Tim Eaken was a 6-foot-4, 250 pound lineman who played football for southern Paulding County school Wayne Trace, a member of the Green Meadows Conference.
Tim, my first cousin, would have graduated from WT the same year I graduated from Eastwood (1977), but that never happened. Tim was on his way to a potential college football career when he was killed in an industrial accident the summer before his senior year began.
Then-WT athletic director and football coach Leman Saylor says he remembers Tim wearing his farm overalls to school. However, a family friend at neighboring Convoy Crestview once told me, “Tim was the meanest football player I ever saw,” which I took as a compliment.
Wayne Trace is not one of the schools we cover at The Press, but I promised another cousin, Ottawa Hills Superintendent Dr. Kevin Miller, that I was going to write about Tim this week.
Why should I? Because Friday, for the first time in WT school history, the Raiders were going up against 14-0 Kirtland for a Division VI state football championship.
One of this year’s Raiders is Tim “T.J.” Blackmore, who is the grandson of Tim Eaken’s sister, Marcella (Eaken) Blackmore, also a first cousin of Dr. Miller and myself. T.J. is a 6-foot-5, 215 pound offensive lineman and defensive end for the Raiders, which were 13-1 heading into Friday’s contest at Canton’s Fawcett Stadium.
Tim and Marcella's father, Erwin, is the brother of my late father, John Eaken, a Van Wert County native who became guidance counselor at Eastwood from 1964-84. Dr. Miller’s late mother, Carlotta, is Erwin and John’s sister, but they are just three of 11 siblings in their immediate family.
When Tim was killed, Erwin and wife Harriet did their part in helping move the football field from its original home at Payne Elementary to the high school on U.S. 127. WT had just consolidated from three smaller districts a few years earlier and football was new to the community. The district put Tim’s name on a sign at the field, which I visited when Wayne Trace hosted its first playoff game.
“As far as Tim is concerned, I want to verify that officially it was titled ‘Raider Field in Memory of Tim Eaken,’” Dr. Miller emailed. “When Tim died, Harriet and Erwin gave money to complete the construction of the football field.”
Dr. Miller also is a Wayne Trace graduate and made the trip with his family to Canton to see the game Friday.
This is Wayne Trace’s second year in the playoffs, but the school now has a 5-1 playoff record. The Raiders have scored 217 points in the playoffs, most among any school in the state championship games, and out-scored its opponents 217-59.
For the Raiders to reach the state final, they defeated Colonel Crawford, 52-28, Tinora, 40-7, Ada, 68-14, and Mechanicsburg, 57-10 in the state semifinal.
Regular season wins were over Paulding, 61-20, Otsego, 65-0, Crestview, 54-41, Ayersville, 40-6, Holgate, 80-0, Edgerton, 45-0, Hicksville, 43-7, Antwerp, 46-17, and Fairview, 26-6. Ironically, the only loss was to Tinora, 27-16, which the Raiders avenged in the playoffs.
“I’m pretty excited about WT in the state finals this week and I’m taking the (four sons) boys and (wife) Carla to the game,” Dr. Miller emailed. “I’ve been listening to their playoff games on the Internet (WKSD out of Van Wert).
“For years, we were a basketball school — never imagined in my wildest dreams that something like this would happen in football. They’ve been absolutely dominant in their playoff games, but Kirtland has state experience — maybe that means the Raiders will be hungrier for a title.”
Kirtland won a state championship in 2011, and has been in the playoffs nine times with a 17-7 record. They advanced to the state championship game each of the last three years (lost last year’s D-V final to Coldwater), and they have won 43 of their last 44 game. They won their state semifinal game on a field goal as time expired, and have outscored opponents 161-35 in the playoffs.
T.J. is not the only cousin on Wayne Trace’s team — I have four others on my mother’s side — 6-4, 180 pound senior wide receiver/defensive back David Sinn, 5-9, 150 freshman WR/DB Jon Sinn, 6-4, 215 junior OL/DE Hank Sinn, and 5-10, 165 sophomore OL/DE Clint Sinn. As you can guess, my mother Karen’s maiden name was Sinn, which she admits resulted in a lot of bad humor while growing up.
So, there are five cousins on the team, and there could be more, so you can count on me having watched the game live on SportsTime Ohio.
Dr. Miller says there is even more irony surrounding this team, which is coached by Bill Speller, reaching the state final.
“Certainly, this team heading to state is carrying the banner of many, many football players who came before them…what a great honor,” Dr. Miller wrote. “Actually, two of the assistant coaches, Mike Speice (senior quarterback Colby Speice’s father) and Kenny Speice played football at WT when they went to school there. Now, they both have boys playing on this team.
“Brian Gerber, superintendent at the Western Buckeye ESC, has a son, (Jake, a senior wide receiver) playing on the team. Brian was integral in getting a football program started for the elementary grades — now it’s paying off. Tom McCord, assistant coach, was our head coach for many years — won WT’s first GMC title. Now he’s in a support role, but what a great experience for him. Anyway, lots of interesting stories surrounding this team’s trip to the state tourney.”
Kirtland Wins Second State Title
Hornets defeat Wayne Trace 44-16 in Division VI Championship
CANTON – Top-ranked Kirtland (15-0) dominated on the ground and also used a strong passing attack to defeat No. 10 Haviland Wayne Trace (13-2) 44-16 on Friday morning in the 2013 OHSAA State Football Division VI championship game at Canton Fawcett Stadium.
Kirtland ran for 410 yards total in addition to its 178 yards and two touchdowns through the air. That rushing total is the seventh-most rushing yards in an OHSAA state championship game.
Kirtland entered the championship game winning 43 of its last 44 games and outscoring opponents 165-28 in the playoffs this season. Senior Sam Kukura led all rushers with 196 yards on 19 attempts and one touchdown. Junior Adam Hess added 177 yards on 22 attempts and two touchdowns. in addition to its 178 yards and two touchdowns through the air.
Kirtland got on the scoreboard first with a 1-yd touchdown run by junior Sam Skiljan in the first quarter. Wayne Trace would answer in the second quarter with a 41-yd touchdown reception by junior Jake Arend to tie the game. But Kirtland scored the next five touchdowns of the game. Kirtland junior Adam Hess scored twice in the second quarter, a 5-yd run and a 9-yd run, to extend the lead. Senior Sam Kukura scored on a 68-yd run to give the Hornets a 30-8 lead at halftime. The Hornets would score two more times in the second half, a 24-yd touchdown reception by senior Ryan Loncar and 51-yd touchdown reception by junior Matthew Finkler. Wayne Trace's only other score came in the fourth quarter, a 30-yd touchdown reception by junior Tyler Showalter.
Wayne Trace senior quarterback Colby Speice threw for 262 yards and two touchdowns, completing 18 of 44 attempts. Kirtland junior Sam Skiljan threw for 133 yards and two touchdowns, completing six of 10 attempts.
Wayne Trace's junior Jake Arena led all receivers with 101 receiving yards on five receptions and one touchdown. This was Wayne Trace's first state final appearance. Only their second year in the playoffs, the Raiders only had one playoff win in school history before this year. They scored 217 points in the playoffs this year, the most among the 14 schools in the state finals.
Kirtland was making its third appearance in the state final and its third in a row. The Hornets won the championship in 2011 and lost to Coldwater in the Division V championship in 2012. In its ninth year in the playoffs, Kirtland now has a 18-7 playoff record.