Kenston at Madison
After last week’s game was canceled because the opposing team had players test positive for COVID-19, the Kenston gridders will attempt to give their season opener another go.
The Bombers will take on Division II Western Reserve Conference foe Madison (0-1) at 7 p.m. Friday at Dick Hamblin Field in Lake County.
Kenston is returning from an 8-3 campaign under ninth-year head coach Jeff Grubich, but boy are there some shoes to fill after graduating nine starters on both sides of the football.
The Bombers will give 6-foot sophomore Nikko Georgiou the green light at quarterback, while they’ll lean on 6-foot-5, 200-pound tight end Ryan Miller, a Division I prospect, as well as the return of 6-foot junior receiver JP Germano.
Defensively, the Bombers will be backboned by 6-foot, 215-pound senior Anthony Valocchi, who shined at linebacker last year but could move around some this season – many questions in the trenches have yet to be answered.
Madison, under first-year head coach Mike Gilligan, is coming off a 17-14 road loss against Geneva with a 27-yard field goal in the fourth quarter accounting for the difference.
Madison 5-foot-11 senior slot receiver Brad McKeon, the fastest guy on the team, accounted for both of the Blue Streaks’ touchdowns, including a 3-yard run and a 56-yard reception.
Defensively, Madison didn’t have an answer for Geneva’s 6-foot-3, 250-pound fullback Charlie Taylor, who had 18 carries for 107 yards.
In 2019, Kenston defeated Madison, 26-14.
TONY’S TAKE: Kenston wins, 28-21.
Willoughby South at Chardon
A week of off-the-field distractions shouldn’t stop Chardon (1-0) from taking care of business when the Hilltoppers host Division II Western Reserve Conference foe Willoughby South (0-1) at 7 p.m. Friday at Memorial Field.
The Chardon gridders are coming off a 42-7 victory against Eastlake North in a game the Hilltoppers rushed for 478 yards behind senior running back James Pettyjohn, 179 yards, senior quarterback Drew Fetchik, 102 yards, and junior fullback Sean Carr, 77 yards.
Junior newcomer Nathan Tager proved he can be a game-changer for the Hilltoppers and their field-position battles. Tager was perfect on PATs and booted touchback after touchback.
Defensively, Chardon surrendered 166 yards, with 78 yards coming on one play, which accounted for North’s lone score.
South, under 17th-year head coach Matt Duffy, who owns a 111-70 record at the helm, is coming off a 30-0 loss against Riverside in a game that South standout Ira Sampson, a 6-foot, 220-pound junior running back, had 15 carries for 37 yards, yet the Rebels finished with just 6 net yards for the game.
Defensively, South surrendered 266 yards, including 144 yards rushing.
Last year, Chardon defeated South, 42-0. History should repeat itself on Friday.
TONY’S TAKE: Chardon wins, 42-0.
Lakeside at Chagrin Falls
Chagrin Falls is set up for another four-quarter battle when the Tigers (1-0) host Division II Chagrin Valley Conference foe Lakeside (0-1) at 7 p.m. Friday at C.S. Harris Stadium.
The Chagrin gridders are coming off a 16-6 victory against Painesville Harvey in a game they completely dominated the lines of scrimmage, outrushing the Red Raiders, 234 yards to 8 yards, thanks to a quartet of ball-carriers.
Chagrin senior running back Xavier Perez had seven carries for 40 yards in the first quarter but exited the game with a minor tweak. Senior running back Cam O’Connor showed his speed with 11 carries for 44 yards. And senior big-rig Owen McClintock was a ramming beam with five carries for 36 yards.
But it was sophomore Donny Hardy who had himself a varsity debut with 13 carries for 134 yards thanks to some patient running.
Defensively, Chagrin was headlined by senior linebackers McClintock and Josh Norton, who made his varsity debut by tallying eight tackles, three tackles for loss, a pass-breakup and helping to force a fumble. Not to mention, Norton had 35 yards receiving.
Lakeside, under third-year head coach Buzz Edwards, who owns a 3-17 record at the helm, is coming off a 21-19 loss against West Geauga, thanks to a missed extra point and a failed two-point conversion for the Dragons.
Lakeside coughed up the pigskin four times, including a pair of turnovers in the red zone. But the Dragons never quit with junior quarterback Garrette Siebeneck tossing three touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter.
