Monthly Archives: September 2016

James A. Garfield Vs. Crestview

First, I would like to apologize to my fans for missing week four (last week) of the football season. I was sick and didn’t want to make things uncomfortable for myself or anyone else. Thanks for understanding. Now back to the action!

Week five kicked off with an exciting match-up between the Garfield G-men and the Crestview  Rebels. Garfield entered the game with an undefeated record (4-0) and was tied for first place with Mogadore and Crestwood for first place in the Portage Trail Conference County Division. The Rebels, meanwhile, entered the game with a .500 record (2-2) and were looking to bounce back after two bad losses to Alliance and John F. Kennedy Catholic respectively. Garfield and Crestview fans packed the stadium for this exciting match-up, and were not disappointed!

The game came down to one thing for both teams, one facet of the game that rarely gets discussed, special teams. Garfield made special teams plays all night that completely changed the game, starting with their very first score. The game had gotten off to a very slow start, Crestview stalled on its first drive, and Garfield had done the same, failing to convert on third down, and had to punt from Crestviews 49 yard-line. Garfield Coach Mike Moser sent out RB Seth Morgan (4 att 4 yds, 1 cth 7 yds 1 drp, 2 tck) to punt. Morgan caught the snap and shuffled to the right, but was met by two Rebel defenders who blew by their blockers. Morgan quickly spun to the left and took off down the sideline. By that point most of the Rebel players had their backs turned, and were running down the field themselves to block and had no idea Morgan was blowing by them. Morgan finished the run in the end zone with 7:10 left in the first quarter.

Coach Moser talked about the run after the game, saying “It was a designed play, that wasn’t supposed to happen like that at all. The defenders got by our blockers and got in (Morgan’s) way so he had to improvise. When it comes down to it, it was just a special athlete making a special play.”

Garfield scored again at the 2:03 mark on a five yard run from Senior power RB Kyle Borrelli. The Garfield offensive line dominated on the play, blowing up a huge hole for Borrelli who waltzed into the end zone. After a bad snap on the PAT resulted in a missed pass by the holder for a 2-point conversion the score was 13-0 going into the second.

Garfield got going early again, this time in the second quarter. At the 7:18 mark RB Anthony Denigris (3 att 51 yds 1 TD 1 fum) down a reverse end-around 51 yards for the score. Garfield’s offense often used reverses, fakes, and trickery. This is the first game I’ve seen them play this year, but it is clear the coaching staff did a good job coming up with a plan this year. While the G-men may not have the most explosive athletes across the board, they worked this human chess match like pros. After another stalled drive for Crestview, the G-men got down the field in a hurry after Senior QB Dalton Fall (13-19 184 yds 2 TDs) nailed Senior WR Tommy Bissler (3 cth 73 yds) for a 60 yard gain. Borrelli took it to the house again, this time from 4 yards out to make the score 27-0 with 4:37 to go in the half. The score would remain that way, and the G-men would not look back.

Where Crestview struggled was up front. The G-men were routinely blowing up their offensive line, especially against the run. The Crestview offensive line could not, I repeat, could not block for the run! The were ok blocking for the pass, only giving up one sack, but they got no push on the run. Even though the Rebels got 121 yards rushing as a team, that was really hard running by their RBs and missed tackles. That being said, we move to the second half.

Garfield got the ball first to start the second half, and, remember that special teams thing we talked about earlier…yeah, that…it came up in a huge way right out of the gate. Borrelli took the kick off 85 yards, down the right sideline for most of it, until he was finally tackled at the Rebel five yard-line. After two failed runs Fall found his Senior TE Ben Nowak (3 cth 43 yds 2 TDs), for his first of two touchdowns, in the back of the end zone. Nowak had slipped right behind the zone coverage and drifted to the middle of the end zone where Borrelli found him between two LBs, making the score 34-0 with 11:03 left in the third. Crestview finally got on the board with 3:31 to go on a 5 yard power run by RB Andrew Yanssens (8 att 55 yds 1 TD) behind the LG, making the score 34-7. Garfield responded on its next drive with 1:32 in the third. Fall found Nowak again, for the pairs second touchdown, on a 26 yard fade to the right side of the end zone. Nowak got behind double coverage for an easy completion. The score was 41-7 going into the fourth.

Understandably, with the game being a blowout at that point, there weren’t too many interesting plays. Crestview did get its final score of the game with 10:02 to go in the quarter. QB Caleb Hill (4-9 34 yds 0 TDs, 6 att 2 yds 1 TD 1 fum) took the ball on a fake to the back 10 yards for the score.

