BOWLING GREEN — This horse race wasn't close.
DeSales' Colts beat Newport Central Catholic's Thoroughbreds 26-0 in the Russell Athletic/KHSAA Class 2A football finals in front of 6,188 fans in WKU's L.T. Smith Stadium on Friday.
Unlike last year's title game in which DeSales outlasted NewCath to the finish line 34-26, the Colts won the rematch going away.
Austin Johnson, a junior quarterback, completed seven of 11 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown (to Austin Craig). He ran 13 times for 84 yards and a TD. He also kicked two field goals (26 and 27 yards).
"We played probably the best football we've ever played," Johnson said. "We were unbeatable."
The Colts bolted to a 16-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back.
"Getting up quick like that knocked them out," Johnson said. "They couldn't stop us."
DeSales piled up 387 yards, and despite making three turnovers, was never in trouble. Its defense smothered NewCath all night. The Thoroughbreds ran 50 plays and netted just 50 yards.
It was DeSales' fourth shutout in its last six games.
"Defense wins championships," senior Bryant Pirtle said. "Everybody was getting to the ball, nobody was taking any plays off, and we were just playing our game."
Colts senior Adam Nord, who had three interceptions and a sack, was named the game's MVP.
"Our defense has played very, very well all year, particularly in the playoffs," Coach Harold Davis said.
Ryan Smith led DeSales in tackles. Pirtle, Michael Wheatley and Bryce Elzy also led the defensive effort.
NewCath lost its first four games of the season and entered the playoffs with a 4-5 record, but Dan Wagner's Thoroughbreds found their stride and reached the finals for the sixth time in eight years.
But NewCath couldn't get any traction against the DeSales defense.
Sophomore quarterback Patrick Henschen completed 12 of 26 passes for 71 yards and was picked off three times. Junior running back Jacob Smith, who came into the game with 1,477 rushing yards and 25 TDs, carried 16 times for a net 13 yards.
Pirtle said DeSales' title this year was better than last year "because it shows last year's wasn't a fluke."
Davis' comparison of the two championships?
"Last year I was in a daze somewhat. I enjoyed this one a little better because I was more conscious," he said with a laugh.