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