Skip to main content

Ohio high school football top stars and best performances (11/27/2023)

From Kirtland's Will Bates to Massillon's Mike Wright, Jr., there were several big-time high school football performances across the state of Ohio in the state semifinals

There were several big-time high school football performances across the state of Ohio this past weekend as the playoffs entered the state semifinals. Here are some of those performances.

To nominate a performance in future weeks, please send an email to

Will Bates, Kirtland

The senior defensive end had three of the Hornets' eight sacks in a 17-0 win over Garaway. Kirtland gave up just 55 yards to secure their 12th state final appearance in the last 13 years.

Gavin Connor, Archbishop Alter

Connor scored on a quarterback sneak to give the Knights an early lead and threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to make the score 21-0 in the first quarter. Alter blanked Steubenville 48-0 in a Division IV state semifinal.

Braylon Gabes, Bishop Watterson

Helped the Eagles punch a ticket to the Division III state championship with 116 yards and two touchdowns in the first half of action. Gabes suffered an injury in the third quarter as Watterson went on to defeat Celina 27-14.

Joel Gehret, Versailles

Gehret finished with 126 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries as Versailles beat Columbus Grove 30-13 in the Division VI state semifinals.

Ethan Heitkamp, Marion Local

Heitkamp scored touchdowns on runs of nine and 27 yards and finished with 75 yards on nine carries as the Flyers shut out Patrick Henry 42-0.

D’Shawntae Jones, Glenville

The senior running back rushed for 256 yards and four touchdowns as the Tarblooders beat Canton South 42-21. Glenville will return to the state championship for the fourth time in program history.

Trenton Kruse, Liberty Center

Led the Tigers’ offense with 184 yards and a touchdown to help knock off Valley View 14-10.

Jayvin "Bay Bay" Norman, Springfield 

Norman had three touchdowns, including a 32-yard reception in the second quarter to put Springfield on the scoreboard. The Wildcats defeated Archbishop Moeller  26-19 to advance to their third consecutive state championship game.

Colin Pearson, Dalton

In Dalton’s 55-7 win over Caldwell, Pearson finished 9-of-10 for 190 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for another score on the ground.

Brayden Richards, Perry

Richards helped send Perry to its first state championship game behind two scores, including a 58-yard touchdown reception. The Pirates defeated Harvest Prep 22-8.

Jon Slaper, St. Edward

In the Eagles’ 26-3 win over Hilliard Bradley, St. Edward’s defense held the Jaguars to 102 offensive yards. Slaper led the effort with six tackles, 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss.

Jaylen Watson, Toledo Central Catholic

In a 35-7 victory against Chardon, The University of Iowa commit scored two touchdowns — one on an 18-yard reception and another on a 12-yard run.

Brandon White, St. Edward

The sophomore tailback rushed for 240 yards and three touchdowns on 40 carries en route to a 26-3 victory over Hilliard Bradley.

Xavier Williams, Archbishop Hoban

Scored on a 39-yard run to help Hoban build a comeback late in the third quarter. Williams rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown on eight carries in the Knights’ 17-14 win over Avon.

Mike Wright, Jr., Massillon

Made an impact on both sides of the ball rushing for two touchdowns and racking up two sacks, seven tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss to help lead Massillon to a 55-7 win over Anderson.

(Feature image of St. Edward running back Brandon White by Jeff Harwell, SBLive Sports)