(Editor’s note: Tony Lange went 7-0 last week and is 12-3 overall.)
Game of the week
Hawken School at Gilmour Academy, 2 p.m. Saturday.
It’s rivalry week in Gates Mills, where the Division V Gilmour Academy gridders (1-1) will host Hawken School (1-1) at 2 p.m. Saturday at Weber Stadium.
In the past 20 years, Gilmour owns a 13-7 series advantage, including three consecutive victories after defeating the Hawks, 61-22, last season.
The host Lancers, under fifth-year head coach Chris Kosiorek, opened their 2019 campaign with a 28-21 overtime loss against St. Thomas Aquinas, before bouncing back with a 21-6 triumph against Warrensville Heights last week.
Offensively, Gilmour was paced by 170-pound freshman running back Santino Harper’s 28 carries for 182 yards and two touchdowns in the triumph.
Defensively, Gilmour held Warrensville to one big play, a 65-yard touchdown, and turned the Tigers over three times with a pair of fumble recoveries by junior lineman Jimmy McCrone and an interception by senior defensive back Aidan Muchnicki.
Hawken, under second-year head coach Brian Stephenson, lost its season opener against Trinity, 48-20, but the Hawks bounced back with a 40-14 victory against Newbury for their first win since 2017 last week.
Offensively, Hawken gained 386 yards, mostly through 115-pound freshman running back Dominic Johnson’s six carries for 194 yards, including a school-record 96-yard touchdown. Also, sophomore quarterback Terrence Robinson completed nine of 12 passes for 109 yards with three touchdowns.
Defensively, the Hawks held Newbury to 279 yards rushing on 52 carries. Hawken won the turnover battle, 2-0, with sophomore defensive back Ben Elenin intercepting one of the Black Knights’ four passing attempts.
TONY’S TAKE: Gilmour wins, 28-20.
Solon at Stow-Munroe Falls
After beating a pair of Division II foes, the Solon gridders have nothing but Division I, Region 1 opponents left on their schedule, starting with a road battle against Stow-Munroe Falls (2-0) at 7 p.m. Friday at Bulldog Stadium in Summit County.
The Comets own an 11-3 series advantage against Stow but have not won a road game against the Bulldogs since a 38-14 result in 2006.
Solon is coming off a 46-6 triumph against Twinsburg (1-1) in a game the Comets surrendered a 71-yard touchdown toss on the third play of the game but held the Tigers to less than 130 yards of offense thereafter.
Defensively, Solon’s run defense got its act together, surrendering just 57 yards rushing after giving up 403 yards rushing against Hudson (0-2) in week-one football. Comet 205-pound senior linebacker RJ Howard tallied a team-high seven tackles against Twinsburg.
Through two weeks, Solon has forced nine turnovers with four coming against Twinsburg, including interceptions by senior defensive backs Dominic McGhee and Ryan Mulvaney and fumble recoveries by senior linemen Najee Story and Jack Westrich.
Offensively, Solon showed balance with 272 yards passing and 212 yards rushing. Junior quarterback Pat McQuaide completed 12 of 17 passes for four touchdowns, with five of his completions going to senior Grant McCurry for 187 yards and three touchdowns.
Stow, under second-year head coach Tom Phillips, missed the playoffs last season after three consecutive trips. But the Bulldogs appear to be back in the chase after opening their season with a 21-13 victory against Division IV Lake Catholic and a 34-21 road triumph against Division II Barberton last week.
Barberton had 26 consecutive regular-season victories before running into Stow last week. Stow junior cornerback Jack Bryden collected a 3-yard pick-six on the opening drive of the fourth quarter for the eventual 34-21 final.
Offensively, Stow 6-foot-4 sophomore quarterback Owen Bainbridge completed 14 of 22 passes for 175 yards and three touchdowns, while 180-pound junior Mykal Azar had 17 carries for 104 yards, but the Bulldogs have weapons all over among their skilled guys.
