Margaretta fought ‘til the finish, but in the end Oak Harbor's size and physicality were too much as the Rockets defeated the Polar Bears, 35-14, on Friday night in Sandusky Bay Conference action at Rocket Stadium in Oak Harbor.
Oak Harbor established control from the beginning, scoring on the game's second play from scrimmage when running back Andrew Heberling scored from 71 yards out to make it 6-0 before Jourdan Maguire, who converted on all five of his PATs, kicked the extra point to give the Rockets a 7-0 advantage. On the touchdown, Heberling ran through a big hole on the right side before dashing to the right sideline and outrunning the Margaretta defenders for the score.
No more points were scored until late in the second period when the Rockets (5-5, 4-3 SBC) embarked on a 12-play, 85-yard drive that took 5:02 off the clock and resulted in a 19-yard touchdown run by quarterback Cole Weirich on second-and-18 to push the lead to 14-0.
The Polar Bears (3-7, 1-6 SBC) did respond, going 60 yards in 10 plays before scoring on a 13-yard pass from Dylan Bailey to Stephen Freeh on fourth-and-11 on the final play of the first half to cut the deficit to 14-7.
On its first drive of the second half, Oak Harbor drove 82 yards in 10 plays and scored on a 24-yard run by Heberling to make it 21-7 at the 6:29 mark of the third quarter before another Heberling touchdown, this time from 54 yards out, gave the Rockets a 28-7 advantage with 3:02 remaining.
Margaretta fought back, however, scoring on a 3-yard pass from Bailey to Caleb Stockmaster with 9:15 left in the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 14 points. After recovering an Oak Harbor fumble, the Polar Bears threatened, driving to the Rocket 33-yard-line before Jourdan Maguire intercepted Tyler Henderson at the 12.
After forcing a punt, Margaretta failed to convert on a fourth-and-1 from its 31 and Ben Genzman put the game away three plays later, running it in from 24 yards out with 1:10 remaining to account for the final scoring.
Heberling was magnificent, running 17 times for 258 yards and three scores and Genzman had 20 carries for 166 yards and a touchdown. Genzman finished the season first on the club in rushing yards (1011) and touchdowns (11). Weirich was second with 844 rushing yards and 10 TDs and Heberling finished with 825 rushing yards and 8 TDs.
It was the final game for 10 Oak Harbor seniors: Genzman, Cobi Brough, Cliff Biggert, Josh Sarahman, Aaron Hopkins, Dillon Glass, Alex Heintz, Matt Laughlin, Adam Swope and Travis Fisher.
"We have quality young men," Oak Harbor head coach Mike May said of his 10 seniors. "Their work ethic has been tremendous and they helped the program. We had our ups and downs, but (the seniors) led us through it. (And) we finished the year hard and played well."
For the game, the Rockets out gained the Polar Bears, 497-222, in total yardage and 484-27 on the ground.
"I thought the difference in the game was our offensive line winning the battle up front. We got Ben and Cobi going between the tackles and we got Andrew to the outside a few times."
Bailey had a nice game for the Polar Bears, finishing 20-of-40 for 195 yards and two touchdowns. Stockmaster had eight catches for 76 yards and a score and Freeh caught five passes for 62 yards and a touchdown.
Brough, who earned All-Ohio Honorable Mention honors last season and will likely be named to the SBC's first-team defense this year, spoke about what it was like to help turn around a program that had previously fallen on hard times.
"I think we were the first freshman class to have two-a-days," he said. "We definitely had a positive swing (for the program) and even though our record wasn't as good as we would've like, we got things moving n the right direction. I think (the team) is going to be good next year. They're going to have a lot of kids back and a lot of the younger guys got some experience.
"It was definitely worth (putting in the hard work). I don't regret working as hard as I did (these last four years). It was worth it and I got to do this with a lot of my friends."
At halftime, a number of Oak Harbor residents were honored by the school, among them Ben and Sue Mincheff, who have been active in the Rocket Athletic Boosters for the last 35 years. In fact, Ben was president of the group from 1979-1983. Dick Meyer, who has been affiliated with the athletic program since 1960, was recognized as well. So, too, was Perkins assistant coach Gary Quisno, a former Rocket coach from 1979-2007 who was inducted into the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame over the summer.