A look back at champs Kirtland, Kenston
Relive the glory one more time with a look back at the state championship seasons of Kirtland and Kenston.
Week 1, Kirtland 43, Chagrin
Falls 0: Armed with an experience roster still smarting from a 34-11 loss to Marion Local in the 2017 state championship game, Kirtland got its season off to a rousing start with a 43-0 win over Chagrin Falls. Jake Neibecker ran for 66 yards and two touchdowns, Joey Torok ran for 130 yards and a score, and both Luke Gardner and Mason Sullivan scored on the ground. Week 2, Kirtland 49, Columbia 7: In a game that featured two teams with big playoff goals, Kirtland buried visiting Columbia. Jake Neibecker ran for 121 yards and two scores, while Joey Torok ran for 113 yards and two scores. Columbia’s all-Ohio running back Brandon Coleman was held to less than 30 yards rushing. Week 3, Kirtland 35, Geneva 0: With the Eagles’ defense stacking the box against the run-oriented Hornets, Kirtland QB Tommy Powers completed 11 of 14 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns. Kirtland did manage to run for 228 yards in the game, but it was the passing that opened many eyes. Powers hit Mason Sullivan and Jake Neibecker for touchdown passes. Week 4, Kirtland 58, Cardinal 6:
Six different Hornets scored touchdowns as part of a 510-yard
offensive outburst. Joey Torok and Mason Sullivan each scored a pair of touchdowns. The Hornets averaged 12.8 yards per play in the game.
Week 5, Kirtland 13, Richmond Heights 0: In one of the more bizarre happenings in area football history, Richmond Heights departed Kirtland’s Rogers’ field midway through the first quarter and went home, giving the Hornets a 13-0 win. Kirtland scored on its first two possessions of the game before Richmond Heights decided it did not have enough healthy players to continue playing the game. Week 6, Kirtland 42, Cuyahoga Heights 6: In a game that was billed as the potential CVC Valley title game, it wasn’t a game. Joey Torok scored the first three times he touched the ball, with touchdown runs of 72, 63 and 63 yards in the first quarter. He finished with six carries for 274 yards and four touchdowns. Week 7, Kirtland 42, Fairport 0:
The Hornets topped the Skippers and gave up negative-24 yards rushing, but the highlight of this game was a 43-yard touchdown reception by 6-4, 300-pound offensive lineman Jack Bailey. Luke Gardner ran for 100 yards on three carries, while Joey Torok ran for 96 yards on three totes. Powers threw for 80 yards and a pair of scores. Week 8, Kirtland 43, Berkshire
6: only After time falling this season behind, the 6-0, Hornets the trailed, Kirtland scored 43 unanswered points for an easy win. Joey Torok ran for 204 yards and three touchdowns. Jake Neibecker ran for 74 yards and two scores. Week 9, Kirtland 50, Independence 0: The Hornets clinched at least a tie for the CVC Valley title with a strong performance against Independence. Joey Torok touched the ball four times and scored three touchdowns before exiting the game early. He ran for 91 yards on three carries. Luke Gardner ran for 83 yards and a score. Jonathan Ridgeway led the team with 64 yards passing. Week 10, Kirtland 34, Wickliffe 7: The Hornets wrapped up a perfect regular season with a win over Wickliffe, which could have forged a tie for the CVC Valley title with a victory. Kirtland got 153 yards and three touchdowns from Joey Torok, with Jake Neibecker running for 130 yards and a score. Tommy Powers threw for 112 yards. Week 11, Kirtland 59, Steubenville Catholic Central 0 :
Kirtland got its postseason off to a rousing start by hammering Catholic Central in a game that saw the Hornets score five times in the first quarter alone. Senior Joey Torok ran for 132 yards on only six carries, scoring four times. Tommy Powers threw for 123 yards and a score, and also ran for 56 yards and a score. The Hornets
outgained the Crusaders, 435-93. Catholic Central’s QB entered the game with more than 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards passing, but was held to less than 50 total yards.
Week 12, Kirtland 35, Norwayne 0: The Hornets flexed their muscles in a running-clock win over Norwayne in a game that featured two high-powered offenses. Norwayne’s never materialized. Kirtland swarmed Norwayne’s offense, holding the Bobcats to 124 total yards and only 26 yards rushing. The Hornets piled on the rushing yards, as usual, with Jake Neibecker running for 132 yards and Joey Torok running for 122. Torok scored twice on the ground, as did QB Tommy Powers. Week 13, Kirtland 20, Mogadore
14: The Hornets won the regional championship with a tight win over Mogadore, with Joey Torok scoring a late touchdown to put Kirtland in the final four for the seventh time in program history. Mogadore had no answer for Torok all night. He ran for 166 yards and two touchdowns, and also caught a 47-yard touchdown pass. Kirtland outgained Mogadore, 346-233. Mogadore became the first team this season to score a rushing touchdown against the Hornets. Week 14, Kirtland 35, Fort Frye 18: Kirtland continued its dominance in state semifinals, defeating Fort Frye to improve to 7-0 all-time in state semis. Jake
Neibecker ran for 154 yards, Tommy Powers ran for 121 and Joey Torok ran for 89 to lead Kirtland’s 390-yard rushing attack. The Hornets (14-0) outgained Fort Frye, 447-291. Kirtland only led, 21-18, at the half, and struggled at times against Fort Frye’s passing game. But led by defensive lineman Jack Bailey and defensive back Connor Gron’s key interception, Kirtland outgained Fort Frye, 14-0, in the second half. Powers’ 50-yard run late in the fourth quarter sealed the win over the Hornets. Week 15, Kirtland 16, Marion
Local 7: In their most dominating performance of the season, the Hornets limited the defending state champion Flyers to 34 yards rushing to clinch their fourth state title in program history. Luke Gardner’s end-around near the end of the first half gave Kirtland a 13-7 lead. The only score of the second half was Mario Rodin’s 32-yard field goal, but the Kirtland defense took over from there. Three times Marion Local was turned away deep in Kirtland territory, the final time coming on Jack Bailey’s blocked field goal that allowed the Hornets to take one final possession and run out the clock. Jake Neibecker ran for 107 yards and a touchdown. Joey Torok ran for 94 yards, but exited the game in the second half with a concussion and did not return. He finished seven yards short of Kirtland’s all-time rushing total held by Craig Svendsen.