WARDSVILLE — Friday night was quite the breakout game for Blair Oaks sophomore quarterback Dylan Hair.
Hair's numbers have been consistent since the season opener of his freshman year, averaging 201.6 yards passing and 71.6 yards rushing per game entering the Class 3 District 4 championship game against the Centralia Panthers.
Hair practically hit his average with 72 yards rushing against the Panthers, but he took his passing game to another level, throwing for 378 yards and seven touchdowns in the Falcons' 60-14 win at the Falcon Athletic Complex.
"I'm in awe that he had seven touchdown passes," Blair Oaks coach Ted LePage said. "I knew he threw it quite well tonight."
The seven touchdown passes were one shy of a Blair Oaks single-game record, set by Nolan Hair in a 60-14 win against Mexico in the 2017 district championship game.
"It shows he's a leader," said Levi Haney, who caught two of Dylan Hair's touchdown passes. "I know he's only a sophomore, but he comes out and he'll give it to you. He'll shoot you straight and let you know what you're doing wrong."
Blair Oaks won the coin toss and elected to receive the opening kick. Hair opened the game with a 40-yard run, but it was called back due to a holding penalty.
No worries. On the next play, he threw a 70-yard touchdown pass to Jake Closser to get the scoring started, just 24 seconds into the game.
"That's preparation," LePage said. "Coach (Lerone) Briggs, coach (Josh) Linnenbrink and coach (Mike) Cook had a game plan and had a script we were going to go off of to start the game. The second play was the play they called."
LePage said the Falcons scripted their first 15 plays during the week of practice leading up to the game, although they don't always stay with the script.
By play No. 15, Blair Oaks was working on its fourth scoring drive.
"Our players have practiced it all week, they have confidence in it," LePage said.
The defense also did its part, holding Centralia (8-2) scoreless in the first quarter with three straight three-and-outs to begin the game.
"Coach always says to start the game with a score and start the game with a stop," said Haney, who also plays linebacker. "If you do that, your chances of winning go up about 75 percent."
One of Blair Oaks' keys to winning the game was slowing down Centralia's rushing attack. Running back Luke Hunter broke loose for a 66-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, but for the rest of the game, the Panthers netted just 60 yards rushing.
"Stop the run," Blair Oaks safety Carson Prenger said. "They're a run team first, and we really committed to that run and made them pass the ball. It worked in our favor."
Centralia quarterback Beau Gordon completed 10-of-21 passes for 131 yards. He also threw two interceptions in the third quarter, both snagged by Cobi Marble. He is tied with Closser for a team-high five interceptions.
"I think we're still growing," LePage said. "There are a lot of things we still left on the table tonight."
Gordon has often been the spark that gets the Centralia offense going, but Blair Oaks held him to 148 total yards of offense.
"We watched film, we got a good look from our scout team and we went in there and executed," Prenger said.
Blair Oaks (10-1) led 33-14 at halftime. Hair opened the third quarter with his best pass of the game, a 29-yard throw to Closser between two defenders in the end zone.
After throwing another touchdown pass to Closser, Hair found Prenger on the near sideline for another completion. At first, it appeared it would be an 11-yard gain for a first down, but Prenger broke a few tackles and then sprinted down the sideline for a 79-yard catch-and-run touchdown.
"I caught that, got the first down, and I just made a play from there," Prenger said.
That catch also pushed Hair past 5,000 yards passing for his career in just his 24th game. He now has 37 touchdown passes this season to seven players.
"I can tell you I don't want to be the other team, that's for sure," Haney said. "When you can throw to that many trustworthy guys, it's like nothing else."
"We have so many weapons, and we just give it to all of them," he said. "I mean, we spread the ball around."
Friday's win is the sixth straight district championship for the Falcons, who have now won a district title in 17 of the past 20 seasons.
"This is my fourth year of it," Haney said. "To keep the tradition alive means so much to me."
Winning the district title was goal No. 2 this season for the Blair Oaks seniors. Goal No. 1 was winning the Tri-County Conference championship, which they accomplished three weeks earlier.
But they're not willing to discuss goal No. 3 just yet. The state playoffs begin Saturday against Lutheran North in the quarterfinals. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. at the Falcon Athletic Complex.
"They're the No. 1 team in the state," LePage said. "We have to stand here and look up at them, and look at what they do best and try to take it away."
Lutheran North (5-0) won the District 3 championship game 45-10 against St. Francis Borgia.
In their only previous meeting, Blair Oaks defeated Lutheran North 48-21 in the Class 2 semifinals in 2018. The Falcons won their third state title the following week.
"We're really, really looking forward to it," Prenger said. "It's another challenge, another roadblock on the way. We're excited to get after it."