CANTON, Ohio - After barely qualifying for the state playoffs, Akron (Ohio) St. Vincent-St. Mary High School put on a stellar performance on Saturday to take the Ohio Division III state championship. The Fighting Irish doubled up Bellevue 42-21 and put together an excellent defensive effort, led in part by junior linebacker Dante Booker. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound prospect has been regarded as one of Ohio's best prospects for a while and now he is a state champion.
"We have a great defense and great coaching," said Booker after the game. "We're just a real tight-knit team. This (state championship) means everything. I'm at a loss of words, coming to SVSM, this is what you want to do and want to accomplish."
Booker led the team in tackles for the game with nine and also recovered a fumble, capping off a strong junior season that saw him win Defensive Player of the Year honors in D3.
"It was a little bit (difficult to keep nerves under control)," Booker explained. "After those first couple series, I started to get comfortable."
Booker put his name on the map after a huge sophomore season and while some nagging injuries prevented him from matching those numbers, the athletic defender feels he is an overall better football player this year than he was a year ago.
"I'd like to say I'm a better player than last year," he said. "Now that I've been here before, I've got more experience under my belt. I'm proud of just the way I go out there and work hard, get to the ball, and play as hard as I can."
In terms of recruiting, Booker has pretty much shut things down during his junior season and doesn't seem to be in too big of a hurry when it comes to making a decision.
"I'll probably look at it more going into my senior year," he said. "I don't really have any favorites, just looking forward to high school right now."
Ohio State is one of the many schools that has offered Booker already and the Buckeyes have been recruiting him hard. Booker has reciprocated that interest and was excited to see Ohio State coaches such as Urban Meyer, Luke Fickell, and Mike Vrabel on the sidelines watching him win a state title.
"It was definitely awesome," Booker said. "For them to come out and watch me play, it was special."
Booker is rated a four-star prospect by Rivals.com.