Those dreams are a reality for Perkins.
The Pirates capped a perfect season and captured their second straight SBC championship with a 69-13 victory Saturday night over St. Mary Central Catholic at Strobel Field.
“We wanted to come out here and defend what was ours,” said Perkins coach Jason Ziegler. “I’m so proud of this because because they’ve dealt with a lot of adversity. We have pay-to-participate, we had our team captain (Tony Didion) get injured in Week 1 and was out for the season and we lost our starting quarterback (David Doster).” “I’m proud of the way our kids stepped up each week and now we get to go to the second season,” he added.
The official announcement will be made Sunday afternoon, but Perkins figured it would host either Norwalk or Napoleon at Firelands Regional Medical Center Field at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the opening round of the Division III playoffs.
Perkins finished undefeated for first time since back-to-back perfect seasons in 1999—when it captured the Division IV state football title with a 15-0 mark—and 2000, when it won the Division IV Associated Press poll championship.
It was the end of an era for the Panthers, who held a 26-25 edge in the all-time series heading into the game. They move out of the SBC and into the newly formed Sandusky River League next year and are no longer scheduled to take on their cross-town rivals.
“We knew coming into that this was going to be the best football team we faced all year,” SMCC coach Ryan Wikel said. “We wish them nothing but the best of luck. We know they are going to represent our area in the right way.
“Coach Ziegler is doing a great job with that program, which is doing things the right way. This game could have been worse, but it was a classy move on their part to play their JVs most of the second half. We wish them the best and we’ll move on.”
The game got away from the Panthers quickly as it took less that eight minutes for the Pirates to grab a 21-0 lead on long runs from John Workman, Jermy Miller and Dale Irby.
St. Mary CC got one score back when Trevor Fitzthum hit Denarius Harris on for an 11-yard gain, with Harris flipping the ball to Hayden Snow, who took it the remaining 82 yards for a score.
But Irby answered with a 50-yard touchdown run and TreyVon Moore scored from the 4 to make it a 34-7 Perkins lead at the end of the first quarter.
Irby hauled in a 22-yard Matt Schweinfurth pass for his third score of the game with Kyle Lewis returning a blocked punt for a touchdown and Matt Cremean adding a 27-yard field goal to push the lead to 51-7 at the intermission.
We talked about starting fast,” Ziegler said. “We thought we let Oak Harbor hang around a little bit last week until we put it on. And that’s a dangerous team over there.
“Coach Wikel and his staff do a great job. I have all the respect in the world for the Panthers. They play hard as you could see at the end of this game.”
Adam Snyder tacked on two 6-yard scoring runs in the third quarter and Ryan Harris scored from the 3 to finish the scoring for the Pirates. In between the two Snyder touchdown runs, Snow and Fitzthum hooked up on a 24-yard scoring strike for the Panthers.
Fitzthum came into the game holding the SMCC single-season passing marks for yardage (1,895) and touchdowns (20). The junior, who was 7 of 16 passing on the night, but sacked five times, added 140 yards passing to the total to complete the season with 2,035 yards and 22 scores.
T.J. Blanton set the the old yardage mark with 1,542 yards in 12 games in 2006, while the touchdown record was set in 1965 by Dan Brady.
Carson Dye rushed for 75 yards on 10 carries while Snow had two catches for 106 yards. Harris also came into the game with the school’s single-season record with 60 receptions, set by Adam Olds in 2005 with 50, but came 38 yards shy of the 848 he needed to break Olds’ yardage mark.
“We sent out a special groups of seniors,” Wikel said. “They bought into the program and worked hard from Day One. They showed good leadership, and that’s all we can ask for from that group.”
Perkins piled up 510 yards rushing on the night with Irby picking up 171 yards on 11 carries, with touchdown runs of 23 and 50 yards. Workman chipped in 102 yards on nine tries, including a 36-yard scoring scamper, while Miller rushed for 93 yards on four carries.