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Zach Martin returns a punt for a touchdown.

Warriors blank Bexley 48-0, advance in OHSAA playoffs

By Carol McIntire

Editor

The last time Carrollton played an Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) football playoff game, Defensive Coordinator Storm Hill was a member of the team.

That was 2004. The Warriors lost to the Lake Blue Streaks in the first round.

Saturday night, on their home field, the Warriors erased that mark when they shut out the Bexley Lions 48-0 in a Division IV Region 15 first round game. They travel to Columbus to take on the No. 6 seed, Marion-Franklin, Saturday, Oct. 17, at 7 p.m.  Marion-Franklin received a first-round bye.

The structure of the OHSAA playoffs for 2020 was altered due to COVID-19. All high schools were permitted to participate in the playoffs. As teams win and advance through the bracket, they play at the site of the higher seed.  In the case of the Warriors and Red Devils, the winner will advance to play the winner of the Indian Valley vs. Carroll Bloom-Carroll game Oct. 24 at the site of the higher seeded team.

“We made history tonight,” Coach Jim Tsilimos told his team following Saturday’s game. “The 2000 (Warrior) team was in the top four. They won the first round and then got beat by Canton Central Catholic, the eventual state champions.  In 48 years of playoffs, we have just two wins. We are trying to start a tradition.”

The Warrior defense set the tone for that tradition on the second play from scrimmage. Bexley quarterback Will Cordle dropped back to pass on a second-and-seven play. In a repeat of last week’s performance, Carrollton defensive back Austin Colletti snagged the pass out of the air and ran it back for a touchdown.

Only 47 seconds had ticked off the game clock.

“Austin made a big play and set the tone for the game,” commented Hill following the game. “I’m proud of him. He had some struggles two weeks ago and he’s really stepped up his game. He’s taken some new technique things and an approach and carried them over the last two weeks.”

Jayden Lacey intercepted Cordle’s third down pass on Bexley’s next possession to set Carrollton up with a first down on the Lion 47-yard line. Eight plays later, on a fourth-and-two call, sophomore Chase Oehlstrom scampered 17 yards to the end zone. With both of Oscar Cazares’ kicks sailing through the uprights, Carrollton led 14-0 with 6:07 remaining in the first quarter.

The Warriors added another first quarter score when Oehlstrom scored from 10 yards out with 20 seconds left on the clock.

The stingy Warrior defense, which held the Lions to 94  total yards in the contest, forced a punt early in the second quarter that set Carrollton up with a first down on their own 21-yard line.

A false start penalty moved the ball back five yards. Oehlstrom picked up two yards and quarterback Luke Warner added six yards on a keeper. Facing third and seven on their own 24, Warner found senior receiver Talen Timberlake on the right sideline for a 46-yard gain to the Bexley 20-yard line.  Six plays later, Warner lunged across the goal line from one yard out. Cazares’ kick bounced off the crossbar and fell back into the field of play, giving the hosts a 27-0 lead at halftime.

The Warriors started the second half the way they did the first, with two quick scores.

Oehlstrom, who rushed for a game high 122 yards on 14 carries, scored on a 32-yard run on Carrollton’s opening possession. Brandon Gooding jumped on a fumbled punt return by Bexley to set the Warriors up with a first down on the Lions’ 32-yard line. Senior Nick Martin capped off the drive with a three-yard touchdown run less than three minutes later.

Warrior Joey Beard sacked Cordle on the first play of the next drive. That, coupled with a false start penalty, forced the Lions to punt from deep in their own territory.

Nick’s younger brother, Zach, a sophomore, fielded the punt, found an open lane and raced 59 yards to the endzone.

With Cazares’ kick, the Warriors went up 48-0 with 3:51 remaining in the third quarter.

Coach Tsilimos pulled his starters from the game and gave younger players the opportunity to experience a playoff game. The defense preserved the shut out with goal line stand late the game.”

“It was nice to see that,” Hill stated, referring to his varsity players cheering on the reserve team from the sideline as they stopped the Lions. “It’s a team game.

“They’re not worried about what one person’s success is, they want the team, they want that shutout, they want everyone to have success and carry that momentum over into next week.”

Tsilimos was proud of the defensive effort of his team, which held Bexley to seven first downs, 75 yards rushing and 19 yards passing. The Warriors had 317 yards of total offense, including 191 rushing and 126 passing. Warner completed 8 of 13 attempts. Timberlake three passes for 82 yards. Haney pulled in one pass for 20 yards.

Defensively, Carrollton forced Bexley into committing three turnovers, two interceptions and one fumble. Brandon Gooding led the team in tackles with 4.5, three solo tackles, three assists and one tackle for loss. Joey Beard was credited with four tackles, three solo tackles, two assists, one tackle for loss and one sack.

Cole Peoples added three tackles, two solo, and two assists.

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