Defensively, the Bulldogs surrendered 327 yards and three touchdowns in the air on 47 pass attempts by Barberton.
In 2018, Solon beat Stow, 28-14.
TONY’S TAKE: Solon wins, 32-28.
West Geauga at Kenston
After outscoring their first two opponents, 90-0, the Kenston gridders don’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon with a week-three home battle against Division IV West Geauga (0-2) at 7 p.m. Friday at Bombers Stadium in Bainbridge Township.
The defending Division III state champions, under eighth-year head coach Jeff Grubich, own a 38-24-1 series advantage against the Wolverines, including four straight victories since 2013.
Most recently, Kenston is coming off of a 55-0 stomping of Chagrin Falls in a game that seven Bombers found the end zone behind 483 yards of offense and a running clock for the entirety of the second half.
Senior quarterback Jon Tomcufcik completed 15 of 16 passes for 233 yards and three touchdowns, while senior running back Jack Porter had 13 carries for 130 yards and two touchdowns, and senior receiver Tyler Mintz had eight catches for 137 yards with a touchdown.
Defensively, Kenston held Chagrin to 87 yards passing, 41 yards rushing and just five first downs. Kenston also won the turnover battle, 3-0, with 190-pound junior linebacker Alec Kolenic forcing a fumble and recovering a fumble, 170-pound senior linebacker Frank DiMarco collecting a fumble, and freshman defensive back Lucas Simmons stripping a receiver.
West Geauga, under second-year head coach Adam Sopkovich, lost its season opener against Chardon, 41-3, and then lost a 35-28 battle against Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin (1-1) last week.
After falling behind, 14-0, West Geauga scored 21 points in the second quarter, including two touchdowns in the final 1:10 of the half, for a tie game at intermission.
Offensively, West Geauga gained 303 yards with 175-pound junior running back Trae Zimmermann doing the majority of the damage by way of 21 carries for 148 yards, as well as four catches for 35 yards. Six-foot-4 senior quarterback Riley Huge tossed for 113 yards.
Defensively, West G surrendered 372 yards, 280 rushing, and forced four turnovers against NDCL, including two interceptions by junior cornerback Luke Musser and fumble recoveries by seniors Levi Veverka and Cade Williams.
In 2018, Kenston beat West Geauga, 37-0.
TONY’S TAKE: Kenston wins, 45-13.
Woodridge at Chagrin Falls
After a pair of rough road losses, the Chagrin Falls gridders will host Division III Woodridge (1-1) in their home opener at 7 p.m. Friday at C.S. Harris Stadium.
The last time Chagrin Falls won a non-conference game was by way of a 40-34 result against Woodridge in 2014. Since then, Chagrin has gone 0-15 against non-league foes.
The host Tigers’ biggest challenge this week will be tightening up on defense, after a 55-14 loss against a physical, run-oriented Streetsboro team and a 55-0 loss against a balanced Kenston team.
Against Kenston, Chagrin surrendered 483 yards without enough fresh bodies to keep up with the high-pace efficiency of the Bombers.
Offensively, the Tigers struggled to move the chains with three lost fumbles and three dropped passes. Six-foot-2, 225-pound junior quarterback Dawson Peirce completed six of 17 passes for 56 yards and had nine carries for 23 yards to lead the way.
The Woodridge Bulldogs are under sixth-year head coach Jeff Decker, who was the Chagrin Falls defensive coordinator during the Tigers’ glory days of six consecutive postseason appearances between 2008 and 2013.
Taking the reins at Woodridge, Decker led the Bulldogs to a sixth consecutive playoff berth in 2017 before finishing 6-4 last season.
The Bulldogs opened their 2019 campaign with a 24-14 win against Division III West Branch (0-2), before losing a 51-10 road route against Division II Nordonia (1-1) in a game they surrendered 499 yards, including 295 rushing, last week.
