Pictured above: Ryan Payne (#12, Agriculture & Heavy Machinery); Nick Dildine (#26, Automotive); Luke Roberts (#44, Construction); Will Green (back, Welding); Collin Willet (#22, Construction); Grant Dolan (#75, Pre-Dental); Wyatt Huston (#77, Construction).
November 30, 2022 | EFCTS
This Friday will be special for Bloom-Carroll High School students and the Carroll community. The Bloom-Carroll football team is heading to the birthplace of professional football to play in the school’s first high school state championship game. Adding to the excitement is the fact that multiple Eastland-Fairfield students will be lining up for the Bulldogs in that title tilt.
Wyatt Huston, a senior in the Construction program at Fairfield Career Center, is the Bulldogs’ starting center on the offensive line. He is basking in the joy following last week’s 20-7 win over Tippecanoe High School in the state semifinals while also mentally preparing for what will be the biggest game of his career and in school history.
“I’m actually really excited,” said Huston. “It really hasn’t set in yet for me that we’ve made it this far. So right now, it feels like just another game for me.”
Come gameday, it will not be just another game. Bloom-Carroll has announced that the district will be canceling school in order to rally support for the team as it heads to Canton, Ohio. Huston mentioned that after the team has its gameday meal, the entire Carroll community will gather to send off the team and wish it well. Bloom-Carroll High School will also be sending at least one bus full of students to attend the game and support the team from the stands.
Huston expressed that the team didn’t dream of being in the state title game when the season began, especially after losing in week one to Harvest Prep Academy. But then the Bulldogs rattled off nine straight regular-season wins, including a lopsided victory over then-12th-ranked Circleville High School. The idea of contending for the state championship became more real with each passing week, especially after they captured a conference title, earned the number five seed in the region, and took care of business handily against Beechcroft High School, 48-0, in the opening round of the playoffs.
“Our seeding in the playoffs never really showed off what we can do or who we are,” said Huston. “We just kept playing and rushing the ball, which is kind of the strength of the team.”
A smashmouth run game and physical defense helped pave the road to wins over Tri-Valley (20-7) and Sheridan (17-7) high schools in games Huston admitted the Bulldogs always felt in control of and never feared losing. Bishop Watterson provided a different challenge, but worry never set in. Ultimately, Bloom-Carroll used its strong running game to come back with a score in the final minutes and claim a 33-28 victory to punch its ticket to the championship game.
“We just stayed calm,” said Nick Dildine, a senior in the Automotive program at Eastland Career Center. “We knew what we needed to do. We just kept moving the ball downfield, scored, and then the defense got a big stop. But nobody ever panicked or anything.”
Dildine, a linebacker on the team, has a different perspective than many. His season ended after the team’s third game due to a knee injury. However, the strong bonds among friends and teammates have kept him involved with the Bulldogs as he recovers.
“I definitely think that the excitement is way up there because it's the state championship, but we’re ready to play and we should do pretty good,” said Dildine. “I’m mostly just happy for my team to be there because this has been the goal the last couple of years, to make the state championship. We kept coming up just short, but this year we made it.”
The Bulldogs have had strong teams since 2016 but have seen a meteoric rise in their play over the last five years. Bloom-Carroll has qualified for the state playoffs each year since 2018 and advanced to the semifinals each of the last three years, including the current campaign. Now, after having made the jump up to Division III from Division IV, they have continued that pattern of success and are playing in the school’s first state championship game.
“We have a game plan and we just stick to the game plan,” said Dildine. “We know if we stick to it and play the way that we know how to play Bulldog football, we can win.” He continued, “We prepare the same every week and play the same every week.”
The Bulldogs’ (14-1) opponent for the OHSAA Division III State Championship will be the Canfield Cardinals (13-1), located in northeast Ohio near Youngstown. Gametime at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton is set for 3 p.m. this Friday.
Good luck to the Bloom-Carroll Bulldogs and especially all Eastland-Fairfield students representing both schools in this title game!
Note: Some Bloom-Carroll / Eastland-Fairfield students from the BCHS football team are not pictured.
Eastland-Fairfield students playing for Bloom-Carroll Football
AJ Moore, Jr., WR/DB (HVAC)
Ryan Payne, Sr., WR/DB (Agriculture & Heavy Equipment)
Tyler Rapp, Sr., K (Construction)
Collin Willet, Sr., RB/LB (Construction)
Nick Dildine, Sr., RB/LB (Automotive, ECC)
Jayde Stevenson, Jr., TE/DL (Welding)
Luke Roberts, Sr., RB/LB (Construction)
Alex Sherrod, Jr., OL/LB (Auto Body & Paint)
Jackson Frazee, Jr., OL/DL (HVAC)
Andrew Lister, Jr., OL/DL (Agriculture & Heavy Equipment)
AJ Spradlin, Sr., OL/DL (Criminal Justice, ECC)
Grant Dolan, Sr., OL/DL (Pre-Dental)
Wyatt Huston, Sr., OL (Construction)
Will Green, Sr., OL/DL (Welding)
Eastland-Fairfield Career & Technical Schools is the seventh-largest career and technical education district, geographically, in the State of Ohio. We serve more than 5,000 students in 16 school districts throughout Franklin, Fairfield and Pickaway counties. Eastland-Fairfield provides more than 40 programs to over 1,600 high school and adult students. The district has two main campuses — Eastland Career Center in Groveport and Fairfield Career Center in Carroll, with satellite locations at four of our associate high schools: Gahanna Lincoln, Groveport Madison, New Albany, and Pickerington North.
Founded in 1969. Eastland-Fairfield Career & Technical Schools’ mission is to engage, enrich, and equip students every day in every experience. We prepare students to pursue their life’s next E: Employment, Enlistment, Entrepreneurship, and/or additional Education. Visit us online at www.eastlandfairfield.com and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn for regular updates, fun content and information.