Oak Harbor steals the show in All-Press selections

J. Patrick Eaken

When four of 10 football teams finish the regular season undefeated, being chosen first team among that group can almost be compared to being chosen all-state.
Of those 10 teams, there were 22 All-Ohioans, including 19 in Division V — six from Oak Harbor, five from Eastwood, five from Northwood, two from Lake and one from Genoa. There were three All-Ohioans in D-VI from Gibsonburg.
Sometimes, it is the teams that get the farthest that get the honors in voting, and for Oak Harbor, rightfully so. The Rockets finished a 13-1 campaign, winning their second straight Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division championship and a regional title that got them into a state semifinal matchup with eventual state champion Kirtland.
Oak Harbor takes three of the four major Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press nods in voting by the 10 area coaches and 10 media members. The Rockets also accumulate seven first team selections on offense and six more on defense.
Oak Harbor senior quarterback Jac Alexander is Offensive Player of the Year and senior linebacker Clay Schulte is Defensive POY. Both were first team All-Ohioans.
Alexander completed 94 of 154 passes for 1,743 yards and 24 touchdowns with just two interceptions — both of them in the state semifinal. He virtually owns the school record book in passing, having completed 258 of 425 passes for 3,903 yards, 50 TDs and 16 interceptions for his career.
Schulte this year ran the ball 177 times for 1,429 yards and 20 TDs, averaging eight yards per carry. For his career, he has carried the ball 480 times for 3,186 yards and 37 TDs, averaging 6.6 per carry. On defense, he was all over the field with an area-leading 183 tackles, including 91 solo, 15 tackles for loss, seven sacks, 19 quarterback presses, two forced fumbles, one recovered fumble, three interceptions and two defensive TDs.
        “Clay Schulte and Jac Alexander are two of the best leaders, two of the best football players that I’ve ever coached,” Oak Harbor coach Mike May said. “That whole class is a tight knit group and they’ve been playing football together for many years. You can tell that during the course of the season. I’m just very proud of them and very thankful for everything they’ve done for our program.
        “Our team has a lot to be proud of — proud of the work and especially proud of the type of people they are off the field. They won a lot of games, but they did it the right way.”
        Schulte and Alexander, along with the rest of the senior class, have been playing football together since they were young.
        “They mean everything. We’ve been through everything together,” Schulte said. “Our first two years we were 5-5 and then we made a goal to get the program back to where it needs to be and try to get a state championship and make a playoff run, and we’ve accomplished that. I’m super proud of everyone on my team, all my classmates and it’s just awesome.”
If you were second team or third team All-Ohio, you might have even had a difficult time getting first team All-Press.
Take All-Press Lineman of the Year honors — two first team all-staters were tops in the running — 6-foot-2, 265 Oak Harbor senior Gabe Dowling and 6-2, 201 junior Blake Landis. Landis got the nod by two votes.
Dig even deeper and you wonder if Oak Harbor might have won that 28-14 state semifinal loss to Kirtland. The Rockets had three turnovers that led to short fields, and you take that away and Oak Harbor plays a cleaner game, maybe they advancing to the state final. But, Schulte admitted, Kirtland was just too physical. The Hornets (15-0) went on to defeat Ironton (13-2), 17-7 in the championship.
        “They are a little like us. They just come at you all four quarters and they don’t stop, and they are physical. We had just too many mistakes that hurt us, and held us back,” Schulte said. “It happens, but it’s been one heck of a ride and I couldn’t be more proud of my teammates. It’s been fun.”
        Oak Harbor coach Mike May, the All-Press Coach of the Year, told his players after the game that the seniors were “great role models” and the underclassmen have to learn from “what these guys have done” and continue the tradition.
        “It was huge for us. This senior class and last year’s senior class are really great leaders,” May said. “They’ve done things the right way and winning the SBC championship back-to-back, getting into the playoffs two years in a row — that’s huge. Our young kids have seen great examples of how things are done, so hopefully we can continue this momentum in our program.”

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