After seven seasons without a shutout victory, the University School gridders (3-2) posted their second such triumph during a 35-0 road romping against Division IV Cleveland Central Catholic (0-5) on Saturday afternoon at Stefanski Stadium.
University 5-foot-8 senior cornerback Cam Gable collected two interceptions with five tackles, while 5-foot-10 senior safety Max Young also had an interception with two tackles and 165-pound junior linebacker Jack Novak had a team-high six tackles to spearhead the blanking.
The host Ironmen finished with just 115 yards and three first downs on 44 plays, including 24 yards rushing on 21 carries.
“I thought our defense played very good football, and I was really proud,” US fifth-year head coach Ben Malbasa said. “We had our second shutout, which is a nice thing. And they did have some fast receivers, and I thought our guys did a great job of rallying to the football and making some real plays on the football. So, on that front, I thought it was a really good defensive effort.”
While Central Catholic’s offense has struggled this season, its kickoff return team has produced some points. But the Preppers kept that in check too.
On offense, University 165-pound junior running back Chris Smith, who had 11 carries for 44 yards, scored on a 2-yard rush for a 7-0 lead at the quarter mark, with sophomore kicker Evan Weybrecht’s extra point.
Prepper 175-pound junior running back Nick Flowers then scored 3- and 2-yard touchdown runs in the second quarter and provided a two-point conversion for a 22-0 upper hand at intermission. Flowers had nine carries for 34 yards.
“We moved the ball pretty well,” Malbasa said. “We did have one long drive where we made a couple mistakes, but we bounced back from them, and that’s always a good sign. We were resilient on offense. But, most importantly, I thought, hey, we played a pretty clean football game. When you don’t turn the ball over and when you cause turnovers, you put your team in a really good situation, and we did.”
The Preppers had six penalties for 56 yards, while Central Catholic had 13 penalties for 153 yards – 38 more yards than its offense produced all game.
In the third quarter, 6-foot-6 junior quarterback Ricky Radtke dialed up a 57-yard touchdown to senior slot receiver Nic Pujolas, who caught up to the pass to haul it in with his fingertips for a 28-0 lead. Radtke finished five-of-10 passing for 103 yards.
“It was a little wheel route, and he got out and pulled it in and made a great catch and ran away from everybody,” Malbasa said. “He had to reel it in a little bit. And certain players you have a lot of trust in. For four seasons now, Pujolas has a knack for being in the right spot at the right time. He always pulls it in.
“And there’s a reason he returns kicks for us. I mean, to me, when you return punts, that’s the ultimate trust position on a team, because that’s a really hard job with people in your face, and you’ve got to believe that guy is going to secure possession of the ball.”
In the fourth quarter, US 6-foot-2 junior AJ Battle, who is new to football this season, blocked a Central Catholic punt that set up 165-pound senior Dylan Loconti’s 28-yard touchdown run for the 35-0 final. Loconti finished with five carries for 47 yards and one catch for 21 yards.
Overall, University amassed 280 yards, including 155 yards on 36 rushes.
Up next, the Preppers will travel to take on Gilmour Academy (3-2) at 3 p.m. Saturday at Weber Stadium in Gates Mills.
Gilmour Academy 41
John Adams 6
Behind two interceptions and two blocked punts by 6-foot-2, 170-pound senior Aidan Muchnicki, Gilmour Academy (3-2) knocked the wine and gold off Division II John Adams (1-4) in a 41-6 home rout Saturday afternoon at Weber Stadium.
Both of Muchnicki’s blocked punts led to first-quarter touchdowns for the host Lancers’ 21-0 upper hand in the opening frame, with the former block coming at the Rebel 19 and the latter getting recovered by Gilmour senior Marco Costabile.
Capitalizing on those blocks, Gilmour 6-foot-4 senior tight end Kevan Pack hauled in a 19-yard touchdown toss over the middle by 6-foot-2 sophomore quarterback Thomas Richardson for a 14-0 lead with 4:43 left in the quarter, and then Richardson found the end zone on a 2-yard keeper for the 21-0 upper hand with 3:51 to go.
