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Shrugging it off: South Range QB Skripac showcased his best in leading Raiders to state title

Staff photo / Brian Yauger South Range quarterback Billy Skripac reacts after scoring a rushing touchdown during last weekend’s Division V state championship game against Ironton.

As the lights shined brighter and brighter on South Range quarterback Billy Skripac throughout the playoffs, the senior continued to shrug off the pressure.

After one of the best performances of his career, Skripac is now a state champion.

In the title-winning performance, he threw for 331 yards and three touchdowns on 13 completions in the victory over Ironton and ran for 57 yards and another three scores on the ground.

Going into the game, Skripac didn’t expect a six-score performance, but knew if the Raiders were going to lift the big trophy at the end, he was going to need to step up and take over.

The numbers speak for themselves. “Big Game Billy” delivered when he needed to.

“Coming into the game, I knew that as a quarterback of an explosive offense I needed to make plays against a really good team like Ironton,” Skripac said following the game. “It was just a matter of executing when I needed to and I guess I did it.”

Skripac did this all postseason long. In the six-game run to the title, he went 61-for-93 and threw for 1,290 yards and 16 touchdowns with no interceptions.

While the stakes kept getting higher, Skripac’s demeanor never changed. He, like the rest of the Raiders roster, stayed calm. In fact, Skripac seemed more and more calm each week. He credits that to his teammates.

“I think as the stakes get higher, I focus on being more calm,” Skripac said. “Coming into the game, I wasn’t freaking out. I knew that when you have as good a football team as we have, that we can beat anyone on any given day. I’d say that the most important thing as a high school athlete is to calm your nerves, settle into the game and just be yourself.”

While a 16-0 record wouldn’t lead you to believe there was adversity during the season, there certainly was. Ask anyone on the South Range roster what the turning point of the year was, and odds are they’ll tell you it was the team’s 23-13 victory over Struthers.

Skripac would agree. But that kick in the teeth against the Wildcats early on in the year served as the wake up call they needed. From that point on, Skripac was near-perfect, not throwing a single interception after the narrow victory.

“Looking at our schedule, that was definitely a turning point in the season, especially for me personally,” Skripac said. “I had three picks in the 2021 season and I had three against Struthers alone. It was definitely a wake up call for me, it was a wake up call for our line and it was pretty effective. I mean we came in here and won a state championship. It was really important to get that game out of the way.”

That success doesn’t come without help, and Skripac will be the first to admit that. His completion percentage has hovered around 70 his entire time with the Raiders and his eye-popping numbers, he attributes to his offensive line and deep stable of weapons.

“As a starting quarterback for the past two years, I think I’ve completed about 70 percent of my passes for about 15 yards per pass,” Skripac said. “To be as good of a team as we are, I think it’s really easy to do that as a quarterback when your line is as good as it is and your wide receivers and tight ends are as good as they are.”

The honors kept coming for Skripac as he was named First-Team All-Ohio in Division V on Tuesday.

Now that the football season is over, Skripac is turning his sights toward the diamond. The senior is a pitcher and outfielder for the Raiders. After high school, Skripac is considering football and baseball in his future, but he hasn’t made a decision just yet.

With his high school career on the gridiron over, Skripac’s legacy for the South Range program speaks for itself.

In addition to all his individual accolades, Skripac led the Raiders to their first-ever football state title and the third-ever 16-0 perfect season in OHSAA history.

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