After the game I caught up with Garfield Coach Mike Moser, and he talked about when he expected from his team, heading into their first PTC game next week against Waterloo, saying “24 hours. I always tell my guys, you have 24 hours to enjoy this win as much as possible, then it’s back to work. This week we’re going to improve on all the little things. I thought we did a lot of good, and give credit to Crestview for any of the bad things we did. They’re a good team, a great team actually, and we have all the respect in the world for them, which is why we are enjoying this win more than most, because they’re so good.” Now that the season is half way through we will get to enjoy a lot more league play from all teams. I know I am really excited for the second half of the season, and I hope all of you are as well.

Thanks to all my fans for your time,

Zac

Streetsboro Vs. Huron

For its first home game of the year Streetsboro faced a non-conference school: The Huron Tigers. It was a huge night for the Streetsboro school district, and the Streetsboro community as a whole. The school put on a huge tailgating display for anybody who wanted to join, providing food trucks, a face painting station, and even a hey bale ride for the kids. It was truly an exciting night, and it was easy to see that the Streetsboro fans were pumped for their opener. Streetsboro entered the game 1-1, losing their previous game to Crestwood, while Huron entered the game 0-2 and desperate for a win. So with that, let’s see what happened during this showdown.

 

Both teams started off slowly, with not many noteworthy plays. The only score of the quarter came on a 1-yard rushing touchdown by Huron’s Senior RB Jake Ortman (7 Att 32 Yds 2 TDs). Although the score would remain 6-0 because Huron’s kicker, Eric Martin, just didn’t have it in him that night. Martin wound up kicking four kickoffs out of bounds, at one point kicking two in a row out of bounds, and missed that extra point. If I could offer one piece of advice to the young man it would be this, improve your accuracy. Martin has a good amount of power in his leg. As a matter of fact Martin would go on to make two field goals, 32 and 41 yards respectively. So whether it was just nerves that got to Martin, or just a lack of work on his accuracy, he needs to put in a little time on ball placement. Back to the game. Streetsboro just could not get going in the first half. When it comes to the first quarter, they tried several screen passes on their first drive that worked with mild success. Streetsboro would have a decent drive going, but penalties, penalties, and more penalties got in the way. The team looked lost to start. Many players did not know where to line up, plays came in late, there was a lot of poor communication. There was not really one person to blame, it was more of a whole team effort that lead to a poor first half performance.

 

Streetsboro was driving at the end of the first quarter, and into the second quarter. Fans were starting to gain some of that energy back as the Rockets set up on the 15 yard line. Streetsboro’s Junior QB Will Butler, who had a good game on the whole (23-31 213 2 TDs, 16 Att 59 Yds 1 TD 1 Fum), scrambled for a 6-yard gain to his right before being hit by Huron LB Brandon Dowell (1 Tck 1 FF 1 FR). Dowell not only hit him hard enough to dislodge the ball, but also scooped it up and took it 51-yards to the Rockets 40 yard line. Rocket fans were crushed, all their momentum and life had just been sucked out of them. Huron wound up taking that opportunity and turning it into a score. Ortman powered it in for his second touchdown of the game with 9:27 left in the half. After another stalled Streetsboro drive Huron was able to get into field goal position, where Martin nailed a 32-yard field goal to go up 16-0 with 4:34. To add insult to injury Huron went for an onside kick just after the score, and recovered! Now Streetsboro was really in trouble! All energy was gone, and many fans were starting to get upset. Those bad feelings got downright ugly once Streetsboro gave up a 31-yard touchdown run to Junior Huron RB Lucas Critelli¬† (15 Att 115 Yds 1 TD, 3 Cth 30 Yds) with 2:12 left in the second. Critelli took a sweep to the right and just flat out beat all the Rocket defenders, whether it was over-powering them or running faster. By the time the Rockets offense got the ball back there was 2:00 left in the half, and fans were not expecting much. The Rockets were down 23-0 and all hope seemed lost, but that was not the thinking of the team itself. The Rockets drove the ball down field, using a lot of play action roll-outs and were able to get into the Tigers red zone with just over a minute left. Coach Arlesic (Streetsboro) put the ball in the hands of his QB and he delivered on a beautiful fade to the left corner of the end zone, finding Senior slot WR Dakari Carter (9 Cth 101 Yds 2 TDs) for the Rockets first score with 58 seconds left in the half. Coach Arlesic talked about that vitally important score after the game, saying,

“I thought the momentum changed when we got our first touchdown. When we got it we were able to sit back, take a breath, and say ‘you know what, we got this’.” Coach also commented on the teams mistake and penalties of the first half, saying “We (the coaching staff) didn’t expect that at all. We wanted to come out here and use our speed, but give Huron credit, they played better than we did. We had a turnover, and gave up the onside kick, which gave them 14 points, and really wound up making the difference at half time.” It was clear that Streetsboro had a lot of work to do in the second half, but they proved they were up to the task.

