GAME OF THE WEEK
Kenston at Chagrin
7 p.m. Friday
In what’s been one of the best rivalries in Northeast Ohio football, the Division III Kenston Bombers (1-0) will hit the road to take on the Division IV Chagrin Falls Tigers (0-1) in a battle of Old Route 422 at 7 p.m. Friday at C.S. Harris Stadium.
The visiting Bomber gridders are coming off a 44-14 spanking of Streetsboro in a game junior quarterback Jon Tomcufcik, 180 yards passing, and junior running back Jack Porter, 133 yards rushing, got back in business for their second season as varsity starters, while junior receiver Jay Middleton was the new kid in town with three catches for 77 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, Kenston surrendered 148 yards rushing and 129 yards passing, but they buckled down to stop Streetsboro from moving the sticks on nine of 11 third-down plays. Not to mention, Kenston had zero turnovers and 46 penalty yards to the Rockets’ 102 penalty yards
Chagrin Falls, meanwhile, is coming off a 43-0 loss against a Division VI Kirtland team that could probably run the table in a highly competitive conference like the Western Reserve. That said, neither the Bombers nor Tigers should pay any attention to that score for this week’s rivalry game.
In his first varsity start, Chagrin Falls senior quarterback Sean Cusack was eight-of-15 passing for 86 yards, with sophomore Xavier Perez as his favorite target on five receptions for 35 yards, while all-Ohio senior Mick Lawrence had 10 carries for 67 yards.
Defensively, the Tigers surrendered 385 yards, 314 of which were rushing against the Hornets’ powerful ground attack.
In 60 previous meetings between Kenston and Chagrin Falls, the Tigers hold a 33-27 series advantage, but the Bombers were victorious last season, 32-24.
TONY’S TAKE: Kenston wins, 34-21.
Twinsburg at Solon
After taking care of business on the road, the Solon gridders will host the Division II Twinsburg Tigers (1-0) in a border-town rivalry at 7 p.m. Friday at Stewart Field.
The host Comets are coming off a 25-0 victory against Aurora in a game that their defense was pulverizing, surrendering just 87 yards and six first downs – the Greenmen didn’t move the chains until the end of the third quarter.
On offense, sophomore running back Khalil Eichelberger was a conversation starter for Solon fans, carrying the pigskin 25 times for 138 yards and three touchdowns, not to mention two catches for 63 yards. His 195-pound frame was bone-crushing with yards after contact, making him a thrill to watch.
The main weakness for Solon came in the form of nine penalties for 93 yards.
Twinsburg, under fourth-year head coach Mike Bell, is coming off a 49-28 victory against Division II Copley in a game Tiger third-year senior quarterback Adam Van de Motter completed 17 of 27 passes for 409 yards and five touchdowns. The signal-caller also rushed for 92 yards on nine carries.
His top targets were 5-foot-6 junior Dominick Glenn, who had five catches for 163 yards, 5-foot-9 senior Jameel Banks, who had three catches for 124 yards, and 6-foot-2 senior James Besett, who had seven catches for 113 yards.
Defensively, Twinsburg surrendered 275 yards passing for four touchdowns.
The Tigers’ victory came despite coughing up four fumbles in the first half – two by receivers, one by Van de Motter and another by sophomore back Marvahun Johnson.
In 57 gridiron meetings between Solon and Twinsburg, the Comets hold a 46-8-3 series advantage with five consecutive victories, including a 26-21 triumph in 2017.
TONY’S TAKE: Solon wins, 31-21.
Orange at Streetsboro
The Orange gridders (1-0) got away with some plays that weren’t as fundamentally sound as they needed to be last week, but they’ll have to clean that up when they travel to take on the Streetsboro Rockets (0-1) at 7 p.m. Friday at Quinn Field. Both teams are Division IV contenders.
The visiting Lions are coming off 28-7 home victory against Cleveland John Hay in a game they leaned on dual-threat senior quarterback Sean Borgman’s 154 yards passing and 112 yards rushing. Along with junior running back Luca Garofoli and receivers Marvin Davies and Armon Frey, the Lions had no problem moving the pigskin with 407 yards of offense.
Defensively, Orange held John Hay’s quarterback and top rusher to less than 100 yards apiece.
Streetsboro, under second-year head coach Pete Thompson, is coming off a 44-14 loss against Kenston in a game the Rockets had 277 yards of offense but 102 yards of penalties. Sophomore quarterback Colin Boldin was six-of-11 passing for 129 yards in the Rockets’ spread-option offense, highlighted by a 46-yard touchdown reception by senior tight end Hank Carey.
Defensively, the Rockets gave up three fourth-down conversions on four attempts against Kenston’s balanced offense.
Orange and Streetsboro are new opponents this fall, but the last time the Lions squared off against coach Thompson was when he was at the helm of the Kenston program in 2011. The Bombers won the game, 47-0.
TONY’S TAKE: Orange wins, 28-24.
West Geauga at Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin
The West Geauga boys (1-0) made out with a win last week, but they have a tougher test ahead when they hit the road to take on Division III Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin (1-0) at 7 p.m. Friday at Lion Stadium in Munson Township.
Under new head coach Adam Sopkovich, the visiting Wolverines are coming off a rivalry victory, 20-19, against Chardon in a game they overcame a 19-0 deficit, despite getting outgained by more than 100 yards.
West Geauga’s victory was highlighted by a 99-yard kickoff return by sophomore speedster Nick Henry and a pair of field goals, from 35 and 31 yards, by freshman Joe DiLalla.
