[ back ]
Tigers, Bombers remain in CVC title hunt
Tigers, Bombers remain in CVC title hunt
By TONY LANGE
Kenston traveled to West Geauga for a high-stakes Chagrin Valley Conference clash last Friday and after four quarters, more football still had to be played.
The Bombers kept their playoff hopes alive with a 21-14 overtime victory and improved to 5-1 in the Chagrin Division. The Bombers are 7-2 overall, heading into Friday night's showdown with league leader Aurora (6-0, 8-1).
West Geauga dropped to 3-3 in the conference and 6-3 overall and likely is out of the playoff picture. The Wolverines were eighth in their region in the computer rankings before the loss. The top eight teams in each region make it to the playoffs.
Chagrin Falls also improved to 5-1 in the Chagrin Division and 8-1 overall with a 42-22 triumph over Orange. The Lions fell to 1-5 in the league and 3-6 overall.
West Geauga 14
In the days leading up to their game against West Geauga, the Bombers prepared to stop the Wolverines play-making quarterback, Joe Drenski. At game time, he was nowhere to be seen.
Kenston tried real hard to simulate in practice what Drenski does in games, head coach Roger Vasey said.
"It was a different football player," Vasey said of Zak Kucera, who started at quarterbacked after Drenski was diagnosed with mononucleosis. "They went from a team that was real heavy on the quarterback run and option to being a pretty good throwing team."
Kucera passed on 24 plays for two touchdowns. The Wolverines also lost three fumbles and an interception. Their special teams gave up a dropped punt.
Kenston safety Alex Kocheff said the defensive game was all about the acclimation from the guys up front and the linebackers.
"They're making the plays, I'm just cleaning up," said Kocheff, who recovered two fumbles for the Bombers. "We practiced all week coming after Drenski and we needed to stop him, but they came out with a new guy and we adjusted to it and made plays."
The Bombers' offense stuck to its game plan of running. They rushed for 201 yards on 50 carries. The overtime carries proved to be the difference maker.
Starting with the ball on the 20-yard line, the Bombers first put the pigskin in the hands of Percy Johnson, who ran for 18 yards through the Wolverines. On the next play, Pat Porter carried the ball into the end zone and then kicked the extra point to put Kenston up, 21-14. Porter rushed for 113 yard on 25 carries.
"It's nice to score in two plays," Vasey said. "That's what you want to do, especially when both of those guys play defense as well."
After giving up an overtime lead that resulted in a loss against Chagrin Falls earlier in the season, the Bombers' defense had a taste of overtime defeat fresh in memory. "Yeah, our guys were certainly motivated by that," Vasey said.
The Bombers stuffed the Wolverines on their first-down run attempt to put them at second and 10. The Wolverines then threw three incomplete passes and failed to gain a single yard in overtime.
The Bomber defense didn't do anything special, Kocheff said.
"We just trusted our technique," he said. "We did what the coach taught us. We manned them up. We did what we did."
The win gives the Bombers a shot at their goal, Kocheff said.
"We have a game next week for the Chagrin Valley title. That's what it means," he said.
Kenston scored its other two touchdowns in the first and fourth quarters.
The first touchdown down came during the opening drive of the game when the Bombers marched 70 yards on 11 running plays in 5:18. Kenston quarterback Austin Zachem scored on a one-yard carry.
"We did a lot of running out of the backfield. We put some options in too," Zachem said. "That's pretty much it. We stuck to our game plan because it's been working for us."
After the Wolverines tied the game at 7-7 with 33 seconds left in the half and then took a 14-7 lead in the third quarter, Zachem got the play calls to throw the ball a little more than usual. He completed seven of 13 passes.
"We felt there were thing we could take advantage of with the way their secondary was playing," Vasey said. "So, we threw a little more and Austin, that's something he's certainly capable of. He's got a strong arm and continues to get better every week."
Zachem said he is more comfortable with passing plays than he was earlier in the season.
"I take my time," he said. "It has gotten to the point where I'm not so nervous about it anymore. I knew they're going to be biting on the run because we run it so much and hopefully our guys will get open and I'll get it to them."
Johnson scored the tying touchdown on a four-yard carry in the fourth quarter after the Bombers took over the ball on the West Geauga 27-yard line following the dropped punt. Johnson finished with 56 yards rushing on 13 carries.
In week nine last season, the Bombers lost to West Geauga and dropped to 6-3 and out of the CVC hunt. This year, they improved to 7-2 and have a shot at the title.
Chagrin Falls 42
When Orange focused on the passing game and outside runners last Friday, playoff-bound Chagrin Falls just rammed the pigskin up the middle.
The Tigers ran the ball more than 50 times in the game, which is more than they've done all season, head coach Mark Iammarino said. At 6-foot and 200 pounds, Jack Hinman was the go-to guy with three touchdown carries.
"They were concerned about the outside and the pass, so the plays that were open were running the ball in the middle with Jack and he ran the ball very hard," Iammarino said. "It's been a consistent performance by Jack all year long."
His touchdown carries came on 11, 13 and three-yard runs in the second, third and fourth quarters.
After the Lions' Chase Ullman scored and brought Orange within six points in the third quarter, the Tigers kept their feet on the gas pedal, Iammarino said.
"They're a good offensive team so we felt like we were going to have to keep scoring until the game was over," he said.
The Tigers' only passing touchdown came during a reverse play in the third period when Spencer Diedrich threw a 68-yard pass to Marc Geraci.
"That's something we have been practicing for a while," Iammarino said. "Marc and Spencer have been a tremendous and productive duo for us all this year."
Kurt Vidmer also scored a touchdown on a two-yard run in the first quarter, which was followed by a successful two-point conversion when Tommy Iammarino completed a pass to Andrew Winkelman.
Ricky Vanelli kicked two field goals for the Tigers, a 26-yarder in the first quarter and a 27-yarder in the second stanza.
In an out-of-division matchup with Cardinal Huskies (4-5) last Friday, Hawken (3-6) looked to move the ball early in the game. But, it would not last.
In the first quarter, the Hawks had a 15-play drive that covered 61 yards and ended with a Jeremy Simmons two-yard touchdown run.
In the second quarter, the Hawks recovered a Cardinal turnover and covered 39 yards as Jacob Gries scored on a seven-yard run to put Hawken up 14-7 at halftime.
Beyond those two drives, the Hawks had just 40 more yards on offense.
"We didn't look too bad in the second half," head coach Cliff Walton said. "Second half we came out and we just couldn't get anything going. They stopped our run game. They ran for about 350 yards in the game. It was a disappointing night for us."
Down eight points going into the fourth quarter, it was still a one touchdown game. However, Cardinal added two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
[ back ]