New guy in town

Solon 5-foot-9 sophomore receiver Joel Kpassou had six catches for 36 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown, in his varsity debut against St. Vincent-St. Mary last week.

Orrville at Kenston

The Kenston boys (1-2) will get back to the grindstone when they welcome the Division V Orrville Red Riders (2-2), of Wayne County, to town at 7 p.m. Friday at Bomber Stadium in Bainbridge Township.

The host Bombers are coming off two straight losses, including a 26-14 effort against Eastlake North last week.

Kenston 230-pound senior linebacker Anthony Valocchi had a 90-yard fumble recovery to tie that game, 14-14, at the end of the third quarter, but a three-and-out punt and an interception were the story of the Bombers’ offense in the fourth.

Defensively, Kenston forced two fumbles but surrendered 313 yards rushing on 54 Ranger carries, including four plays of 20-plus yards for North.

Orrville, under 15th-year head coach Doug Davault, who owns a 94-68 record at the helm, is coming off a 27-14 victory against Loudonville (1-3) in a game that the Red Riders’ defense came up with three interceptions.

Offensively, Orrville senior quarterback Cooper Haley threw a pair of touchdown strikes in the fourth quarter, including a 56-yard toss to D’Vontez Brown and a 25-yard toss to Domanik Jonas to pull away.

While Orrville was an 11-2 regional runner-up program last year, they’ve played their past three games without first-team all-Ohio senior running back Marquael Parks, who was arrested earlier this month in Stark County and faces charges on five felony counts.

Kenston and Orrville are new opponents.

TONY’S TAKE: Kenston wins, 28-16.

Mayfield at Chardon

The Division III AP No. 1-ranked Chardon gridders (4-0) will perhaps be seeking some revenge when they host the Division II Mayfield Wildcats (2-0) at 7 p.m. Friday at Memorial Field.

Mayfield is the defending Western Reserve Conference champion and handed the Hilltoppers their lone loss in league play last season.

Chardon is coming off a 35-7 victory against previously undefeated Riverside (3-1) in a game the Hilltoppers led just 7-0 at halftime. They were the first team to score a touchdown on Riverside’s defense this season, and they scored five of them.

Defensively, Chardon won the turnover battle with 6-foot-5 senior safety Brady Toth, 6-foot-4 junior safety Nathanael Sulka and 5-foot-11 sophomore cornerback Trey Liebhardt all collecting interceptions.

Mayfield, under fifth-year head coach Ross Bandiera, who owns 28-18 record at the helm, got a late start to its season because of COVID-19 but is coming off a 44-7 victory against Brush (2-2).

The Wildcats scored all their points in the first half of that game, including a pair of defensive touchdowns and a safety. Mayfield forced Brush into six turnovers and held the Arcs’ offense to negative yards in that half.

Mayfield also owns a 29-14 victory against Willoughby South (1-3), a team Chardon dominated, 50-0, in week two.

In 2019, Mayfield defeated Chardon, 21-7.

TONY’S TAKE: Chardon wins, 21-7.

Chagrin Falls at Orange

Both teams will be playing their first rivalry game of the season when Chagrin Falls (3-1) and Orange (0-2) square up in Chagrin Valley Conference play at 7 p.m. Friday at Lewis Black Stadium in Pepper Pike.

Chagrin Falls, under 26th-year head coach Mark Iammarino, who owns a 183-98 record at the helm, is coming off a its first loss of the season, 31-21, against four-time defending league champion Perry.

The Tigers owned a 21-14 lead with 4:35 to go in the third quarter of that game, but a 65-yard touchdown run by Perry and then a Chagrin fumble on the ensuing kickoff return did the Tigers in.

Chagrin’s offense was carried by senior back Cam O’Connor’s 79 yards rushing and sophomore back Donny Hardy’s 100 yards rushing, while featured senior back Xavier Perez and senior receiver Josh Norton were both inactive.

Defensively, Chagrin 230-pound senior Dawson Pierce and 205-pound senior Owen McClintock led the linebacker corps with 17 tackles apiece.