Wolverine sophomore quarterback Riley Huge completed six of 16 passes for 56 yards in his varsity debut, while senior captain Gino Fornaro had 16 carries for 67 yards and two catches for 34 yards.
Breakdowns for West G included the surrender of a 94-yard touchdown reception and a 57-yard punt return for a touchdown. But three Chardon fumbles in the final 12 minutes of the game helped the Wolverines lock up the victory, not to mention a fourth-and-two conversion by Fornaro.
NDCL, under fourth-year head coach Andrew Mooney, is coming off a 41-28 victory against Willoughby South in a game that the triumphant Lions outgained the Rebels, 504 yards to 370 yards, behind the dual-threat performance of senior quarterback Nick Gattozzi, who completed 15 of 19 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
Three of NDCL’s touchdowns came on breakout plays, including a 51-yard reception by senior Alec Roberts, an 80-yard run by Gattozzi and an 81-yard reception by junior David Martin-Kosier, who handles the Lions’ kicking duties.
Defensively, NDCL surrendered 278 yards passing and 98 yards rushing. Lion 210-pound senior linebacker Zach Urda had 13 tackles and an interception.
In 2017, NDCL defeated West Geauga, 13-12, in double overtime.
TONY’S TAKE: NDCL wins, 34-20.
University School at Bay
In a matchup between returning Division III, Region 10 playoff contenders, the University School gridders (0-1) will travel to take on the Bay Rockets (1-0) at 7 p.m. Friday at Memorial Stadium in Bay Village.
The visiting Preppers are coming off a 30-19 loss against Division V Warrensville Heights in a game they had fits passing the football with just 32 yards through the air among three players attempting passes.
US 6-foot-3 senior Jake Kapp, who was a standout receiver last year with 22 catches for 383 yards, had the most success at quarterback last week, completing five of eight passes for 18 yards to go along with 17 carries for 43 yards, while junior Dylan Loconti had 12 carries for 77 yards.
Defensively, the Preppers gave up 162 yards rushing and 125 yards passing, with two of Warrensville’s touchdowns coming on 37- and 35-yard receptions, but a 51-yard Tiger fumble return for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter is what did US in.
Bay, under fifth-year head coach Ron Rutt, is coming off a 27-6 victory against Division IV LaGrange Keystone in a game that the triumphant Rockets leaned on their multi-faceted ground attack, notably 12 carries for 112 yards from 170-pound senior halfback Andrew Veverka. Bay junior quarterback Logan LaMere completed six of 13 passes for 48 yards.
Defensively, the Rockets surrendered 163 yards rushing and 90 yards passing. Bay senior Keegan Kevesdy had a 38-yard interception return for a touchdown.
In 2017, Bay defeated University, 42-28.
TONY’S TAKE: Bay wins, 20-14.
Hawken School at Lutheran West
The Hawken School gridders (0-1) will be packing their steak knives when they hit the road to take on the Division IV Lutheran West Longhorns (1-0) at 7 p.m. Friday at Alumni Field in Rocky River.
Under first-year head coach Brian Stephenson, the visiting Hawks are coming off a 41-12 loss against Garfield Heights Trinity in a game that they ran 28 more plays than the Trojans, thanks to winning the turnover battle, 5-2, but weren’t able to finish drives for points on those extra possessions.
Offensively, Hawken gained 293 yards with 16 first downs, led by senior quarterback John Byrne’s 105 yards passing and 35 yards rushing and senior Nate Bryan’s 116 yards rushing on 15 carries, while senior Jake Reitman and sophomores Daniel Byrne and Cooper Jared had two catches apiece.
Defensively, the Hawks surrendered 126 yards rushing and 189 yards passing.
Lutheran West, under fifth-year head coach Frank Petroff, is coming off a 47-13 victory against Division VI New London in a game the Longhorns scored 40 points in the first quarter before letting off the gas pedal.
The Longhorns gained 230 of their 269 yards on the ground, led by senior playmaker Gerald McHenry and senior back Parker Watson.
Defensively, the Longhorns surrendered 154 yards rushing and 31 yards passing.
In 2017, Lutheran West edged Hawken, 28-26.
TONY’S TAKE: Lutheran West wins, 35-24.
Gilmour Academy at Warrensville Heights
In a meeting between Division V, Region 17 playoff hopefuls, the Gilmour Academy gridders (1-0) will hit the road to take on Warrensville Heights (1-0) at 7 p.m. Friday at Tiger Stadium.
The vising Lancers are coming off a 43-8 victory against a Division III Cleveland East Technical team that fielded only 14 players in a game that Gilmour scored 34 of its points on just eight offensive plays in the first quarter.
Gilmour senior playmaker CJ Charleston had four carries for 119 yards and three touchdowns, but his speed and athleticism will no doubt face an equally speedy and athletic defense in this week’s matchup.
On defense, Gilmour’s first- and second-string players held East Tech to zero yards in the first half, and that effort came without all-Ohio senior linebacker Jack Kosar, who is nursing his way back to health.
Warrensville Heights, under fifth-year head coach Desean Washington, is coming off a 30-19 victory against Division III University School in a game that the Tigers had 162 yards rushing and 125 yards passing with overwhelming talent in their skill positions, including two quarterbacks and three key playmakers, notably junior back Jerome Lee and junior receiver Nicholas McGee.
On defense, the Tigers reacted well, swarmed to the football and played to the whistle in an effort that held US to 147 yards rushing and 32 yards passing.
The last time Gilmour and Warrensville Heights met on the gridiron was in 2008, when the Lancers put on a 41-6 rout.
TONY’S TAKE: Warrensville wins, 30-21.