 

The second half did not start out pretty for the Rockets by any means, it was more of the same. Huron got the ball, and started on their own 30 yard line. Huron called a QB read, and the ball wound up in the hands of Critelli who took it 70-yards to the house on the first offensive play of the half, making the score 30-8 real quick. Streetsboro did not take long to respond though. On the ensuing kickoff WR Keshaun Jones (9 Cth 55 Yds) the kick 80-yards for the touchdown. In an instant life was back in the Streetsboro fans as Jones broke the first tackle, second, third, fourth, and finally just out sprinted everyone and scored the touchdown. But, as excited as the Rockets were, they knew they had a long way to go yet. The Rockets wound up missing the 2-point conversion, making the score 30-6 Tigers. The Rockets defense had life, and completely shut down anything Huron tried to do, especially through the air. Streetsboro crept even closer when, off a fumbled snap by Huron’s punter which resulted in red zone field position for the Rockets, Rocket QB Butler powered it in with 58 seconds. After Butler connected with Jones on a 2-point conversion the score was 30-22 with one quarter of action to go.

 

Both teams battled hard in the fourth quarter. Both defenses shut down the opposing offenses. Streetsboro fans were on the edge of their cool bleacher seats, some barely being able to look when their defenses were on the field. It wasn’t until there was just 2:00 left in the whole game before Streetsboro was able to get a solid drive going. The Rockets faught, scratched, and clawed their way into the Tigers red zone. Everyone, including myself, was on their feet as the Rockets drive stalled on the four yard line. The intensity could not have been higher as the Rockets and Tigers lined up against each other on a 4th and goal from the 4 with just 1:00. Streetsboro had no timeouts, and a failure to get into the endzone would surely result in doom. Butler and Junior powerhouse back Kendal Russell (9 Att 67 Yds 1 TD) waited in a shot gun formation for the snap. Butler took the snap and handed off to Russell who was stopped in the backfield by a defender…but he would not be denied by just one Tiger. He bowled over the poor young man and headed for the end zone, where he was met by TWO Tiger defenders this time…but Russell was not going to be denied by just two Tigers. Russell obliterated the two defenders and scored, making the game 30-28. The Rockets gave it to Russell again for the 2-point conversion, and he did what he does best, slamming it up the middle to even the score at 30, sending it into overtime.

 

In overtime Huron got the ball first on the 20 yard line. They failed to even get a first down and had to settle for a 41-yard field goal by Martin. Now it was the Rockets turn, and a touchdown would win it. The Rockets drove the ball down to the 4 yard line, where the whole crowd expected Russell to run over a few more defenders. Instead Butler took the snap and nailed Dakari Carter on a hard slant to win the game. It was a good finish to one of the most exciting games I’ve covered in my short career. After the game Coach Arlesic gave a few comments about his teams resilient effort, saying,

“We kept believing, no one quit on our side line, and that’s a sign of a great team. We didn’t point fingers after the Crestwood loss. We owned it, and came out here as a team, and never gave up.”

Rootstown Vs. Fairport Harbor (Harding)

Hello Portage Trail Conference fans! I know I am just as happy as you are that high school football is back across the nation, and especially in our local northeastern Ohio area. I have to apologize to my fans for missing week one, it was completely my fault, I had my dates mixed up, thinking this week was the first. But, I am happy to report I was on the ball this week, and covered a great game for fans of the Rootstown Rovers. It was almost a perfect night, weather wise, for football. Cool, crisp, a slight breeze. Rovers fans packed the stadium in anticipation of their team starting 2-0 on the season after a solid victory in the first week against Newton Falls. The Rovers did not disappoint either, winning 56-7. Here’s how it happened:

The game started off very slow for both sides. The Rovers and Skippers both pounded the rock on the ground early. The Rovers only threw three passes in the first half, with one completion for a measly 7 yards, while the Skippers only threw one pass in the first quarter, and it was dropped by WR Mitch Yommer (1 catch 80 yards 1 TD). Yommer, in all honesty, had a very rough night. He was redeemed by one play that will be discussed later, but he had four drops throughout the game. He has to sure up his hands by Fair Port’s next game. The Rovers defense did a great job of closing up any rushing lanes the Skippers attempted to make. The Rovers front seven, led by Seth Noel (6 tackles 2 TFL). The action didn’t pick up until the second quarter, when the Rovers really let loose.

