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Jefferson head football coach Brandon Hanna coaches his team during a Division IV state semifinal game against Glenville last Saturday at Perry High School. On Tuesday, Hanna was selected Division IV state co-coach of the year.

Staff Report

Jefferson’s historic run to the Division IV state football semifinals was rewarded on Tuesday.

Brandon Hanna was selected state co-coach of the year with Mike Bell of Columbus East.

Hanna guided Jefferson to a 7-3 regular-season mark and sixth seed in Division IV, Region 13.

But the Falcons rattled off four straight playoff wins to reach the state semi-finals. Jefferson, which closed the season 11-4, fell to eventual state champion Cleveland Glenville to end the campaign.

“Honored and blessed,” Hanna said. “The COY award is a staff award for us. To take a roster of 26 kids through an entire region and end up in the state final four is incredible.

“It says a lot about the kids and the staff. My staff has spent several hours game planning and developing relationships with these young men.”

Hanna’s players, along with Edgewood in DIV, and Conneaut in DV, were honored by the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association.

For Jefferson, senior Grant Hitchcock at quarterback was selected to the second team, while seniors Mason Pawlowski on the offensive line and Wade Woodworth at linebacker and junior Jensen Yarosh at kicker were third-team choices.

Hitchcock, a two-time county player of the year selection, finished the 2022 season with 1,188 yards passing and 15 touchdowns and 1,855 rushing yards and 24 scores.

He also caught 11 passes for 219 yards and two TDs, returned two punts for scores and recorded three interceptions.

Pawlowski was a main cog on the line that helped spring Hitchcock, senior running back-wide receiver Trent Hodge and junior running back Luke Funtash, among others, offensively this season.

Woodworth was a leader on defense. He attained 166 tackles, including 28 for loss, with one interception.

And Yarosh converted 46 of 52 extra points and 4 of 6 field goals with a long of 38 yards during the season.

“Grant, Wade, Mason and Jensen are well deserving of this honor,” Hanna said. “To know that I got to serve four of the top kids in the great state of Ohio High School football is such a blessing.

“These guys’ work ethic was second to none. All four are at the top of their class academically as well. These guys really set the bar high.”

Edgewood’s Christian Cunningham and Seth Enos were third-team selections.

A senior receiver, Cunningham caught 43 passes for 741 yards and 10 TDs.

“Christian got off to a slow start, but once he found his stride, he was a stalwart for us all season,” Warriors coach Olajuwon Cooper said. “He loves the game. Can’t wait to see him play on Saturdays next fall.”

Enos, a junior, collected 120 total tackles, including 14 for loss, with one interception.

“Seth is very deserving of this recognition,” Cooper said. “He put together a great junior season statistically and as a leader. Very excited for this senior year next season.”

The Warriors finished 6-5 on the season, including a Region 13 first-round playoff loss to Struthers.

In Division V, junior Ty Covill at linebacker was a first-team all-state choice; senior Zack Rice at running back second team; junior Wyatt Payne at defensive back third team; senior Daren Christine on the offensive line honorable mention and sophomore Jaydon Anderson at defensive line honorable mention posted All-Ohio honors for Conneaut.

Covill notched 149 total tackles, including nine for loss, with five sacks, five forced fumbles, one pass break-up and eight pressures. He was earlier selected the DV Northeast Lakes District Defensive Player of the Year.

“When Ty steps on the field, you see the energy and enthusiasm, which is contagious for the whole team,” Spartans coach Rocco Dobran said. “Around Week 4, Ty realized he was on pace for a hundred total tackles.

“Right then, he put it in his head he wanted to break our school record of 121 tackles. The next week against a very good Rootstown team, Ty had 17 tackles and two caused fumbles. There was no stopping him after that.”

Rice gained 1,305 yards rushing with 17 TDs. Rice added 17 receptions for 340 yards and four scores.

He finished as the Spartans’ all-time leader with 4,629 all-purpose yards and career leader in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.

“Zack is one of the most talented student-athletes we’ve ever had at Conneaut,” Dobran said. “He talent, combined with his toughness, lead to one of the most successful careers in Conneaut history.”

Payne registered 70 tackles with five interceptions and six pass break-ups. Four of the five picks were key points in those games. He recorded a 90-yard interception return for a TD against Columbiana.

Payne also ran 94 yards for a TD against Brooklyn on offense.

“Payne was by far the hardest worker on the team,” Dobran said. “When a big play was needed, Wyatt always came through.”

Christine helped pave the way for Conneaut to rush for 2,800 yards and pass for 925.

“Daren is a very humble player who just dominated on both sides of the ball,” Dobran said. “Even though a four-year letterman, his passion for the game really came out this year.”

Anderson garnered 46 total tackles, including 16 for loss, with four sacks, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, one pass break-up and seven pressures.

“Jaydon is the strongest player on the team,” Dobran said. “He is extremely athletic when it comes to being a lineman.

“On defense, he was flat-out unstoppable. He has a motor like no other and refuses to be blocked.”

The Division II and III teams will be announced today, followed by the Division I All-Ohio team on Thursday.

The Division VI and VII All-Ohio teams were announced on Monday.

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