From my seat in the press box at Archbishop Hoban's stadium on Thursday, I took two big things away from Roosevelt's 22-7 victory over the Knights.
1. Kent Roosevelt's offense needs a little more work.
2. Kent Roosevelt's defense might just hold down the fort until its offense gets that work in.
The Rough Riders allowed just 142 total yards of offense and one touchdown against the Knights. Most of those yards came during the first half, as Hoban totaled just 43 yards on 22 plays during its four second-half possessions.
Roosevelt head coach John Nemec said that he actually felt like his defense's performance on Thursday was as good as he's seen in years. High praise from the longtime coach, who has mentored some great teams.
"I thought that all 11 of our defensive players turned in one of the best performances they have in years against Hoban," Nemec said. "Obviously, our defense is led by Matt Sommers, and he was the leader out there."
After the game, Sommers deflected the praise for his unit's performance, crediting the way his younger teammates performed on a hot night, despite many having to play both ways.
"It was hot and the first game," Sommers said. "It's been cool for two-a-days, so a lot of the first-year players came out and fought hard. We asked them to man up because a lot of them were going both ways and they really came to play tonight."
As for the other side of the ball, Roosevelt's offense started out the game with some struggles.
In Roosevelt's five first-half possessions, the Rough Riders totaled just 48 yards on 20 snaps. Even Roosevelt's first-half touchdown came off of a defensive play, as a turnover at the Hoban 15-yard-line created an easy opportunity for the Riders' offense.
But in the second half, Roosevelt put together two game-deciding scoring drives of 81 and 71 yards that were the lion's share of the team's 154 second-half yardage total.
Starting quarterback Dustin Monaco was not the only first-year starter for the Rough Riders -- a point Nemec did not draw too much attention to until asked.
"We only started three kids on offense who had started for us before the Hoban game, while we had eight or nine returning starters on defense," Hoban said. "We had four new offensive linemen, a new QB and a new RB. Only our slot receivers, Kardell Jackson and Luther Fortson and our RG, Stan Zalewski, had starts going into that game.
"So there's going to be a definite learning curve there," Nemec added.
ROOSEVELT SEEKS REDEMPTION
Roosevelt remembers what happened in the second week of the 2012 season when Stow handed the Rough Riders their only loss of the regular season.
A Bulldogs team that would finish the season a meager 3-7 found enough to top the Riders in a 33-26 final.
The loss did not keep Kent Roosevelt from obtaining its season goals. The Riders went on to win the Metro Division championship and also qualified for the Division II, Region 5 playoffs.
Still, the Week 2 loss stung.
Any redemption for the Riders will have to be done against a talented Bulldogs team.
"I think Stow is a real good football team," Nemec said. "They beat North Canton Hoover (14-7) to start this season, they really gave McKinley a game in a scrimmage and have a lot of guys back from last year (16 returning starters).
"They'll be tough and our guys realize that," Nemec said. "We have to really prepare ourselves for a big game this week, but I have a lot of faith in our kids, and I know that they'll be ready."
RED DEVILS WIN
It's hard to say after just one week of play, but Crestwood's Week 1 win over West Branch, which included 48 points for the Red Devils, might be a statement game.
If nothing else, it was a superb season-opening performance for second-year head coach Pete Thompson's team.
For some historical perspective, Crestwood has not scored 48 or more points in a game since 2007, when the Red Devils thumped Springfield in a 57-7 victory. On a related note, Friday's win was Crestwood's first season-opening victory since the 2004 season, when the Red Devils picked up an 18-11 win over Kent Roosevelt.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Ravenna at Aurora
The Ravens vs. the Greenmen presents itself as a battle between two of Portage County's premier programs.
Aurora enters the Week 2 showdown with the momentum. The Greenmen are coming off of a gutty 20-13 win over a good Twinsburg team, while the Ravens stumbled in a 26-3 loss to Tallmadge.
Despite losing standouts like Zach Smierciak, Zach Quinn and Jake McVay to the FBS ranks of college football, Aurora still returns Kent State-bound QB George Bollas, who looked good going 8-of-13 for 83 yards through the air and running 17 times for 105 yards against Twinsburg.
Losing a player like senior defensive lineman Josh Perry -- a team captain -- to a season-ending injury against Tallmadge only further added to the defeat on Friday for the Ravens.
Perry suffered what appears to be an MCL injury against the Blue Devils. To be named a team captain on a team full of talented players like the Ravens says a lot about Perry's importance, so his loss will be a tough one replace for the Ravens.
The player to keep an eye on for the Ravens will be QB Warren Bradley. Against Tallmadge, Bradley finished 8-of-16 for 64 yards through the air, while also rushing the ball 16 times for 79 yards.
Ravenna has to keep the ball out of Bollas and his offense's hands, so the best way for that to happen is if Bradley and RB Demetrius Fear can make plays and extend drives on the ground and chew up clock. If they can't do that, this game might be over early for the Ravens.
Facebook: Colin Harris, Record-Courier