The Rovers scored 35 points in the second quarter due, in large part, because of their play through the air. Sophomore QB Scott Sterger (7/12 139 yards 2 TDs) had an amazing second quarter, with almost all of their score coming as a result of his passes. The first score of the game came in the first minute of the second quarter. Sterger connected with Junior TE Nathan Moore (2 catches 76 yards 1 TD) on a 56 yard pass. Moore found himself wide open in the middle of the field after slanting over from the left side. He got behind the Safety and never let up, even dragging a defender into the end zone! After a stop on the other end the Rovers went on another nice drive that was caped off by an easy 1 yard rushing touchdown, up the middle, by Christian Reddick (12 attempts 85 yards 3 TDs) with 9:19 to go in the second. Reddick was helped by two consecutive 19 yard receptions by Giovanni Sibbio (5 att 33 yds, 4 cth 47 yds 1 TD) and Dillon Conner (5 att 47 yds, 1 cth 19 yds) respectively. The Skippers starting QB Tanner Nahorniak (1/11 80 yds 1 TD) went down with an injury with 7:24 left in the second, which meant the Skippers had to send out Freshmen backup QB Sammy Schuster. How to put into words…Sammy is…young…we’ll go with young. I am not quite sure how the Skipper coaching staff thought it would be a good idea to make Sammy a Quarterback…but the experiment didn’t work. Let me make it clear, I don’t enjoy ‘ripping’ people as they say…but the play calling the coaches gave Sammy was terrible. I can’t put it all on the kid, he went out and at least tried to do his job. The Fairport Harbor coaching staff should feel embarrassed and ashamed that they threw this Freshmen out their and immediately had him throwing the ball down field. You can’t do that to a Freshmen, it is just inexcusable. The Skippers swung Schuster out to the left off of play action on his first play. The pass was intended for a receiver that was at least 12 yards down field if not 15. To the average person, that may not seem like a long with to throw, but to a Freshmen throwing his first pass that is a very tough play to run. He has to fake it to the back, turn his own back to the play (so he doesn’t see the receivers or defense for a split second), and try to complete a pass on the run. Long story short, that lead to the third score for the Rovers. Chandler England, CB for the Rovers, intercepted the ball, which was thrown high and behind the intended receiver, and took it 21 yards to the end zone with 7:17 in the quarter. The game stalled a little after that, with both sides pounding the rock once more before the Rovers Reddick broke his first long TD of the day. Reddick took a sweep to the right 27 yards to the house, weaving his way through defenders, giving the Rovers a 28-0 lead. Fair Port Harbors lone bright moment of the game came not long after that. Starting QB Nahorniack returned with 3:04 left and delivered a strike with 1:07 to go to the aforementioned Mitch Yommer for an 80 yard TD. While I did give Yommer grief earlier for his rough day, I have to give credit where credit is due: Yommer is an incredible athlete with a tremendously high top speed. He caught the ball with several defenders in position to tackle him, but nobody could catch him. So, there you go Fair Port, I gave ya one. With less than a minute to go the Rovers made a mad dash for the end zone to sneak in one last score. Sterger delivered some strikes, and caped it off with a cool 10 yard touchdown pass to Sibbio off a play action roll out to the right.

After the game I caught up with Coach Mark Geis (Rovers) to talk about his game plan. I asked whether it was the plan to start slowly and attack strong in the second, or if it just felt right in the moment? He responded “We were getting good gains in the first, but we started getting so many holding penalties we decided to switch things up in the second. It wound up working out for us though.” Coach Geis was spot on. I must admit I did not keep track of the penalties in the game (I prefer to focus on as many positive stats as possible) but every time I looked up it seemed the Rovers were being called for a hold. It surprised me, as it did Coach Geis and his staff, because Rootstown is so much better than Fair Port, and they were getting so many good chunks of yardage on each play, they didn’t need to hold at all. But, any of us who have ever played sports, even recreational sports, will know that sometimes we can’t get out of our own way.

The second half didn’t provide much entertainment, the game was already won. But there is something that Coaches love about a game already won, at least you can get the young guys some experience. Coach Geis talked about that after the game, saying “We love being able to get those guys out there. They work just as hard as everyone else, with two-a-days, and all the long practices, they just don’t usually get the payoff. We were happy we could play those guys almost all the second half.”

One player that stood out to me, and the rest of the crowd, in the second half was Freshmen RB Gavin Schlaubach (3 att 57 yds 2 TDs). Schlaubach scored his first touchdown in the fourth quarter with 5:56 to go on a simple right sweep from 1 yard out. Schlaubach would score again with 59 seconds on a 45 yard counter to the right (I’m saying to the right a lot aren’t I, might want to sure that side up Fair Port). Gavin is only 5’9, 150 lbs, but he plays like a much larger back. He has a lot of speed and some shifty moves. I think Schlaubach is a player the Rovers will really count on down the line.

Rootstown is now 2-0, as said before, on the season. They play East Canton next week in a match-up that all Rovers fans are in high anticipation of. It would be great for the Rovers to start 3-0 on the season before they get into league play.

Thank you to all of my fans for reading my articles, and I appreciate any feedback I get

Zachary Bellar