DUNCAN FALLS — Licking Valley’s legendary head coach Randy Baughman has accomplished a lot since taking over the program in 1982.
Baughman, who coached at the former Indian Valley North for one year (1981), has 300 career wins and is a member of the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
His team added another victory Saturday night as the Panthers poured it on in the second half against Indian Valley to claim a 56-36 win in a Division IV, Region 15 Regional Final at Philo Athletic Complex.
Licking Valley will face St. Clairsville at 7 p.m. Saturday at a site to be determined. The Red Devils (12-0) stomped Carroll Bloom-Carroll 41-14 in another Regional Final Saturday night.
Indian Valley head coach Matt Lancaster said the Panthers had more bullets than the Braves.
"The better team won...tonight," Lancaster told WTUZ Radio. "We were trying to hang in there, but when we turned the ball over on offense that really killed us in trying to keep up with them."
Indian Valley (10-2) fell behind early and couldn’t recover, as the Braves didn’t have answer for Licking Valley’s offense. It started just 19 seconds into the game as QB Chase Whisner hooked up with Mitchell Ford for a 70-yard TD pass to give the Panthers a 6-0 after a failed PAT.
The Braves answered right back, putting together their own drive that was capped by a 4-yard TD run by Zach Love. After their two-point conversion attempt failed, it was 6-6.
But Licking Valley’s offense was too much, combined with missed tackles and poor execution, as that was the most points allowed by an Indian Valley since Tusky Valley scored 56 points in 2009. Running back Conner McLaughlin and Whisner caused the majority of the damage.
McLaughlin tallied 148 yards rushing and four touchdowns, while adding 55 receiving yards and one score to give him a total of five on the night. Both of Whisner’s pass completions, for 125 yards, went for TDs. The Panthers had one other pass attempt, by Carson Conley on a reverse option that covered 53 yards to Luke Hampton for a TD. That play was the first play after the Braves had cut the deficit to 20-14.
But the Braves didn’t go down without a fight, as Cade Williams dropped a 49-yard TD pass to Braeden Lehigh to pull within 26-22 at halftime. The Braves would get the ball first to start the second half.
Then the second half came, and it went. On the opening kickoff, Zach Love fumbled the ball and the Panthers pounced on it. They went on to score, the second touchdown after turnovers.
"That was huge," Lancaster said about the turnover. "We just scored at the end of the half, felt we had some momentum and had the ball coming out. We felt we were going to score and shore some things up on defense, but it wasn’t meant to be."
Senior Cade Williams completed 11-of-18 passes for 149 yards and three touchdowns.
Senior running back Caden Hostetler finished the night with 106 yards and one touchdown. On the season, he tallied 1,855 yards, good for third highest in school history.
The Braves mentor said the senior class is a special one.
"They set the bar high here and we’ve very proud of the things they have accomplished," he said. "They can hold their heads high and we (the coaches) love them like they were our kids and we’re excited to see what they can do in the future."