By Zach Baker
NORWALK - For all the success of Columbian's program over the last two decades, Brian Colatruglio's 2012 Tornadoes managed to do something that hadn't been done in a half century.
With a 28-6 victory over Norwalk in a downpour Friday night, Columbian achieved perfection - the program's first 10-0 season since Kirstie Alley replaced Shelley Long on "Cheers" - 1987.
Trust me kids, it was a big deal at the time.
And so was Columbian's win Friday night, which, combined with a loss by Toledo Central Catholic, vaulted it into the No. 1 spot in Division II Region 6. The Tornadoes also clinched the Northern Ohio League outright.
"It's such a special thing," Colatruglio said. "For 10 straight weeks, against some pretty good competition, we found a way to win. There's a couple things here that hadn't been done in a long time. One is going 10-0, the other one's trying to win a regional championship."
The quest for the latter goal will begin next Friday, when Columbian will host its playoff opener at Frost-Kalnow Stadium. As of press time, that opponent had yet to be determined.
As for Friday's game itself, it took a while for the Tornadoes to get going, on both sides of the ball.
Norwalk took the opening possession and took all of four plays to score. The final one was a swing pass from Jake Fetherolf to Jordan Johnson for 34 yards and a touchdown. The extra point was missed, and Norwalk led 6-0.
"The kids came out and played hard, they responded like we knew they would," said Norwalk coach Chris MacFarland, a 1987 Columbian graduate. "They came out and played."
The Tornadoes responded in the second quarter. After getting a key stop in their own territory defensively on fourth down, TC marched down the field, tying the game on a 32-yard TD run by Ryan Lynch with 5:10 left before halftime. After an offsides on the point after touchdown, Colatruglio sent the offense out to go for two. Jack Jacoby ran in the conversion for an 8-6 lead.
"Lynch got us going early," Colatruglio said. "He's done that a couple of weeks now."
Lynch finished with 150 yards rushing. Jack Jacoby, who added to the Tornadoes lead with a two yard touchdown run in the final minute of the half, finished with 205 yards.
"Two-headed monster," Jacoby said. "We definitely support each other. It's a full effort by everyone, but Ryan and I have some fun with it."
Jacoby made it 22-6 at the 8:25 mark of the third quarter when he broke loose for a 46-yard jaunt. The Tornadoes ran for 384 yards in the contest.
A big reason for that was the play of Columbian's line, which created holes for the backs much of the night.
"We figured, if we're gonna win this thing, we had to take over sometime," said lineman Chandler Hoover. "I think that we wore (Norwalk) down."
Norwalk ended the season 7-3. It was eliminated from playoff contention with the loss to TC.
Columbian closed out the scoring later in the third quarter, when Vince Anway intercepted Fetherolf and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown.
"They were spreading us out, trying to dink and dunk us," Colatruglio said. "He got a great drop underneath that, and I didn't know he was that fast, honestly."
From there, it was only a matter of time before Columbian celebrated a perfect regular season.
"Greatest feeling, ever," Hoover said.
And it's far from over.