winning the turnover category was key to the victory.
17: The number of yards rushing Wyoming standout CJ Hester was held to by the Glenville defense after subtracting his 81-yard TD run in the first quarter running out the wildcat. Hester had been unstoppable on the way to gaining more than 3,000 yards rushing and finishing as a Mr. Football finalist this season before running into the Tarblooders.
Ohio High School Footballl:Moeller's Jordan Marshall, Wyoming's C.J. Hester denied Ohio Mr. Football
81: The number of total receiving yards for Glenville TE Demarion Witten. Witten caught three of Glenville’s five pass completions and was a clutch target for the Tarblooders.
They said it
Glenville head coach Ted Ginn Sr. on if he feels if his work as a coach was finished for the year: "My work is just beginning. I have 20 seniors whose futures I need to be concerned with. Football is just a game. The lives of these kids are what I am most concerned about and making sure they have the things they need.”
Glenville running back D’Shawntae Jones on winning the state title for Ginn Sr.: "It’s emotional. I want to cry. There are too many cameras, though. I want to be tough in this situation. It means so much to deliver this for the city of Cleveland and especially for coach Ginn."
Glenville linebacker Arvell Reese on helping Ginn Sr win his first state championship: “It’s a really big moment. It’s long overdue. I can’t explain the significance of it right now. It’s hard to put into words.”
Wyoming offensive lineman Wyatt Metz on facing off against the Glenville defensive front: “We knew coming in that the defensive line was big and the linebackers were really good. We knew the war up front was going to decide this game. We tried as hard as we could tonight.”
This article originally appeared on The Repository: Cleveland Glenville football wins OHSAA state championship