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High school football season kicks off
High school football season kicks off
By TONY LANGE
Division III University School will host Division V Hawken Saturday at 1 p.m. The rivals have a long history of season openers against each other.
In 2009, Hawken defeated University School for the first time in at least five years. The Hawks went on to make a playoff appearance and finished 9-3 after having a losing record in 2008.
When playing University School, the Hawks rushed the ball 343 yards on 58 carries and completed just one pass for 27 yards on three attempts. On defense, they shut out the Preppers during the second half, handing them their worst loss of the season, 27-13.
The Preppers were too overconfident going into that game, head coach Jim Stephens said. This year, they will have to be prepared to stop the run on defense and get first downs on offense, he said.
"Offense and defense go together. They had the ball for a long time, but that's because our offense didn't generate anything," he said. "Our team overlooked Hawken. That was the single most disappointing performance of the year for us."
US lost three of its first four games in 2009 and finished 6-4. Hawken was its only loss by more than two points.
This year, Hawken will be one of US's four home games.
Chagrin Falls has won its season opener for four consecutive years and hopes to extend the streak against visiting Crestwood Friday at 7 p.m.
In 2009, the Division III Red Devils were a new opponent for the Division IV Tigers, who routed them 42-7 in week one. The Tigers scored all their points in the first three quarters, while the Red Devils entered the end zone in the fourth.
Chagrin Falls went on to a 14-1 season, losing in the state final against Kettering Archbishop Alter.
It's going to be a natural tendency for people to want to compare this year's team to the 2009 Tigers, head coach Mark Iammarino said.
"If we focus on keeping our level of preparation and practice, I think the performance will take care of itself," he said.
Solon matched up against Shaker Heights last year in the season opener and shut out the Red Raiders, 19-0. It was the Comets' first game against Shaker since 2004. The Division I opponents will match up Friday at 7 p.m.
The Comets have been victorious in week one play for six consecutive years but haven't opened their season at home since 2006.
Opening night is always a big deal, said Jim McQuaide, who has a 34-3 home record during his seven seasons as Solon's head coach. "None of our guys on our team have played their first game of the season here at Stewart Field, which we love playing here," he said.
In 2009, the Comets rushed the ball 148 yards on 39 carries and completed 15 of 30 passes for 220-plus yards against Shaker.
"Our goal would always be to be as balanced as possible when we run and pass. But if something is working, we're going to do it," McQuaide said.
Ahead 6-0 at halftime last year, McQuaide said he expects a close game this year. "They have a lot of guys back from last year. They're much improved," he said.
After starting the season 0-6 last year, Gilmour hopes to get things going a little earlier this year. The Lancers' loss to Leavittsburg LaBrae last year was the first time they lost a season opener in at least five years.
This year, the Lancers kick off their season against the visiting Beachwood Bison at 1 p.m. Saturday. The last time they played the Bison was in 2004, when the Lancers won, 42-14.
The Division V Lancers finished 2-8 last year, while the Division IV Bison finished 6-4.
Gilmour head coach Matt Simon said he wants his team to just play hard and play well.
"We're looking for our team to make some improvement over our start last year," he said. "It's the first game of the season, so you want to try to get off on the best start as you can."
Kenston will open its third straight season at Kent Roosevelt at 7 p.m. Friday. The previous two seasons, Kenston got shut out, 38-0 and 35-0.
This will be the Bombers' sixth consecutive season matching up against the Rough Riders in week one. The home team always has won.
In 2009, the Bombers rushed for 62 yards on 29 carries and had four first downs. They added two more first downs with passing, throwing the ball 40 yards on five of 20 attempts. The Rough Riders accumulated 468 total yards, 254 of which were by passing.
This year, the Bombers have to be able to run the ball and keep the Rough Riders off the field, head coach Roger Vasey said. "If we can't do that, it's going to be very challenging," he said. "We have to get points on the board."
Once again, the Bombers will have to stop Kent Roosevelt's third-year quarterback, Evan Shimensky, who has made a verbal commitment to play at Kent State University. In 2009, he completed more than 50 percent of his passes.
In the game against the Bombers, Shimensky was 19 of 27 with three touchdown passes.
"He is very elusive," Vasey said. "With him, the play is not over until the whistle blows."
West Geauga came out victorious in week one last year against their new opponents, the Chardon Hilltoppers. The final score was 39-7. The Division II teams will match up again at 7 p.m. Friday.
The Wolverines finished 9-2 in 2009 with their only two losses coming against Chagrin Falls during the regular season and Ashland in the first round of the postseason playoffs. The Hilltoppers finished 2-8.
West Geauga will be focused on its own game Friday, first-year head coach Lou Cirino said.
"We're not necessarily concerned about what Chardon is going to do, but more about what we need to do to win, and that's protecting the football, that's playing great defense and then winning the special-teams battles," he said.
Week one sets the tone for the whole season, Cirino said. "I think you can tell a lot about your team week one," he said. "It's a new team every year. It's the team's first time playing together on a Friday night."
This will be Orange's fifth consecutive year kicking off the season with the Bay Village Rockets. The Lions are 3-1 against their opening rivals after losing last year. Both teams are Division III competitors. The Lions will host the matchup at 7 p.m. Friday.
In 2009, the Lions passed for 73 yards, completing six of 21 attempts, and ran for 48 yards on 26 carries. They punted the ball seven times.
The game was scoreless at halftime, but the Rockets posted six points in the third quarter and defeated the Lions, 6-0.
Orange finished the season 3-7, while Bay Village was 7-3. It was the Rockets' first winning season since the Lions started playing them in 2006.
This year, the Lions' key to success is to maintain their concentration and continue to play with intensity, head coach Adam Bechlem said.
"Just being focused on a daily basis with passion and excitement," he said.
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