Game of the week: Orange at Chagrin Falls
7 p.m. Friday
The road team has won the last four meetings, but that could change when Chagrin Falls (4-3, 3-1) hosts rival Orange (2-5, 1-3) in Chagrin Valley Conference play at 7 p.m. Friday at C.S. Harris Stadium.
The host Tigers, under 25th-year head coach Mark Iammarino, who owns a 179-95 record at the helm, had four straight wins before losing to Division IV AP No. 2-ranked Perry (7-0), 45-17, last week.
Chagrin 6-foot-2, 225-pound junior quarterback Dawson Pierce completed 21 of 34 passes for 226 yards, while 165-pound junior playmaker Xavier Perez had 80 yards receiving and 21 yards rushing.
Defensively, the Tigers are polished on every unit. They surrendered just 8.3 points per game during their four-game win streak.
Orange, under 11th-year head coach Adam Bechlem, who owns a 54-55 record at the helm, is coming off a 55-12 victory against Edgewood (2-5, 0-4) to snap a three-game skid in a game that the Lions took advantage of six Edgewood turnovers and a blocked punt.
Lion 165-pound senior running back Diante White has been a workhorse all season, but he only needed six touches on Friday with his fellow gridders taking over.
Five-foot-10 junior quarterback Zak Basharat completed five passes for 187 yards, including 62- and 50-yard touchdown strikes to senior speedster Tre’von Davis. Junior running back Greg Beard and senior slotback Marvin Davies also made their marks.
Defensively, Orange has been up and down this year, but special teams have continued to come through with blocked extra points and punts.
In 2018, Chagrin Falls beat Orange, 29-21.
TONY’S TAKE: Chagrin wins, 31-24.
Medina at Solon
Both teams will be fighting to improve their positions in the playoff picture when the Solon gridders (5-2, 3-1) host Greater Cleveland Conference foe Medina (5-2, 2-2) at 7 p.m. Friday at Stewart Field.
The host Comets enter the night ranked fifth in Region 1, while the Battling Bees are ranked sixth among 12 contenders still in the race for eight spots.
Solon is coming off a 27-24 marquee victory against previously unbeaten Euclid (6-1, 3-1) in a game the Comets overcame a 17-0 deficit in the second quarter, scored two go-ahead touchdowns in the final four minutes and clung to a win on a missed 41-yard field-goal attempt by the Panthers.
Solon didn’t have much success running the pigskin, but junior quarterback Pat McQuaide’s 17-of-27 passing for 189 yards, with eight completions to senior Grant McCurry for 122 yards, as well as the punting of senior Ethan Wong, sparked the comeback.
Defensively, Solon surrendered 466 yards, but, with a team-high 16 tackles by senior linebacker RJ Howard, the Comets did enough to slow down one of the toughest rushers they’ll see all season in Euclid’s Jaabir Mujihad.
Medina, under fourth-year head coach Larry Laird, who owns a 23-16 record at the helm, is coming off a convincing 38-0 victory against Strongsville (4-3, 1-3) in a game the Bees led, 17-0, at intermission, before piling on three more touchdowns in the third quarter.
Medina scored on a 70-yard double pass to open the game, and backup quarterback Drew Allar commanded the second half to finish with 233 yards passing for three touchdowns. Overall, the Bees finished with 364 yards passing and just 34 yards rushing.
Defensively, Medina held Strongsville’s robust ground attack to just 85 yards rushing.
That said, this week’s matchup between Solon and Medina could turn into an aerial frenzy going both ways.
Medina’s two losses this season are against AP No. 1-ranked Mentor (7-0) and AP No. 8-ranked Euclid.
Solon owns an 11-3 series advantage against Medina, but the Bees have won the past two meetings, including a 27-24 victory last season.
TONY’S TAKE: Solon sneaks by, 34-30.
Madison at Kenston
The Kenston gridders (6-1, 3-1) will be geared for a bounce-back victory when they host Western Reserve Conference foe Madison (3-4, 2-2) at 7 p.m. Friday in Bainbridge Township.
The AP No. 7-ranked Bombers are coming off their first loss of the season, 17-16, during a road test against Chardon, with the Hilltoppers scoring the game-winning 26-yard field goal with three seconds to play.
Chardon’s wing-T controlled the clock to limit Kenston’s offense to just seven drives in the game, with the Bombers getting intercepted and turning the ball over on downs during two trips to the red zone. Senior receiver Tyler Mintz again was a spark in Kenston’s offense, with seven catches for 142 yards, including 55- and 21-yard touchdowns.
The loss snapped a 12-game win streak for Kenston that went back to last year’s 27-24 loss against Chardon.
Madison, under 20th-year head coach Tim Willis, who owns a 127-81 record at the helm, is coming off a 50-20 victory against Eastlake North (2-5, 0-4) last Thursday in a game the triumphant Blue Streaks owned just a 21-13 lead at halftime.
Madison 5-foot-9, 185-pound junior running back Austin McCourt had 27 carries for 193 yards with four touchdowns in the Blue Streaks’ one-back set, while 6-foot-1, 175-pound senior dual-threat quarterback Alex Dragas was four-of-four passing for 79 yards and had nine carries for 68 yards.
Defensively, Madison was susceptible to giving up big runs, including 37- and 41-yard touchdown jaunts to North.
Kenston owns a 9-3 series advantage against Madison, including a 28-6 win in inclement weather last year.
TONY’S TAKE: Kenston wins, 35-20.
West Geauga at Edgewood
West Geauga (3-4, 3-1) will remain in the hunt for a Chagrin Valley Conference banner when the Wolverines hit the road against the Edgewood Warriors (2-5, 0-4) at 7 p.m. Friday at Corlew Stadium in Ashtabula.
