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Kenston High School wins first state championship in football

Michelle McQuade | December 20, 2018

Most of the spotlight was on the Kettering Alter team a week before they faced Kenston in the Division III state championship. There weren’t many people who thought Kenston had a chance – the team was even mistakenly referred to as “Kingston,” among other botched names.

The final score at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium on November 30 however, silenced all naysayers and made it very clear what the Kenston Bombers should now be called: state champions.

Photo courtesy of

Responding to early adversity

The bombers gave up a touchdown early in the game, which they responded to by scoring six unanswered touchdowns of their own. This put Kettering Alter in a deep 42-6 hole in front of a massive crowd of nearly 7,000 spectators, majority of which lived in the same school district.

The victory gave Kenston their very first championship in football, an achievement they narrowly missed out on after a pair of runner-up finishes in 1986 and 1995.

The final minutes en route to the state championship

While the remaining seconds dwindled away, Bombers head coach Jeff Grubich walked down the visiting sidelines, hugging and sharing the joy of the team’s supporters, some of which were former players from the teams of 1986 and 1995.

The decibel level in the stadium skyrocketed as Grubich was soaked from the ceremonial water bucket. “I thought I was quicker than that,” said Grubich. “I’m getting old. I gotta work on that.”

Defense wins championships

Kenston went on a tear on both sides of the ball after the early touchdown from Alter, dominating the game in every facet.

Junior quarterback Jon Tomcufcik threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns, while junior running back Jack Porter ran for 116 yards and three scores. The Kenston defense held the fort throughout the game, shutting out any efforts from Alter.

Kenston effectively stifled Alter’s wishbone offense to only 122 yards on 25 carries. Opposing quarterback Connor Bazelak threw for 162 yards, but was intercepted by Iklodi, Mintz, and Stanley. “We knew if we forced them to pass, we’d be in good shape,” said senior linebacker Matt Iklodi.

A dominating performance for the state championship

At the game’s conclusion, Kenston players ran to the student section to celebrate the victory with their classmates as the rest of the crowd gave the team a roaring ovation.

“That’s what high school football is all about,” Grubich said.

After one of the most dominating performances in the school’s history, Kenston can enjoy a well-deserved victory that capped off a successful season. Definitely a dream come true for the entire team, the school, and their countless supporters.

“Everything. Literally everything,” said when asked by News Herald on what the championship meant for the team. “We’ve been dreaming of this since we were in second and third grade, and saying we were going to do this. We believed it, we worked for it, and this is what happened.”

You can find more info on Kenston local schools here.

41 North Main St. Chagrin Falls, OH 44022