CANTON — He’s listed as a receiver on the roster, but Tanner Schroeder is McComb’s Swiss Army knife.
The 5-foot-11 senior does it all and, in Saturday’s Division VII state championship game, he did it all very, very well.
Schroeder ran for 107 yards and two touchdowns, competed 2 of 4 passes for 10 yards and caught a 12-yard pass as the Panthers won their first state title since 1983 with a 28-3 victory over Glouster Trimble at soggy Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
When he wasn’t tormenting Trimble on offense, Schroeder was stymieing the Tomcats from his safety spot on defense. He made three tackles and broke up a pair of passes. He also was a perfect 4-for-4 on extra points, averaged 40.4 yards on his five kickoffs and punted four times for a 41.3 yard average.
“We’re just extremely fortunate to have Tanner,” veteran McComb coach Kris Alge said. “The thing with him is he’s a team player. He would play tackle if we asked him to.”
As good as he was, Schroeder had plenty of help Saturday. Running back Kheaghan Loe rushed for 86 yards and a touchdown. Senior linebacker Tristan Sherick had 11 tackles and an interception, while linebacker Brice Markel had three tackles for loss ands a sack and defensive back Tyler Durfey picked off a pair of passes.
“We knew coming in that this was our last game no matter what,” Schroeder said. “We really just wanted to get one for the whole community.”
Schroeder got McComb (13-1) on the board early when he raced 40 yards for a touchdown on a fourth-and-one play midway through the opening quarter. Trimble (13-2) answered with a 25 yard Max Hooper field goal with 1:16 remaining in the first before Schroeder scored his second TD of the half on an 8 yard run with 9:47 remaining in the second quarter.
The Panthers put it out of reach with a pair of third-quarter touchdowns. Jacob Dillon scored on a 1 yard run midway through the period before Lee iced it was a 4 yard run with 2:31 remaining.
Meanwhile, McComb’s rugged defense limited Trimble to just 151 yards of total offense. The Tomcats averaged more than 38 points a game.
“These guys bring it every Friday or Saturday night,” Alge said. “They like to hit. They get mad because I don’t let them hit in practice because we don’t have a lot of kids. We tell them to save it for the game.”
Trimble’s wishbone attack never got untracked. The Tomcats managed just 82 yards on 39 rushing attempts.
“We could tell coming in that they were a very good defensive team,” longtime Trimble coach Phil Faires said. “They were geared to stop Max (Hooper) and we just couldn’t get anything going.”
The Southeast District Offensive Player of the Year in Division VII, Hooper was limited to 21 yards on 14 carries after torching Cuyahoga Heights for 280 yards and three touchdowns on just 16 carries in last week’s 47-21 win.
“We went to a five-man line and brought some beef in,” Alge said. “We wanted to try to make them bounce and go sideways.”
The Tomcats finished as state runner-up for the second time. Trimble fell to Marion Local in the Division VII title game in 2013 and was a state semifinalist in 2014.
“It’s just an honor to be here,” Faires said. “I witness how hard these guys work and they are real deserving of being in this position.
“What they did for our community … we’re not the richest community and just to see, wherever you went for the last week or two, everyone was in a good mood and everyone was happy. That’s a credit to these guys.”