Adam Hess and Sam Kukura remember what it was like when Kirtland’s football team lost in the state final last season.
On Friday, the Hornets duo made sure it didn’t happen again.
Hess rushed for 177 yards, scored two touchdowns and added a pair of two-point conversions to lead Kirtland to a 44-16 victory over Wayne Trace in Ohio’s Division VI state finals at Fawcett Stadium.
Kukura added 196 yards and a score for the Hornets (15-0) as Kirtland, which has won 44 of its last 45 games, won its second title in three years.
The squad logged the fourth-most total yards of offense in a state championship, finishing with 588 yards in a game played amid light snow flurries.
Wayne Trace (13-2) tied things up in the second quarter on a 41-yard touchdown pass from Colby Speice to Jake Arend.
That woke up Kirtland, the top-ranked team in the Associated Press poll, and the Hornets rolled off 36 straight points on the strength of Hess and Kukura.
By halftime, the duo had 276 yards rushing and three touchdowns. It led to a 381-138 edge on offense at the break.
“That’s what we like to do,” Kirtland coach Tiger Laverde said. “There’s no bones about it, we run the ball.
“These two do a great job, but it’s all 11. It’s the up back, it’s the five guys up front and it’s our two tight ends.
“They’re unbelievable blockers and our quarterback does a great job running the ball himself.”