Game of the week: Willoughby South at Kenston
7 p.m. Friday
It’s time for the Kenston gridders (5-0, 2-0) to put on their big-boy pants when Division II Willoughby South (4-1, 2-0) comes looking for trouble in a Western Reserve Conference showdown at 7 p.m. Friday in Bainbridge Township.
The visiting Rebels own a 4-2 series advantage against Kenston, but the Bombers have a two-game streak against South, including a 38-8 win in 2017 and a 40-25 win in 2018.
Kenston is coming off a 50-12 thumping of Brush (0-5) in a game that senior slotback Tyler Mintz had a program mark 14 catches, which produced 231 yards and two touchdowns to motor 520 yards of offense for the Bombers.
Perhaps most noteworthy, Kenston had zero turnovers and just two penalties for 15 yards.
South, under 16th-year head coach Matt Duffy, who owns a 109-65 record at the helm, is coming off a 10-7 victory against archrival Eastlake North (2-3, 0-2) in a game that the Rebels led, 10-0, at halftime thanks to a 57-yard touchdown toss from senior quarterback Justin Grosel to Eastern Michigan commit Rico Small in the second quarter.
Grosel was nine-of-16 for 123 yards, but South did the majority of its damage with 210 yards rushing, including Grosel’s 11 carries for 86 yards.
Defensively, South held North’s wing-T to 156 yards rushing and 55 yards passing with the Rangers’ lone score coming on a 15-yard run to open the third quarter. South forced two North turnovers in the fourth quarter to preserve the win.
The previous week, Kenston defeated North, 45-7.
If the Bombers can take care of the pigskin and contain Grosel and Small, then they’ll be in business for a victory.
TONY’S TAKE: Kenston wins, 34-21.
Mentor at Solon
The Solon gridders (4-1, 2-0) will have the pleasure of hosting the AP No. 1-ranked team in Ohio when Greater Cleveland Conference rival Mentor (5-0, 2-0) comes to Stewart Field at 7 p.m. Friday.
The visiting Cardinals own a 13-12 series advantage against Solon, but the Comets spoiled Mentor’s perfect regular season during a 29-28 overtime victory last year. Solon has won three of its past four meetings against Mentor, with the exception of a 38-34 loss in 2017.
Most recently, Solon is coming off a 31-14 win against Shaker Heights (1-4, 0-2) in a game that the Comets were without starting junior quarterback Pat McQuaide, who is week-to-week with an injury, but sophomore signal-caller Andrew Mulvaney was 10-of-13 passing for 183 yards with a 50-yard screen pass to junior Khalil Eichelberger and an 80-yard touchdown toss to senior Greg Parries.
Also in that game, Solon senior defensive back Caleb Sinclair was a turnover machine with one interception and three fumble recoveries on special teams.
Mentor, under 23rd-year head coach Steve Trivisonno, who owns a 201-69 record in his final season at the helm, opened its campaign with a 29-28 win against AP No. 3-ranked St. Edward (4-1) and a 38-21 victory against No. 15-ranked St. Ignatius (2-3).
Most recently, the Cardinals are coming off a 63-7 rout against Medina (3-2) in a game they rushed for 420 yards and passed for 101 yards. In the run game, 175-pound senior Brian Trobel had 18 carries for 184 yards, 205-pound junior Riley Coughlin had 17 carries for 106 yards, and 6-foot-2, 210-pound junior quarterback Ian Kipp had 11 carries for 89 yards.
Defensively, Mentor surrendered 25 yards rushing and 158 yards passing.
TONY’S TAKE: Mentor wins, 42-31.
Edgewood at Chagrin Falls
Chagrin Falls (3-2, 2-0) will be chasing its fourth straight victory when the Tigers host new Chagrin Valley Conference foe Edgewood (2-3, 0-2), of Ashtabula, at 7 p.m. Friday at C.S. Harris Stadium.