“Their snap to kick wasn’t too quick, so we just figured we would at least try,” Gilmour fifth-year head coach Chris Kosiorek said of the blocked punts. “And then Aidan’s got great instincts, and he’s quick to the ball, and he was fortunate enough to get through and get his hand on both of them, which was good, because it helped us.”
Also scoring in the opening frame, 170-pound freshman running back Santino Harper broke ankles on a 5-yard touchdown run four minutes into play for the 7-0 lead after senior Connor Krebs’ extra point. Harper would finish the afternoon with 17 carries for 111 yards.
Neither team found the end zone in the second quarter, and then John Adams scored its lone touchdown on 6-foot senior Johnny Cullins’ 65-yard run to open the third quarter to cut its deficit, 21-6.
“It was a third-down play, and he got loose,” Kosiorek said. “He was their best athlete, and it wasn’t a good performance defensively for us, because I thought we had him trapped, but he just outran our guys. It was a legit run, but we have some stuff we have to fix up.”
Gilmour’s Krebs sprung loose on a cut to the outside for a 26-yard touchdown to answer midway through the third quarter for a 28-6 upper hand, and then Richardson dialed up 6-foot-2 senior receiver Nate Reichard on a 10-yard touchdown toss for a 34-6 upper hand later in the frame. Reichard finished with five catches for 68 yards.
Harper polished off the victory with another 5-yard score in the fourth quarter for the 41-6 final.
The Lancers finished with 249 yards, including 162 yards rushing on 27 carries.
“I thought we had control the whole game,” Kosiorek said. “I mean, John Adams, they’ve got some nice kids, but I think we overmatched them. So, the end goal is to get the win. We got out of there healthy, and now we’re going to have to prepare for US.”
After falling behind 14-0 at the quarter mark, Hawken School (1-4, 0-2) fought its way back during a home battle against the Division VI Cardinal Huskies (2-3, 1-1) in a Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division shootout on Friday night at Walton Stadium.
Hawken 170-pound junior running back Zach Miller scored on a 7-yard rush to cut the deficit in half with 10:14 to go in the half, 5-foot-11 sophomore quarterback Terrence Robinson dialed up 5-foot-10 junior receiver Cooper Jared on a 5-yard touchdown toss, and then Robinson scored on a 2-yard keeper to trim the deficit, 21-20, with 41 seconds left in the half.
But the visiting Huskies would score the next three touchdowns, including a 54-yard toss from 6-foot-2 junior quarterback Joey Soltis to 5-foot-11 senior receiver Mike Lucaraelli seven seconds before the break, en route to an eventual 48-34 victory for Cardinal.
The Huskies took a 41-20 lead by the end of the third quarter, before Hawken could stop the bleeding.
Miller found the end zone again, on a 54-yard toss from Robinson, to cut the Hawks’ deficit, 41-26 with 11:50 to play, and Miller scored once more on a 5-yard carry with 1:14 remaining for the eventual final.
Miller led the Hawks with 20 carries for 77 yards, seven catches for 108 yards and eight tackles on defense, while signal-caller Robinson was 16-of-19 passing for 196 yards to go with his eight carries for 34 yards.
Overall, Cardinal outgained Hawken, 486 yards to 307 yards, with 27 first downs to the Hawks’ 15. Neither team committed a turnover.
Also stuffing the stat sheet for Hawken, Cooper finished with six catches for 47 yards; 5-foot-11 senior defensive back Kenan Tabachnik had a team-high 14 tackles; 135-pound senior linebacker Jackson Reineke had 10 tackles; 195-pound junior linebacker Zach Reitman had nine tackles; and 275-pound senior lineman Will Lindsey had seven tackles, including two for losses.
Up next, Hawken will hit the road to take on the Division V Grand Valley Mustangs (0-5) at 7 p.m. Friday in Orwell in Ashtabula County.