Minster Roars Into State Championship Game

Staff Writer

The Minster Wildcats relished the challenge of facing the top-ranked team in the state last Friday night.

“When we put the St. Paul tape on, the kids perked up,” Minster head football coach Geron Stokes said. “Our kids had a different mentality in preparation, in every rep in practice. We had guys screaming at each other to do things the right way. It was intense.”

It carried over into an overwhelming performance at Spartan Stadium in Lima.

After handing Norwalk St. Paul its first defeat of the season — a 40-7 romp that used a running clock in the fourth quarter, no less — Minster is headed back to the state championship game for the second straight season and for the third time in four years.

“This is a great opportunity,” Minster quarterback Jared Huelsman said after the win. “You’re always shooting for this.”

The Wildcats will look for the program’s third-ever state title against Cuyahoga Heights on Friday morning at 10 a.m. at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton in the shadow of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Both teams return to the state championship game following losses last season. Cuyahoga Heights made its first-ever appearance in the state championship game last year, where it fell to Marion Local 21-17 in the Division VII title game.  Minster lost to Warren John F. Kennedy 24-6 last year at the Horseshoe, but Stokes said his team doesn’t use the past as a motivator too much.

“Our whole mission is to maximize our guys,” Stokes said. “We don’t chase state titles. We see how much better we can get throughout the year. This is a whole different group. Our group has learned from that but this is a different group.”

Minster again overcame four straight mid-season losses in the tough MAC schedule to reach the playoffs and then move on to state. Stokes said the tough times have shaped and molded his teams. “Every year we’ve had success we’ve hit rock bottom,” Stokes said. “I think we have to go through that. It’s our process to get stripped down and from that point we are incredibly humble.”