The newcomers to the Chagrin Valley Conference were given a whacking when West Geauga (1-3) blanked winless Lakeside, 45-0, and when Division IV AP No. 2-ranked Perry (4-0) showed no mercy against Edgewood (2-2), 56-6, during league openers Friday.
Another rout in the Chagrin Division, Chagrin Falls (2-2) unearthed its offense for 412 yards during a road victory, 45-6, against Painesville Harvey (1-3).
And while Orange (1-3) hung with Geneva (3-1) for a half, the Lion gridders stalled out during a 51-27 road loss at the Spire Institute.
West Geauga 45
The Division IV West Geauga boys knew they were better than their record after going through a murder’s row of non-league foes, and the Wolverines took out their differences against Division II Lakeside, 45-0, on Friday night at their home Howell Field.
Delivering the old one-two to the Dragons, West Geauga put together its most decisive victory since a 55-0 rout against Wickliffe in 2015, when the Wolverines finished 10-2 during their first road playoff victory campaign.
Behind three touchdowns from junior running back Trae Zimmermann, West Geauga built a 35-0 lead by intermission to enact a running clock for the entirety of the second half against Lakeside.
“Well, we were hoping to,” West G second-year head coach Adam Sopkovich said about dominating both sides of the pigskin. “I mean, we had a great week of practice, a great week of preparation. So, I attribute it to their work ethic. I believe we can go out and play like that week in and week out, but it was good to finally see them play the way that we coach them to do.”
West Geauga made good use of a 42-yard field to open the game, after recovering Lakeside’s onside kick attempt. Senior running back Joe Peterson punched in a 5-yard carry, with sophomore Joe DiLalla providing the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
It was the Zimmermann show from there, as the 175-pound back scored on a 3-yard run, a 1-yard run and a 46-yard reception from 6-foot-4 senior quarterback Riley Huge to help pave way for that five-touchdown lead at the break.
Zimmermann, who missed school on Wednesday and Thursday with a 102-degree fever, would finish the night with 22 carries for 135 yards and two catches for 47 yards.
“We talk about the rhythm of our offense is our run game, and Trae’s doing an unbelievable job,” coach Sopkovich said of Zimmermann. “And he was pretty sick this week. So, that gave us a lot of hope that Trae would come out and do something like that, and the guys just rallied around him.”
Overall, West Geauga outgained Lakeside, 327 yards to 103 yards.
Although the rhythm of West G’s offense is its run game, the Wolverines’ receivers have got to be the reasoning with fewer drops and better routes, Sopkovich said. That was the case against Lakeside with 6-foot-1 sophomore Torry Stazzone collecting a 5-yard touchdown pass from Huge in the second quarter.
In addition to Stazzone’s two catches for 31 yards, sophomore slot Michael Cavasinni had two catches for 33 yards and 6-foot junior Luke Musser had two catches for 14 yards. Huge finished nine-of-19 passing for 154 yards with no picks.
“Right now, our defense is causing two to three turnovers a game,” Sopkovich said. “We have to capitalize on those, and last night we were capitalizing on the mistakes of the other team and actually doing what we needed to do.”
Defensively, West Geauga 180-pound senior linebacker Josh Moriarty collected a team-high 10 tackles, a sack, a fumble recovery and a 42-yard pick-six for a 42-0 upper hand with 11:11 to play. Meanwhile, Stazzone also collected an interception, and junior Dante Mirabelli got his first start at safety and forced a fumble.
The Dragons had just 1-yard of offense to show for in the first half.
“We pretty much put the clamps on them,” Sopkovich said. “I was not afraid to put my defense out there at any time, not because of the opponent but because of who we were. Josh Moriarty was all over the field. Lou Alesnik, another one of our linebackers, just wreaked havoc in their backfield. It was kind of like a coming to grips of who these guys really are.
“And I was telling my defensive coordinator that, ‘Hey, you can dial up what you want to right now because these guys are in the zone.’ It was a sight to see.”