In 2019, Chagrin defeated Lakeside, 45-12.
TONY’S TAKE: Chagrin wins, 24-21.
West Geauga at Conneaut
West Geauga is gearing for another long bus trip when the Wolverines (1-0) take on Division V non-league foe Conneaut (1-0) at 7 p.m. Friday at Joslin Field in the far corner of Ashtabula County.
The West G boys are coming off a 21-19 victory against Ashtabula Lakeside in a game rookie junior quarterback Danny Stewart showed promise with a pair of touchdown tosses – 35 yards to senior running back Trae Zimmermann and 10 yards to junior receiver Torry Stazzone – to get his team out to a 14-0 lead.
Defensively, West Geauga caused four turnovers, specifically with senior safety Luke Musser collecting a pair of interceptions and recovering a fumble. Musser’s first pick appeared to be a 99-yard return the other way, but a targeting penalty bought it back.
Conneaut, under head coach Rocco Dobran, is coming off a 35-7 home victory against Grand Valley, in a game the triumphant Spartans utilized two quarterbacks – senior Jake Slayton and junior Kiefer Mandagelo – who combined for 205 yards passing.
One guy to keep an eye out for is Conneaut senior receiver Tellus Andrews, who had four catches for 111 yards with two touchdowns.
Defensively, Conneaut held Grand Valley to just 65 yards.
West G and Conneaut are new opponents.
TONY’S TAKE: West Geauga wins, 31-21.
University School at Eastlake North
University School will attempt to get back in the saddle when the Preppers (0-1) hit the road to take on fellow Division II non-league foe Eastlake North (0-1) at 7 p.m. Friday at Nick Carter Stadium in Lake County.
The US gridders are coming off a 46-13 road loss against Division VI Mogadore in a game that got away from them in the third quarter because of chunk plays – Mogadore scored on an 85-yard kickoff return, a 49-yard rush and receptions of 39 and 41 yards in that frame.
Offensively, the Preppers’ lone score by their starters came when senior quarterback Solomon Perez completed a 20-yard touchdown toss to junior receiver Bryce Hodge to trim their deficit, 21-6, early in the third quarter.
North, under sixth-year head coach Shawn Dodd, who owns an 18-33 record at the helm, is coming off a 42-7 loss against a tough Chardon team. The Rangers’ lone touchdown was a 78-yard run by senior quarterback Chris Molica.
Another North player getting a lot of attention is 6-foot-7, 320-pound junior left tackle Ryan Baer, who is a top Division I prospect.
Defensively, North surrendered 478 yards rushing with no answer for Chardon’s wing-T.
University and North last met in 2014, when the Rangers were the 32-3 victors.
TONY’S TAKE: North wins, 35-21.
Warrensville Heights at Gilmour
Gilmour Academy will continue to feature its young talent when the Lancers (1-0) host the Division V Warrensville Heights Tigers (0-1) at 2 p.m. Saturday at Weber Stadium.
The Gilmour gridders are coming off a 39-20 home victory against Lutheran East in a game they created some distance with 20 points in the fourth quarter. But the Lancers got after it from the get-go, including a fake punt on their opening drive to help set up unior quarterback Thomas Richardon’s 48-yard touchdown run.
Richardson finished the game with 16 carries for 111 yards and three touchdowns in addition to 57 yards passing, while 180-pound sophomore running back Santino Harper had 15 carries for 148 yards along with two catches for 21 yards, not to mention two interceptions on defense.
Defensively, Gilmour forced four turnovers with 6-foot-4 sophomore Will Lazzaro also getting a pick and senior linebacker Mitch Lamosek recovering a fumble.
Warrensville Heights, under second-year head coach Romie Graham, is coming off a 39-20 loss against Warren John F. Kennedy in a game that featured 12 fumbles – six for each team.
Offensively, Warrensville senior quarterback Nate Bledsoe finished six-of-21 passing for 167 yards with two interceptions to add up to eight Tiger turnovers for the game. Bledsoe didn’t have much help from the Tigers’ run game, which provided just 27 yards.
Defensively, Warrensville surrendered chunk scores, including a 98-yard kickoff return and an 80-yard rush to John F. Kennedy Air Force Academy commit Jesse Likens.
In 2019, Gilmour Academy defeated Warrensville Heights, 21-6.
TONY’S TAKE: Gilmour wins, 35-20.