Orange, under 12th-year head coach Adam Bechlem, who owns a 55-59 record at the helm, is coming off a 48-12 hurting against Division VI AP No. 8-ranked Wickliffe (4-0) in a game the Lions’ defense surrendered 405 yards rushing.

Offensively, Orange moved the chains 15 times with 5-foot-11 senior quarterback Zak Basharat going 13-of-24 passing for 115 yards, with eight completions to 6-foot-3 senior receiver Tyler Hoffman, while 190-pound senior back Greg Beard had 26 carries for 116 yards.

In 2019, Chagrin beat Orange, 27-13.

TONY’S TAKE: Chagrin wins, 28-20.

Edgewood at West Geauga

The West Geauga gridders (3-1) will keep the pigskin rumbling when they host the Division IV Edgewood Warriors (1-3), of Ashtabula County, at 7 p.m. Friday at Howell Field in Chester Township.

The host Wolverines are coming off a 38-0 skunking of Harvey (1-3) in a game that was just 3-0 at intermission, in large part to three West G turnovers in the first half. But West Geauga took care of business in the second half, despite missing featured senior back Trae Zimmermann from swelling to his repaired knee.

In turn, sophomore back Burke Buell stepped up with eight carries for 80 yards, while senior Peter Sanelli had nine carries for 73 yards.

Defensively, 6-foot-3, 215-pound senior linebacker Julian Cicchella took over with 10 tackles, seven for losses, and three sacks for the Wolverines.

Edgewood, under third-year head coach John Butchko, who owns an 8-16 record at the helm, is coming off a 22-13 loss against Conneaut in a game that Butchko accepted a penalty that otherwise would have brought up a fourth down and forced Conneaut to punt with three minutes left in the game if he declined.

Instead, Conneaut completed a 38-yard pass from its own 10-yard line on a third-and-22 play and then went on to score a 49-yard touchdown for the eventual 22-13 final.

In 2019, West Geauga defeated Edgewood, 31-6.

TONY’S TAKE: West Geauga wins, 34-14.

Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin at University School

The University School gridders (1-3) will be searching for some more offense when they host the Division III Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin Lions (0-3) at 4:45 p.m. Friday at Scovil Field in Hunting Valley.

The host Preppers are coming off a 34-7 loss against Lake Catholic in a game they mustered just 79 yards – 23 passing and 56 rushing – without 175-pound senior featured back Nick Flowers at their disposal.

Defensively, University couldn’t stop the Cougars for rushing for 332 yards.

Notre Dame, under sixth-year head coach Andrew Mooney, who owns a 35-24 record at the helm, is coming off a 35-21 loss against Padua Franciscan (3-1) in a game that the Lions’ offense leaned heavily upon 5-foot-11 junior quarterback Jacob Koenig.

Koenig finished the night 15-of-34 passing for 180 yards, with 50-plus yards to three different receivers, and he also tucked the pigskin 29 times for 74 yards rushing.

Defensively, NDCL surrendered 420 yards, with Padua 190-pound senior running back Alec Buehner getting 23 carries for 200 yards.

NDCL’s other losses came against a 3-1 Lake Catholic team, 42-35, and Division III AP No. 4-ranked Canfield (4-0) by a 34-7 final.

University and NDCL last played in 2017, when the Lions were the 38-7 victors.

TONY’S TAKE: NDCL wins, 35-14.

Berkshire at Hawken School

The Hawken School gridders (0-1) will face another tough challenge when the Division V Berkshire Badgers (3-1) come to town at 7 p.m. Friday at Walton Stadium in Chester Township.

The host Hawks are coming off a 41-22 loss against rival Gilmour (2-2) in a game they moved the chains 18 times with 413 yards of offense but surrendered 571 yards on defense.

Hawken 6-foot-1 junior quarterback Terrence Robinson was a terror, completing 18-of-29 passes for 197 yards and tucking the pigskin 21 times for 131 yards, while 165-pound senior back Zach Miller had 18 carries for 93 yards.

Yet the Hawks were without 5-foot-4 sophomore Dominic Johnson, who underwent surgery on his finger the day after the game. He was a key piece to Hawken’s success last year, with 572 yards rushing and 234 yards receiving.