DiLalla connected on a 37-yard field goal with 5:20 remaining for the eventual 45-0 final.
Chagrin Falls 45
Behind a triple-threat rushing attack, Division IV Chagrin Falls put a 45-6 hurting on Division III Harvey for the Tigers’ best start (2-2) since a 9-3 playoff campaign in 2013.
In his second week back from injury, 180-pound senior running back Will O’Brien had 16 carries for 115 yards with a touchdown, 165-pound junior back Xavier Perez had four carries for 93 yards with two touchdowns, and 225-pound junior quarterback Dawson Pierce finished with 10 carries for 82 yards and two touchdowns.
Overall, 366 of Chagrin’s 412 yards came by ground.
“We ran the ball very well, which it’s been a work in progress these first couple of weeks, and I thought we did a good job on the line of scrimmage,” Chagrin 25th-year head coach Mark Iammarino said. “Our offensive line did a nice job, and our running backs, Will O’Brien, Xavier Perez and even Dawson Pierce, all were close to 100 yards rushing. So, that was a very encouraging thing for us.”
The Tigers had scored just 23 points through three games before nearly doubling that production against Harvey.
In addition to that trio of rushers, junior Cam O’Connor had four carries for 36 yards, while 5-foot-7 senior receiver Will Richmond scored a 12-yard touchdown run for a 35-6 upper hand just 18 seconds into the third quarter. That end-zone find came on the heels of a 45-yard rush by O’Brien.
Chagrin 6-foot-4, 200-pound sophomore kicker Andrew Kirkpatrick went on to enact a running clock with a 34-yard field goal later in the third quarter.
“Andrew had an injury towards the latter part of the summer that prevented him from kicking in the first couple of games, and so he’s back healthy, and I thought he did an outstanding job,” Iammarino said. “He’s a big sophomore kid with a big-time leg, and it’ll be exciting to continue to watch his development.”
Defensively, Chagrin surrendered one touchdown for the second consecutive week.
Senior defensive back Cam Owen had a team-high eight tackles; senior linebacker Adam Melham had seven tackles with a fumble recovery; linebacker O’Brien collected an interception; senior linebacker Drew Zimmer had four tackles, a forced fumble and five quarterback hurries; and senior defensive back Adam Munday had three tackles and three pass break-ups.
“These last two weeks have shown our players are playing faster, they’re handling what offenses can give to them in a better fashion and preventing the big play,” Iammarino said. “We had another goal-line stand, which is two games in a row.
“So, I’m really happy with the defense. When your defense is playing well, you always have a chance to be in the game regardless of how well your offense plays, and that’s an exciting thing for us.”
Orange executed a good run game to keep it close in the first half, but Geneva had a better run game during a 51-27 victory in the Eagles’ favor on Friday night at the Spire Institute in Ashtabula County.
The visiting Lions struck first on senior slotback Marvin Davies’ 56-yard touchdown run 3 1/2 minutes into the game, and senior running back Diante White scored on a 25-yard rush for a 14-6 upper hand with 9:00 left in the half.
After Geneva scored back-to-back touchdowns with a pair of two-point conversions to take a 22-14 lead, Orange junior Greg Beard answered back on a 75-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to trim the Lions’ deficit, 22-21, with just five minutes to go in the half.
But the Eagles would go on to punch one more in the end zone for a 30-21 lead at intermission, before going on to outscore Orange, 22-6, in the second half.
Orange’s White finished with 18 carries for 125 yards, and Davies had three carries for 75 yards, as well as two catches for 20 yards, to bolster the Lions’ offense to 261 yards for the night.
But Geneva did it better with 405 yards rushing, including 233 yards in the second half, along with 65 yards passing.
The Eagles had a trio of rushers break the century mark, including 190-pound senior halfback Blake Peet’s 13 carries for 109 yards, 240-pound junior fullback Charlie Taylor’s nine carries for 110 yards and 190-pound senior halfback Vinny Varckette’s eight carries for 102 yards.