This is one of the biggest high school football confrontations in Ohio.
Salem and West Branch delivered their powerful attacks in front of 5,100 fans at West Branch’s Clinton Heacock Stadium on Saturday night.
Down 38-35 with 7:53 left, West Branch had two crucial interceptions and two long runs from midfielder Dru DeShields to topple the Quakers, 48-38.
“This (the win over Salem) means a lot because it’s my last year here,” DeShields said afterward. “That might be the last time we play Salem, I don’t know, we might see them in the knockout (on the road).”
West Branch finished the regular season 9-1 and secured the #1 spot in the Region 13’s Region IV IT rankings.
“Congratulations to them, they have a great team and they played better than us tonight,” Salem head coach Ron Johnson said. “They (Quakers) are a big competitor and the rivalry is real,” West Branch head coach Tim Cooper said. “I said pre-season is their game, it’s their Super Bowl, and that’s our goal as well.”
West Branch senior quarterback Dru DeShields had a great night for the Warriors, completing 20 of 29 320-meter passes, two points in the air and one on the ground.
Salem’s full-back Jackson Johnson, 19 of 29 with 250 yards, three points in the air and a hasty touchdown.
Salem finished the regular season 6-4 and will also be in the D4 knockout stages next Friday night. Salem scored in the second half on a 12-meter run from Cletus Monroy in the third and on a 12-meter pass from Johnson to Dillon Monroy as well as a six-meter run from Jackson Johnson that gave the Quakers 38-35 the lead with 7:53 to go. West Branch’s second-half goal came from a 38-yard pass from DeShields to Christian Martig and two DeShields runs from one yard. A scoreline was created by an interception from warrior Hudson Brink on a key Salem drive late in the game.
“These kids don’t flinch no matter what,” Cooper said. “That’s what makes them special, there is no abandonment and no doubt.” “It’s frustrating, twice we got hit and the ball went straight into the air (to intercept) and that was the difference of the game,” Johnson said. “I’m really proud of our kids and we have to keep getting better every day,” said West Branch’s Cooper.
Beau Alazau also had a West Branch intercept. In an attacking penalty shootout, West Branch scored 4/5 possessions in the first half, and Salem scored 4 of 5 possessions in the first 24 minutes.
West Branch took a 14-10 lead after a run against Boston Mulinix scored a three-yard run in the Warriors’ first possession. Joey Jackson added to the transition and West Branch led 8-0 at 10:18 in the first quarter. Salem answered on his first drive, which ended with a 25-yard goal from Hayden Tomidajewicz.
West Branch made a successful 14-3 then when receiver Christian Martig hit a 55-yard overhead shot from Dru DeShields. The two-point conversion dropped and the Warriors led 14-3 at 3:17 of the first inning. But Salem roared with successive touchdowns to his next two properties, capped those hits with a 12-yard pitch from Jackson to Ross Davidson and a 23-yard hit for Caden Swiger as the Quakers. 17-14 lead after two boots converted by Hayden Tomidajewicz. The score was fixed by a tumble restored on a kick by the Quakers’ Marcus Phillips. The two teams swapped points when West Branch responded with DeShields’ one-yard forward kick and Eliza Hirst’s point conversion.
- rival Salem is defeated by West Branch, 48-38
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