Not that Cuyahoga Heights needed any more motivation in its season finale against rival Independence but with a win the Redskins would clinch the top seed in the Division VII, Region 25 playoffs.
With that in mind, the Redskins downed the Blue Devils, 31-12.
“Our main focus this week was to prepare for and try to beat a playoff caliber team,” Cuyahoga Heights coach Al Martin said. “We also wanted to secure a second place finish in the league.”
Sam Shafer ran for 52 yards and three touchdowns and also threw for 81 yards and recorded nine tackles and two quarterback hurries to lead the Redskins.
“Sam Shafer played a great game for us tonight,” Martin said. “He had some excellent runs and completed passes in key situations.”
Shafer ran for a 21-yard touchdown in the first quarter then responded to an Independence touchdown with a 20-yard scoring run to give the Redskins a 14-6 lead midway through the second quarter.
Independence added a touchdown pass to cut the Redskin lead to 14-12 but Cuyahoga Heights added 27-yard field goal by Ryan Rose to push the lead to 17-12 at the break.
Shafer scored his third touchdown of the night in the third quarter and Brayden DiSanza, who carried 21 times for 135 yards, closed out the scoring with a fourth-quarter touchdown run. DiSanza also recorded 16 tackles on defense.
“It was a very sloppy game by both teams in terms of penalties and turnovers,” Martin said. “We hurt ourselves in the first half with mistakes and Independence hurt themselves in the second half. Each team had only one drive in the third quarter. I think the score at the end of the third quarter gave us the momentum in a hard-fought game.”
Max Alpert and Alex Studniarz both recorded interceptions for Cuyahoga Heights and Kyle Calvey and Ryan Selig finished with 14 and 12 tackles, respectively.
“Ryan Selig and Brayden DiSanza led our team defensively trying to slow down Independence’s running attack,” Martin said. “Alex Studniarz had a key reception in the third quarter in the red zone and intercepted a pass. Kyle Calvey stepped up to play for injured senior Richie Allison and performed very well. Our offensive line did a nice job against a tough Independence defensive front.”
The Redskins improved to 8-2 while the Blue Devils finished the year 6-4.
Cuyahoga Heights clinched the No. 1 seed and will host a playoff game next week for the third straight season. Pairings will be announced on Sunday.
“Our players are very excited to get the opportunity to host a playoff game,” Martin said. “It will be exciting for the whole community.”