Berkshire, under eighth-year head coach Josh DeWeese, who owns a 30-45 record at the helm, is coming off a 42-28 loss against Crestwood (1-3) in a game that the Badgers surrendered too many explosive plays, including 85- and 68-yard touchdowns by Crestwood.

Offensively, Berkshire 5-foot-11 senior quarterback Jacob Brown went off with 16 carries for 175 yards, including 53- and 35-yard touchdowns. The signal-caller also completed 11-of-31 passes for 99 yards.

In 2019, Berkshire beat Hawken, 46-14.

TONY’S TAKE: Hawken wins, 35-34.

John F. Kennedy at Gilmour Academy

The Gilmour Academy gridders (2-2) will have their hands full when they welcome Division VII AP No. 8-ranked Warren John F. Kennedy (3-1) to town at 2 p.m. Saturday at Weber Stadium in Gates Mills.

The host Lancers are coming off a 41-22 victory against rival Hawken School (1-3) in a game they exploded for 78- and 58-yard touchdown runs by sophomore Santino Harper, 73- and 42-yard touchdowns catches by senior tight end Charlie Shepherd and a 75-yard touchdown catch by sophomore Tommy McCrone.

Defensively, Gilmour gave up back-to-back touchdowns in the third quarter to make things a little bit interesting, as Hawken came to play with 197 yards passing and 216 yards rushing.

The JFK Eagles, under seventh-year head coach Jeff Bayuk, who owns a 49-29 record at the helm, are coming off a 27-21 loss against Division V AP No. 11-ranked Garrettsville Garfield (4-0) in a game that was 27-14 at halftime.

Kennedy 6-foot-1, 215-pound senior Cameron Hollobaugh, a first-team all-Ohio linebacker last season, scored a 12-yard touchdown run to bring the Eagles back within a possession, 27-21, with 1:54 to go in the third quarter.

On the ensuing kickoff, JFK recovered a fumble and took over on a 22-yard field but was unable to capitalize.

Hollobaugh is jack-of-all-trades playmaker, passing, rushing and receiving for the Eagles.

In 2019, JFK defeated Gilmour, 35-13.

TONY’S TAKE: Kennedy wins, 38-21.

Kirtland at Solon

For the first time in 72 years, the Solon gridders (0-1) will collide with Kirtland (4-0) when the Division V AP No. 1-ranked Hornets come to town at 7 p.m. Friday at Stewart Field.

Since the Harbin computer points system was adopted by the Ohio High School Athletic Association in 1972, it hasn’t made much sense for Division I teams to play Division V teams – even if they are worthy opponents – because wins against smaller schools don’t pay off as much as wins against bigger schools when it comes to postseason berths.

But with everyone making the playoffs this year, and Solon and Kirtland both having voids for week five, a premier matchup between big-school and small-school playoff perennials is now set.

The host Comets are coming off a 28-7 road loss against Division III AP No. 12-ranked St. Vincent-St. Mary (3-1) in a game that Solon struck first on a 22-yard touchdown toss from senior Pat McQuaide to 5-foot-9 sophomore receiver Joel Kpassou with 4:31 to go in the first quarter.

Solon’s offense wouldn’t score again, as the Comets finished with 186 yards and 10 first downs. Comet 205-pound senior running back Khalil Eichelberger had 14 carries for 91 yards.

Defensively, Solon surrendered 332 yards rushing, but a big chunk of those came on an 81-yard touchdown by Irish senior running back Josh Nickerson in the fourth quarter.

Kirtland, under 15th-year head coach Tiger LaVerde, who owns a 174-17 record at the helm, including a 34-game win streak, is coming off a 58-0 win against an 0-4 Grand Valley team.

Perhaps a better indicator of the Hornets’ talent is a 35-10 victory against Division I Shaker Heights (1-2) on Sept. 5, when Kirtland rushed for 271 yards behind 6-foot, 200-pound fullback Mason Sullivan, who had 16 carries for 149 yards that game.

On the offensive front, Kirtland averages 215 pounds, but the Hornets continue to get it done with their simple run game.

In 1948, Solon beat Kirtland, 31-0.

TONY’S TAKE: Solon wins, 28-27.

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