COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Unbeaten Bloom-Carroll will aim to make even more school history in the Division 4 state semifinals when it takes on Lake Catholic. The Bulldogs are playing in their first-ever state semifinals, but it’s not just that Bloom-Carroll is winning — it’s how they’re winning.
“Honestly, I believe shock is a little bit of it,” head coach Wade Bartholomew said. “You know, just the fact that we’re here.”
The Bulldogs beat St. Clairsville 40-0 in the region championship, their second shutout in three playoff games.
“I mean it’s amazing. We’ve never been this far,” senior Evan Willet said. “St. Clairsville, our sophomore year, we lost to them 44-14, so there’s a lot of people doubting us. But with us winning against them, everybody’s just shocked right now.”
Bartholomew is in his seventh year as head coach and says the biggest thing that’s changed is expectations have gotten bigger every year.
“Our kids now have a mentality that they’re no longer the soft, you know kind of country kids,” he said. “They can be a physical presence and go anywhere, any place, any time and try to win a game.”
Bloom-Carroll’s win over St. Clairsville was their fifth shutout in eight games as the Bulldogs’ defense only allows three points a game while giving up a whopping six points in three playoff games.
“When we came out defensively and we saw how really good we could possibly be, I think that’s when it really came out that we can pretty much shut out anyone we want,” senior Anthony Clark said.
“We’d always kind of been an offensive program but once you run into really good teams you got to stop them also,” Bartholomew said. “I think our mindset shifted about three years ago on the fact that we wanted to start putting a heavy emphasis on defense and obviously it’s gotten us to where we want to get to.”
And where they want to get to is their first-ever state championship. The Bulldogs face Lake Catholic at New Philadelphia’s Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium at 7 p.m.