Game of the week: Chagrin at Kenston
7 p.m. Friday
Records are supposed to be disregarded in rivalry games, but Kenston (1-0) is no doubt a mighty favorite when the Division III Bombers host Division IV Chagrin Falls (0-1) in a battle of Old Route 422 at 7 p.m. Friday at Bomber Stadium in Bainbridge Township.
Kenston, under eighth-year head coach Jeff Grubich, is coming off a 35-0 victory against Division VI Black River, which was more or less of a tune-up game. The Bombers scored all five touchdowns in the first half, and Black River will probably be the easiest team they’ll face all season.
Offensively, Kenston senior quarterback Jon Tomcufcik completed 11 of 15 passes for 168 yards, senior slotback Tyler Mintz collected six catches for 91 yards, and senior running back Jack Porter had 19 carries for 124 yards.
If Porter can eclipse the 100-yard rushing mark against Chagrin Falls, he’ll be the sixth player in Ohio High School Athletic Association history to have 20 consecutive performances surpassing the century mark.
Defensively, Kenston held Black River’s wing-T to 114 yards of offense and six first downs on 32 plays.
Chagrin Falls, under 25th-year head coach Mark Iammarino, who coached Grubich in his first season with the Tigers, is coming off a 55-14 loss against Division III Streetsboro in a game that the triumphant Rockets gained 543 of their 653 yards by ground.
Offensively, Chagrin Falls 6-foot-2, 225-pound junior quarterback Dawson Pierce was 11-of-22 passing for 114 yards, junior playmaker Xavier Perez had five carries for 27 yards, as well as two catches for 18 yards, and 5-foot-7 senior Will Richmond collected five catches for 64 yards.
In 61 previous meetings between Kenston and Chagrin Falls, the Tigers hold a 33-28 series advantage, but the Bombers own a three-game streak, including a 41-14 victory last year.
TONY’S TAKE: Kenston wins, 42-17.
Solon at Twinsburg
Now that the Solon gridders (1-0) have been tested at home, the Comets will hit the road to take on their oldest rival, Division II Twinsburg (1-0), at 7 p.m. Friday at Tiger Stadium.
It’ll be the 59th meeting between the two programs, with the visiting Comets owning a 47-8-3 series advantage and a six-game streak, including a 38-0 shutout victory last year.
Most recently, the Solon gridders are coming off a 46-41 home victory against Hudson in a game they trailed, 27-15, early in the third quarter before busting off 24 straight points.
Offensively, Solon put up its most points since a 2016, behind the 18-of-27 passing performance of junior quarterback Pat McQuaide for 255 yards, as well as junior running back Khalil Eichelberger’s 19 carries for 144 yards and senior Grant McCurry’s six catches for 108 yards.
Defensively, the Comets have a lot to figure out when it comes to stopping the run, as Hudson gained 403 of its 494 yards by ground, but 80 plays by the Explorers’ hurry-up offense had a lot to do with the high-scoring affair. Solon’s defense did shine by forcing five turnovers, however, including a 75-yard pick-six by McCurry.
Twinsburg, under fifth-year head coach Mike Bell, is coming off a 21-20 double overtime road victory against Division III Copley in a game that the Tigers defended a two-point conversion pass attempt to preserve the victory.
Both teams saw their starting quarterbacks exit, but Twinsburg senior Aiden Carrigan, who went down with cramps early in the second quarter, returned to finish.
The offensive playmaker of the game for the Tigers was 5-foot-7 senior slotback Dominick Glenn, who scored the first touchdown of the game on a 62-yard jet sweep and the winning touchdown on a 16-yard toss from Corrigan.
TONY’S TAKE: Solon wins, 38-21.
Streetsboro at Orange
If the Orange gridders (0-1) thought they went up against good competition last week, just wait until the Division III Streetsboro Rockets (1-0) come to town at 7 p.m. Friday at Lewis Black Stadium in Pepper Pike.
The host Lions are coming off a 27-25 loss against Beachwood in a game they missed three extra points and surrendered a two-point conversion with 2:35 left in the game for the eventual final.
Offensively, Orange gained 378 of its 420 yards by ground, led by 165-pound senior running back Diante White’s 21 carries for 227 yards and senior quarterback Brian Pernell’s eight carries for 90 yards. Although, Pernell was one of a few keys players who went down with cramps and did not finish the game.
Defensively, Orange held Beachwood to 310 yards.
Streetsboro, under third-year head coach Pete Thompson, is coming off a 55-14 stomping of Chagrin Falls behind three 100-plus-yard rushers for the Rockets, notably 6-foot-1, 225-pound senior running back Krys Riley-Richardson’s 16 carries for 242 yards.
Defensively, Streetsboro held Chagrin to just 60 yards rushing, which could be a sign that Orange will need to attempt more than six passes, like it did against Beachwood.
In 2018, Orange beat Streetsboro, 35-28.
TONY TAKE: Streetsboro wins, 42-27.
Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin at West Geauga
West Geauga (0-1) is not as bad as the score looks from its season opener, but the Wolverines will still have their hands full when Division III Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin comes to town at 7 p.m. Friday at Howell Field in Chester Township.
The host Wolverines are coming off a 41-3 licking against rival Chardon, which no doubt will be a Division III playoff contender this season. The Hilltoppers put up 243 yards rushing with their wing-T, but they also tossed for 125 yards.