The Tigers are riding three straight weeks of shutdown defense and two weeks of potent offense, most recently with a 45-14 triumph against Lakeside (0-5) in a game that Chagrin 6-foot-2, 225-pound junior quarterback Dawson Pierce was 14-of-17 passing for 165 yards with two touchdowns, as well as two end-zone finds on keepers.
While Lakeside outgained Chagrin, 275 yards to 258 yards, the Tigers had a three-phase victory that provided its offense short-field situations all game, notably through sophomore Andrew Kirkpatrick’s kicking and senior Lucas Gaizutis’ long interception return.
The Division III Edgewood Warriors, under second-year head coach Jon Butchko, who owns a 5-10 record at the helm, is coming off back-to-back losses against Division IV AP No. 2-ranked Perry (5-0), 56-6, and against Geneva (4-1, 2-0), 55-12, which are arguably the two best teams in the CVC this year.
In the loss to Geneva last week, Edgewood surrendered 418 yards rushing against the Eagles’ three-pronged ground attack.
Offensively, Edgewood 6-foot sophomore quarterback Zach Winchell completed 14 of 33 passes for 139 yards with a variety of receivers at his disposal, including 6-foot sophomore Izaiah Harris, 5-foot-10 senior Ethan Colbert and 5-foot-11 junior running back Brian Bisbey.
When Chagrin hosts Edgewood on Friday, it’ll be just the second home game for the Tigers so far this season.
TONY’S TAKE: Chagrin wins, 28-20.
Perry at Orange
The Orange gridders (1-4, 0-2) had better get their ducks in a row when the Division IV AP No. 2-ranked Perry Pirates (5-0) show up for a Chagrin Valley Conference affair at 7 p.m. Friday at Lewis Black Stadium in Pepper Pike.
Even when Orange went to the playoffs during an 8-3 campaign in 2017 and a 7-4 campaign in 2018, Perry was a juggernaut that the Lions couldn’t quite keep up against.
Entering this week’s game, Orange is coming off a 25-13 loss against West Geauga (2-3, 2-0) in a game the Lions trailed, 25-0, at halftime, before getting their run game in order to score two touchdowns in the final three minutes.
After rushing for just 29 yards in the first half, Orange senior running back Diante White finished the game with 24 carries for 139 yards, while junior quarterback Zak Basharat was nine-of-17 passing for 98 yards.
Defensively, Orange’s tackling effort against West Geauga 175-pound junior Trae Zimmermann was dismal. Orange surrendered 35-, 57- and 66-yard touchdowns to Zimmermann, all of which included broken tackles.
Perry, under 13th-year head coach Matt Rosati, who owns a 99-41 record at the helm, had marquee non-conference wins against Division II Riverside, 63-54, Division III Chardon, 31-23, and Division II Madison, 63-35, before walloping CVC foes Edgewood, 56-6, and Harvey, 42-8.
Against Harvey, Perry 6-foot senior quarterback Drew Schiano completed 14 of 20 passes for 393 yards with four touchdowns to three different receivers: 5-foot-7 senior Anthony Rosati had four catches for 101 yards, 6-foot-3 senior Devon Holbert had three catches for 115 yards, and 6-foot, 210-pound junior Jaylen Anderson had four catches for 86 yards. Anderson is also a bruising rusher when the Pirates need to ground and pound.
Bottom line is that Orange had better step up its tackling game or the Lions are in for a steamrolling.
TONY’S TAKE: Perry wins, 42-14.
West Geauga at Geneva
West Geauga (2-3, 2-0) will need its best performance so far this season to come away with a road victory against the Division III Geneva Eagles (4-1, 2-0) in a Chagrin Valley Conference clash at 7 p.m. Friday at the Spire Institute in Ashtabula County.
The host Wolverines are riding a two-game win streak, including a 25-13 victory against Orange (1-4, 0-2) last week. West G 175-pound junior running back Trae Zimmermann was unstoppable with 142 yards rushing and 92 yards receiving in that triumph, but the Wolverines faded off after building a 25-0 lead at intermission.
