By Cary Shuman
The Lynn Tech football team was looking for one final opportunity to try for the winning touchdown and conversion point, but Cathedral running Khalil Blair ended the Tiger’s hopes with a 91-yard touchdown run.
Blair raced around right end on a third-down-and-eight play with under a minute left to help Cathedral secure a 20-6 victory Tech in the Division 8 North final Saturday night at Manning Field.
Cathedral coach Paul Sobolweski said he was just hoping for a first down on the play. Cathedral had been penalized five yards in an intentional effort to try to draw Tech offside on the previous play.
Sobolewski placed three wide receivers close to the right side of the offensive line on the play.
“We just thought at that point in the game it was a great spot to try that and get away from [Steffan] Gravely – because he’s such an impact player, and we wanted to run opposite him and just try to get the eight yards we needed,” said Sobolewski. “We never expected to break it the way Khalil did. Everybody blocked well on the play. It was collaborative effort.”
Interestingly had Cathedral not picked up the first down, Sobolewski said he was going to go against the conventional strategy and punt and instead give Tech an intentional safety that would have sliced Cathedral’s lead to 12-8.
“We didn’t want to punt,” said Sobolewski. “To be honest, we were going to take a safety because we knew they would have no timeouts with about 35 seconds left,” said Sobolewski. “We haven’t punted that much all year, and our previous two punts in the game were a debacle. We were not going to risk a bad snap, so we would rather take a free kick from the 20-yard line and at least get Tech out to midfield, go to our nickel defense and hopefully keep Tech out of the end zone.”
Sobolewski credited Tech for an outstanding season.
“I really tip my cap to coach [James] Runner and his entire staff,” said Sobolewski. “They had a great season, and I know they’re going to win the State Vocational Bowl, and we’ll be pulling for them.”
James Runner demonstrated sportsmanship and class following a tough loss for his undefeated Commonwealth Conference Small championship team.
“Let me be a class act and say, congratulations to coach Sobolewski and Cathedral,” said Runner. “Overall they’re a very good football team and I take my hat off to them. I’m sure they’ll represent the North well in the state semifinals.”
Runner felt his team didn’t finish off its scoring drives well. “We had three or four drives that we should have succeeded in getting the ball to end zone and we had one missed block that was hurting us,” he said. “The onside kick at the beginning of the third quarter was a momentum changer. I give a lot of credit to their coaching staff.”
Gravely had another All-Scholastic caliber performance, rushing for 115 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries.
“Steffan will go down as Tech’s No. 1 all-purpose yards guy,” said Runner. “And also the career touchdown leader. He played well tonight. At the end of the day, Steffan has been a great entity for the football program. He has two games left, so we’re going to try to finish it off with a state vocational championship.”
Tech will play Franklin County Tech in the State Vocational playoffs.