West Geauga’s offense moved the chains eight times with 129 yards on 24 plays. Six-foot-4, 220-pound senior quarterback Riley Huge completing eight of 25 passes for 85 yards, but he didn’t have much help with the butterfingers of his receiving corps – although, sophomore Michael Cavasinni did come up with three catches for 64 yards.
NDCL, under fifth-year head coach Andrew Mooney, is coming off a 26-22 loss against Willoughby South in a game that the triumphant Rebels closed off the end zone for the entirety of the second half, including a last-second stand inside their own 10-yard line.
Offensively, NDCL gained 443 yards with a 331-yard passing night by senior quarterback Jon Sharp, including 58- and 55-yard touchdown tosses to senior receiver Johnny Nguyen and a 35-yard screen pass to 200-pound senior running back Jack Robinson. But NDCL lost the turnover battle, 3-1, with two interceptions thrown by Sharp in the fourth quarter.
Defensively, NDCL surrendered 445 yards, including 307 rushing.
In 2018, NDCL beat West Geauga, 42-7.
TONY’S TAKE: NDCL wins, 35-17.
University School at Bellevue
After taking care of business at home, University School (1-0) will hit the road to take on the Division IV playoff perennial Bellevue Redmen (1-0) at 7 p.m. Friday in Sandusky County.
The Preppers are coming off a 34-0 victory against Warrensville Heights for their first shutout since 2011. University School held Warrensville to just 57 yards in large part due to forcing the Tigers into five turnovers.
Offensively, the maroon-and-black gridders moved the chains 22 times with 323 yards, propelled by senior running back Dylan Loconti’s 23 carries for 138 yards, while junior quarterback Ricky Radtke was four-of-eight passing for 57 yards.
For the most part, US played a clean game with five penalties for 30 yards, compared to 16 penalties for 107 yards against Warrensville Heights.
Bellevue, meanwhile, opened its season with a 35-0 victory against Port Clinton, on the heels of a 4-6 campaign in 2018, which snapped a six-year streak of playoff berths for the Redmen.
Against Port Clinton, Bellevue junior quarterback Keegan Ray threw for 164 yards, including a 57-yard touchdown strike to senior receiver Jack Fitzgerald. The signal-caller also ran for 114 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, Bellevue held Port Clinton to just 4 yards rushing behind the stout tackling effort of 6-foot-1, 205-pound senior linebacker Jack Howey, a third-team all-Ohio selection last season. Although, Port Clinton did throw for 159 yards.
University School and Bellevue are new opponents this season.
TONY’S TAKE: Bellevue wins, 31-20.
Newbury at Hawken School
Hawken School (0-1) showed some promise in its season opener, but now it’s time for the Hawks to show a win when they host the Division VII Newbury Black Knights (0-1) in a Geauga County showdown at 7 p.m. Friday at Walton Stadium.
The Hawks are coming off a 48-20 loss against Trinity in a game that their new sophomore quarterback, Terrence Robinson, aired out 22 completions for 207 yards and three touchdowns, and he tucked the pigskin 28 times for 109 yards. There’s no doubt it’s been a hot minute since a Hawken player had more than 300 yards of total offense.
Not to mention, freshman running back Dominic Johnson tallied 109 yards rushing and 98 yards receiving.
Should the Hawks shore up the defensive side of the pigskin, after surrendering 473 yards against Trinity, they’ll be in business.
Newbury, under fourth-year head coach Ryan Williams, is coming off a 32-6 loss against fellow Division VII foe Fairport Harding in a game that the Black Knights surrendered 381 yards – 155 passing and 226 rushing – in defeat.
Newbury’s defense is led by 6-foot, 215-pound senior lineman Mitch Sanders and 6-foot, 200-pound junior linebacker John Tropf, who were both all-Ohio selections in 2018.
Offensively, Newbury returns 170-pound senior quarterback Noah Arnold and 185-pound senior running back Julian Cicchella from last year’s 2-8 campaign, but the Black Knights coughed up the pigskin six times against Harding, including four interceptions.
Hawken and Newbury last met on the gridiron in 2013, when the Hawks won, 60-8.
TONY’S TAKE: Hawken wins, 34-33.
Warrensville Heights at Gilmour Academy
After a difficult-to-swallow overtime loss in their season opener, the Gilmour Academy gridders will be focused on every snap when they host Division IV Warrensville Heights (0-1) at 2 p.m. Saturday at Weber Field in Gates Mills.
The host Lancers surrendered two pick-sixes and a fourth-and-22 touchdown toss in overtime during a 28-21 loss against St. Thomas Aquinas last week. While Gilmour struggled in its passing game, with three interceptions, the Lancers gained 185 yards rushing, including senior Connor Krebs’ 10 carries for 140 yards, which might be the key to victory this week.
Defensively, Gilmour was stout in allowing just one touchdown in regulation, but that overtime breakdown on fourth-and-22 will surely keep the Lancers’ working on their scramble assignments.
Warrensville Heights, under first-year head coach Romie Graham, is coming off a crushing loss against University School, 34-0, in a game that the Tigers gained just 57 yards, coughed up five turnovers and shot themselves in the foot with 16 penalties for 107 yards.
But Warrensville does have speed and talent at the skilled positions, and, if the Tigers can clean up their turnovers and penalties, they’ll be a formidable opponent.
In 2018, Gilmour defeated Warrensville, 35-14.
TONY’S TAKE: Gilmour wins, 28-27.
(Editor’s note: Tony Lange went 5-3 last week.)