The Wolverines are coming off a 49-16 road rout of Harvey in a game junior running back Trae Zimmermann and senior running back Joe Peterson combined for 199 yards rushing and five touchdowns. Senior quarterback Riley Huge was eight-of-nine passing for 90 yards.
If West Geauga sees the full-go return of junior speedster Nick Henry, a state finalist in the 100-meter dash who broke his collarbone during a seven-on-seven scrimmage in the summer, its offense will be that much more dangerous in the final three weeks of the season.
Defensively, West Geauga held a shutout through three quarters against Harvey, before subbing out its starters.
Edgewood, under second-year head coach Jon Butchko, who owns a 5-12 record at the helm, is coming off a 55-12 loss against Orange, a team that West Geauga handled, 25-13, in week five.
In the game against Orange, Edgewood couldn’t hold onto the football, with four interceptions, two fumbles and a blocked punt. The Warriors also lost four turnovers the previous week in a 47-8 loss against Chagrin Falls.
With sophomore gunslinger Zach Winchell under center, however, Edgewood does have the ability to go long.
West Geauga and Edgewood are new opponents this year.
TONY’S TAKE: West Geauga wins, 45-13.
University School at Villa Angela-St. Joseph
University School (5-2) is still praying and hoping for an outside shot at a playoff berth in a deep, deep Region 9, but the Preppers will have to take care of business during a road test against Division V Villa Angela-St. Joseph (4-3) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Euclid.
The Preppers are coming off a grind-it-out win against Youngstown Chaney (3-4) in a game they slowed down to a huddle-up offense with 6-foot-6 senior quarterback Ricky Radtke putting the game on ice with a 15-yard touchdown strike to senior tight end Parker Crowley with 8:35 to play.
Junior running back Nick Flowers took over lead rushing duties with 22 carries for 147 yards, as University School played one of its cleanest games with zero turnovers and just 17 yards of penalties.
VASJ, under first-year head coach Elvis Grbac, a former Pro Bowl quarterback in the NFL, is coming off a 26-21 loss against Lutheran East (5-2) in a game the Vikings scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to keep it close.
The Vikings were down, 24-7, entering the fourth quarter, in large part due to four turnovers. But VASJ 6-foot-4, 180-pound junior quarterback Kevin Eiseman, a dual threat, kept his team fighting till the finish. He had a 48-yard touchdown run, as well as 19- and 34-yard touchdown tosses.
In 2018, University defeated VASJ, 42-12.
TONY’S TAKE: University wins, 32-24.
Hawken School at Berkshire
Hawken School (3-4, 1-2) will be in for trouble when it travels to take on the Division V Berkshire Badgers (5-2, 3-0) in Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division play at 7 p.m. Friday at Reed Field in Burton Township.
The Hawks are coming off back-to-back victories, most recently with a 63-26 win against Richmond Heights (0-7) in a game they recorded 468 yards and 25 first downs on 44 plays.
Hawken junior Zach Miller scored four touchdowns on 63 yards rushing, freshman Dominic Johnson scored three touchdowns on 114 yards rushing and 76 yards receiving, and sophomore Terrence Robinson tossed for 234 yards and had 57 yards rushing for two touchdowns. It was the most points Hawken scored in at least 20 years.
Berkshire, under seventh-year head coach Josh DeWeese, who owns a 26-42 record at the helm, is coming off a 16-13 victory against a Wickliffe team (3-4, 1-3) that put a 49-7 hurting on Hawken in week four.
Berkshire owned a 16-0 lead against Wickliffe at halftime, behind Badger 5-foot-10, 210-pound senior running back Ryan Pennypacker’s 20 carries for 122 yards with two touchdowns, before holding on in the second half. Berkshire 5-foot-11 junior quarterback Jake Brown finished seven-of-nine passing for 115 yards.
Defensively, Berkshire surrendered 275 yards rushing against Wickliffe but did not break in terms of giving up any huge touchdown runs to the Blue Devils.
Hawken and Berkshire last played in 2017, with the Hawks coming away the 35-14 victors.
TONY’S TAKE: Berkshire wins, 42-21.
Gilmour Academy at John F. Kennedy
Gilmour Academy (4-3) will have a shortened week when the Lancers hit the road to take on the Division VII John F. Kennedy Eagles (4-3) at 7 p.m. Friday at Warren G. Harding’s Mollenkoff Stadium in Trumbull County.
The visiting Lancers are coming off a 33-0 road rout of Cleveland Central Catholic (0-7) to hand the Ironmen their third shutout loss of the season, due in part to interceptions by junior Michael Snelling, freshman Charlie Snelling and senior Aidan Muchnicki.
Offensively, Gilmour sophomore quarterback Dan Jevnikar was dialed in for 152 yards passing, including five completions to 6-foot-2 senior Nate Reichard for 76 yards, while senior Connor Krebs took the ground load with 17 carries for 125 yards.
JFK, under sixth-year head coach Jeff Bayuk, who owns a 42-27 record at the helm, with a state title in 2016, is coming off a 34-9 loss against St. Thomas Aquinas (5-2) in a game that was 7-3 at halftime.
JFK gained 364 yards, but turnovers kept the Eagles from finding the end zone until 6-foot senior quarterback Christian Marantis tossed a 28-yard strike to junior receiver Sejjan Couto to cut their deficit, 27-9, with 9:02 left in the game.
Defensively, JFK surrendered 447 yards, including 336 yards passing to St. Thomas.
But even with the loss, JFK has four quality wins to remain in the playoff picture with a No. 6 ranking in computer points in its region.
In 2018, Gilmour defeated JFK, 14-3.
TONY’S TAKE: Gilmour wins, 21-20.
(Editor’s note: Tony Lange went 7-1 last week and is 44-7 overall.)