Newark Catholic rolls back to the Regional Finals with rout over Waterford

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LOGAN, Ohio (WOUB) — As the light snow swirled down on Chieftain Stadium, the anticipation blew with the winds as the Waterford Wildcats and the Newark Catholic Green Wave descended upon Logan for a Division VII, Region 27 regional semifinal.

The game had a slow start, with both teams making mistakes that aren’t characteristic of them. On the 3rd play of the game, Green Wave QB floated a pass over the head of receiver Grant Moore and into the waiting arms of Wildcats safety Lane Kline, setting up Waterford with prime field position. However, as was the story for most of the game, Newark Catholic’s defense was up for the task.

After advancing the Wildcat offense into the red zone, Jake Pantelidis would be held by the Green Wave. 3rd and 4th down pass attempts fell incomplete and Newark Catholic took over on downs.

And things would go from bad to worse in the Wildcats in the first quarter, as after forcing a 3 and out, Colton Jones muffed the ensuing punt to set up the Green Wave in opposing territory.

As the 1st came to a close, it was deadlocked at zero as a spirited start from Waterford paired with some uncharacteristic sloppiness from Newark Catholic set the stage for an intriguing clash. But the Green Wave were driving after the muff.

However, the positivity would come crashing down on the first play of the 2nd. Hutchinson would make up for the 1st quarter interception with a dime to Cooper Fink from 27 yards out, and Fink would make the catch over 2 Wildcat defenders to give the Green Wave a 7-0 lead.

Much of the rest of the quarter was underlined by offensive stagnation, with Pantelidis and the Waterford offense was caged up by Newark Catholic, as well as the Wildcat defense holding up against the Green Wave’s rushing attack led by star senior Mason Hackett, who was making his return after a 3 game absence due to a knee injury.

Newark Catholic would stamp their authority right at the end of the half. A classic 2-minute drill led by Hutchinson was capped off by the Green Wave QB, who took it in himself on a 5 yard run with just over 30 seconds left in the half to double the lead as the teams headed to the locker room.

In the second half, the Green Wave came out hot, as they looked to finished off the Wildcats. After forcing a 3 and out on Waterford’s opening possession of the second half, a vintage Newark Catholic drive was capped off by Hackett. His 5 yard score put the Green Wave up 3 scores and it felt like that was the final nail in the coffin for the Wildcats.

But as the 4th quarter came around, Waterford had one last push in them. A quality drive was finished off by a 1-yard plunge by Pantelidis to cut into the Green Wave lead, 21-7 with 11 minutes left.

As the Green Wave prepared for their ensuing drive, the offensive coordinator gathered the offense and yelled: “Go out there and win the f*****g game!”

And that they did. Hackett had a throwback run where he broke multiple tackles en route to a huge gain to put NY in the red zone, and Hutchinson would pick up his second rushing score of the game with a 1 yard sneak to finish off Waterford once and for all.

A Brendan Sheehan blocked punt and scoop and score TD by Anthony Robertson would ice it for the Green Wave, who move on to their second consecutive regional final after the 35-7 victory.

Newark Catholic head coach Ryan Aiello says that the team has a lot to clean up before the Region 27 final against River next Saturday.

“We had a lot of sloppy mistakes in the 1st half, that we need to be better with,” he said. “I’m happy with how our team showed up in the second half and played much better.”

And they’ll have to be better next week, where they’ll take on a 12-1 River team with a high-flying offense led by QB Kabel Isaly.

The Wildcats bounced back after a 1-3 start to win 9 in a row and finish an impressive 10-4, but they end up falling short of the regional final.