Defensively, West G held Orange to 99 yards passing and 182 yards rushing but couldn’t get off the field because of penalties late in the game.
Geneva, under fifth-year head coach Chip Sorber, who owns a 16-28 record at the helm, is off to its best start since an 8-2 campaign in 2009. The Eagles’ lone loss this year was a 30-0 blanking from Division V AP No. 1-ranked Kirtland (5-0).
Since then, Geneva ran away from Orange, 51-27, and pummeled Edgewood, 55-12. The Eagles showcased a trio of 100-plus yard rushers in both victories.
Against Edgewood, Geneva 190-pound senior halfback Blake Peet ran for 149 yards, 190-pound senior halfback Vinny Varckette rushed for 145 yards, and 6-foot-2, 240-pound junior fullback Charlie Taylor bulldozed his way to 115 yards. Overall, the Eagles had 418 yards rushing.
Defensively, Geneva held Edgewood to 14-of-33 passing for 139 yards.
In 2018, West Geauga beat Geneva, 16-8.
TONY’S TAKE: West G pulls off an upset, 30-28.
University School at Gilmour Academy
Other than bragging right, a host of computer points will be on the line when Division V Gilmour Academy (3-2) hosts Division III University School (3-2) at 3 p.m. Saturday at Weber Stadium in Gates Mills.
The visiting Preppers, under fifth-year head coach Ben Malbasa, who owns a 29-19 record at the helm, are coming off a 35-0 triumph against Cleveland Central Catholic (0-5) in a game they surrendered just 115 yards.
Defensively, University junior linebacker Jack Novak is coming into his own this season, while senior cornerback Cam Gable had two interceptions last week and senior safety Max Young collected another.
Offensively, the Preppers have two junior quarterbacks in their second year of varsity football, a stable of three solid running backs and a four-year starter in Nic Pujolas at receiver.
Gilmour, under fifth-year head coach Chris Kosiorek, who owns a 28-20 record at the helm, is coming off a 41-6 victory against Cleveland John Adams (1-4) in a game senior defensive back Aidan Muchnicki won’t soon forget. The Lancer standout blocked two punts and collected two interceptions to provide his offense good field position most of the game.
The Lancers have some young guns in their offense, like freshman running back Santino Harper, who had 17 carries for 111 yards last week, and sophomore quarterback Thomas Richardson, who completed six of 15 tosses for 87 yards. But veterans like senior running back Connor Krebs and senior receiver Nate Reichard add stability.
University and Gilmour last locked horns on the gridiron in 2017, when the Preppers came away the 28-6 victors.
TONY’S TAKE: University wins, 27-20.
Hawken School at Grand Valley
Hawken School (1-4, 0-2) will be poised to pick up its second victory when the Hawks travel to take on the Division V Grand Valley Mustangs (0-5) in a Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division game at 7 p.m. Friday in Orwell in Ashtabula County.
The Hawks are coming off a 48-34 loss against Cardinal (2-3, 1-1) in a game that sophomore quarterback Terrence Robinson’s efficiency showed in 16-of-19 passing for 196 yards, while junior running back Zach Miller had a do-it-all night with 77 yards rushing, 108 yards receiving and eight tackles.
But Hawken surrendered 486 yards and had no answer against Cardinal’s run game of 369 yards on 55 plays.
Grand Valley, under first-year head coach Clinton Nims, has struggled on both sides of the pigskin this year, most recently in a 55-7 loss against Berkshire (4-1, 2-0).
Offensively, Grand Valley 130-pound junior running back Trevor Meeker had 17 carries for 101 yards against Berkshire, while 6-foot-2, 195-pound senior quarterback Gordon Seger was six-of-20 passing for 83 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Defensively, Grand Valley surrendered 396 yards against Berkshire’s balanced attack.
Hawken and Grand Valley last met on the gridiron in 2008, when the Hawks came away the 49-14 victors.
TONY’S TAKE: Hawken wins, 34-26.
(Editor’s note: Tony Lange went 7-0 last week and is 31-5 overall.)