Offensively, Woodridge 180-pound junior running back Dohntay Williams had nine carries for 120 yards against Nordonia, including the Bulldogs’ lone end-zone find on a 71-yard jaunt in the first quarter. Senior quarterback Andrew Mekeal was three-of-10 passing for 14 yards.
Woodridge and Chagrin did not play each other in 2018, but the Bulldogs own a three-game win streak against the Tigers.
TONY’S TAKE: Woodridge wins, 31-21.
Wickliffe at Orange
The Orange gridders will attempt to avoid their first 0-3 start since 2003 when they suit up to host the Division V Wickliffe Blue Devils (2-0) in a Chagrin Valley Conference crossover at 7 p.m. Friday night at Lewis Black Stadium in Pepper Pike.
After a sour 27-25 loss in a season opener against Beachwood, Orange took one to the chin against physical Streetsboro, 49-14, last week.
Defensively, Orange surrendered 529 yards, including 424 rushing, against Streetsboro, whose star running back Krys Riley-Richardson amassed 187 yards for three touchdowns, including an end-zone find when the game was already put away in the fourth quarter.
Offensively, Orange moved the pigskin 255 yards with 184 yards passing between two quarterbacks – senior starter Brian Pernell was six-of-12 for 99 yards, while junior Zak Basharat finished eight-of-10 for 85 yards. Both signal-callers lost fumbles.
Wickliffe, under ninth-year head coach Marce Porcello, who owns a 42-44 record at the helm, defeated Division VI Oberlin, 54-18, to open its season, and then shut out Division III Harvey, 33-0, behind 364 yards rushing and 36 yards passing last week.
Offensively, Wickliffe 6-foot-2, 210-pound junior running back Chase Fortkamp carried the bulk of the load with 12 touches for 127 yards rushing against Harvey, but the Blue Devils have a three-back set.
Defensively, Wickliffe held Harvey to 48 yards rushing, 110 yards passing and 10 first downs, with the Blue Devils collecting a pair of interceptions against 13 pass attempts.
Orange and Wickliffe did not play each other last season, but Orange defeated the Blue Devils, 42-6, in 2017.
TONY’S TAKE: Orange wins, 28-26.
University School at Willoughby South
Set to lock horns with the biggest school on their schedule, the University School gridders (1-1) will hit the road to take on the Division II Willoughby South Rebels (2-0) at 7 p.m. Friday at Harry E. Winters Stadium in Lake County.
After shutting out Warrensville Heights, 34-0, in a season opener, University lost a 49-14 road rout against Bellevue (2-0) in a game that the triumphant Redmen put up 446 yards against the Preppers last week.
University’s defense did force three fumbles, but the maroon-and-black gridders couldn’t keep their offense on the field with just eight first downs and 54 yards rushing on 20 carries. Junior quarterback Ricky Radtke completed 13 of 31 passes for 125 yards, with five of those completions going to senior receiver Nic Pujolas for 72 yards.
South, under 16th-year head coach Matt Duffy, who owns a 107-64 record at the helm, opened its season with a 26-22 come-from-behind victory against Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin (1-1), and then the Rebels defeated Division II Maple Heights, 38-34, by grounding and pounding on a 75-yard drive that concluded with the game-winning touchdown with 16 second remaining last week.
Maple Heights had a 28-17 lead at halftime, before finishing with 185 rushing and 223 passing yards.
South, which also had a balanced attack of 255 yards rushing and 190 yards passing, was led on the ground by 190-pound senior running back Deshod Reese’s 22 carries for 113 yards and 205-pound sophomore running back Ira Sampson’s 17 carries for 97 yards, including that game-winning score.
Also on offense, Rebel senior quarterback Justin Grosel completed 14 of 22 passes for 190 yards, with eight of his completions going to Eastern Michigan commit Rico Small for 130 yards.
University and South last met on the gridiron in 2014, when the Rebels came away the 43-10 victors.
TONY’S TAKE: South wins, 27-20.