Delphos St. John’s (7-4) and Lehman Catholic (10-1) will lock horns Friday in a Division VII Region 28, semifinal at 7:30 pm at Allen East High School. The two teams met in the state semifinals in both 2008 and 2010, with DSJ winning both along the way to winning state titles. For the Blue Jays, it is their 18th playoff appearance, where they hold a 53-11 record with six titles in seven championship appearances. Lehman Catholic is making their fifth consecutive appearance in the postseason and are trying to win their first ever state title coming out of a loaded region.
When Delphos St. John’s has the football:
Junior quarterback Jared Wurst provides the St. John’s offense with their heartbeat. Wurst has 1,072 yards with five touchdowns through the air and he also leads the team with 603 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns. Wurst shares the backfield in St. John’s offense with Cole Reindel, who has added 470 yards on the ground. Curtis Schwinnen led the receivers in the regular season with 16 catches for 251 yards and Connor Hulihan added 15 receptions for 206 yards.
Michael Bunker leads the Cavaliers defense 13 sacks and is the leader and spark plug of the defense. He is helped by Tyler Sollman (69 tackles), Drew Barhorst (68 tackles), and Braiden Sherman (56 tackles). They do a phenomenal job of forcing teams into three and out drives, giving the explosive offense more opportunities to wear out defenses as well as scoreboards.
When Lehman Catholic has the ball:
Junior Quarterback Elliott Gilardi (6’0, 165 lb) completed 9-of-11 passes for 81 yards and two TDs in the Cavaliers win over Perry last week, while senior running back Owen Smith (5-11, 170) rushed for 181 yards on 13 carries. Gilardi has 1,440 yards, with 24 touchdowns and five interceptions through the air. The dual-threat has also rushed for 950 yards and 17 TD’s. He is joined in the backfield by Owen Smith, who has run through defenses for 1,727 yards and 21 touchdowns. When Gilardi decides to throw he favors senior receiver Kameron Lee (516 yards and seven touchdowns).
Troy Elwer leads the Blue Jays with 117 tackles, while Isaac Musser has 106, and Troy Schwinnen has added another 105 tackles to give Delphos St. John’s a tough run defense to go along with five interceptions. Finally, Matthew Miller has given opposing quarterbacks headaches with his three interceptions.
Key to the game:
If St. John’s can use the experience of going up against tough opposition week in and week out, they could pull the upset. They must take care of the ball better than they have throughout the 2017 campaign and Wurst will have to have his best game thus far in his high school football career.