WOODRIDGE 44, RAVENNA 8
By Jonah Rosenblum
Following a dominant win over a team that was considered one of its top challengers for a division title, some high school coaches might worry about their kids getting a little cocky. Not Bulldogs coach Jeff Decker.
“Obviously, we have a lot of athletic ability, but more so than that, we have a lot of character,” Decker said.
Decker noted that during the offseason, following a 10-0 regular season in 2015, he spoke with his coaching staff about how to keep the kids confident but not overconfident. He quickly learned those concerns were for naught.
“It quickly became evident in the offseason that this group was not a group satisfied with what happened last year,” Decker said. “This was a group that they see bigger and better things for themselves.”
Before Woodridge slowed down in the second half, having taken a 37-0 lead into intermission, the Bulldogs had dominated the first down count, 14-3, against the Ravens.
Bulldogs starting quarterback Mason Lydic didn’t attempt a pass after the intermission. Instead, Woodridge took to the ground, with five straight King Alfred Sanders runs for 57 yards and a touchdown.
Ravenna defensive lineman Connor Browne came up with a couple of big stops in the backfield. In the first quarter, he got to Sanders in the backfield, immediately wrapping up the powerful Woodridge back for no gain. He did the same in the third quarter. Overall, Sanders got at least four yards on 12 of his 19 carries.
Sanders’ younger brother, King Alcardon Sanders, showed flashes of greatness, hurdling the line on one carry and effectively shadowing Kymani Jones throughout the night
NORTON 35, FIELD 0
By Sara Welch
Norton head coach John Tanksley on the improved secondary grabbing three interceptions:
“That’s something that we’ve worked very hard for. Our DBs have really hurt us in our two losses. Those were basically the reasons we lost games, so we changed a few things. We put some other people in and we have some kids going both ways now that we put back there to solidify that and they did a great job tonight of responding. It’s going to be tough for the rest of the league to throw on us because of who we have in there. They stepped up.”
Tanksley on Norton’s team mentality and ability to rebound:
“We’ve been like that all season and it’s been great to have that unity. That’s really what’s kept us together, kept us going. A lot of teams when they lose a couple games they kind of fall apart because they’re not cohesive. We’re extremely cohesive.”
CRESTWOOD 48, NORTHWEST 14
By Stan Zalewski
Crestwood senior Michael Picone made his presence known in all three facets of the game. Offensively, he scored a 20-yard touchdown in the second half. Defensively, he was disruptive all over the field. But his biggest play of the night came on special teams. After the Red Devils defense forced a three-and-out midway through the second quarter, Northwest sent out its punting unit near its own 30 yard-line. From an edge rusher spot, Picone sprinted into the backfield and dove in front of the punter just as he dropped the ball to kick it. The ball then ricocheted off of Picone’s outstretched arms and down the field, where the Red Devils would recover it at the six-yard line.
However, the Crestwood offense was unable to capitalize, instead fumbling away the ball on the subsequent third down.
“I sure wish we would have scored, but that was a tremendous effort by Mike,” Crestwood coach Pete Thompson said, “That wasn’t a called block. We let him make his own decision off the edge. If he thinks that he can get it, he goes after it.”
The Northwest offense fell victim to the turnover bug early and often with three fumbles (two lost) and three interceptions. However, the Red Devils would only be able to capitalize off of two late interceptions that merely added to the margin of victory for Crestwood.
The lone bright spot for Northwest was sophomore quarterback Luke Fennell’s two touchdown passes of 60 and 18 yards to senior receiver Nasir Martin. The scores were overshadowed by a number of drops by the Indians offense, resulting in the dismal passing numbers of 6-of-24 for 102 yards.
AURORA 42, ROOSEVELT 7
By Eric Clutter
The Rough Riders’ 0-4 start is the school’s worst to begin a year since the 2007 campaign when they dropped their first seven games en route to a 3-7 finish. Roosevelt also had slow starts in ‘04 (0-5), ‘02 (0-6) and ‘01 (0-4). During the ‘01 season which ended with a 2-8 mark, the Rough Riders lost their first four games by a combined score of 112-13 with two shutouts. So far this year, the team has been outscored 143-21 and has also been blanked twice.
A contributing factor to Roosevelt’s struggles has been turnovers. Through four games, the team has given the ball away 12 times (seven interceptions, five fumbles) while only causing five turnovers (three fumbles, two interceptions). Against Aurora, the Rough Riders lost a fumble on the opening kickoff which led to a quick 7-0 lead for the Greenmen. Roosevelt responded later in the first quarter by taking advantage of a botched snap on a punt deep in Aurora territory. Travis Verh tackled punter Gavin Blunt at the 4, setting up Nathan Jones’ short scoring run one play later.
Roosevelt did a solid job against the Aurora run, limiting the Greenmen to 140 yards in 38 attempts. A week earlier in a win over Twinsburg, Aurora amassed 317 rushing yards. This was one positive Rough Riders head coach Tim King saw from his team’s effort:
“I was really proud of our attitude,” said the third-year coach. “It’s tough coming off a home loss to your arch-rival and opening up league play against one of the defending league champs here. Our guys came out and worked their tails off to get better. We didn’t miss a beat, and I believe despite the outcome on the scoreboard, we got better as a football team and will continue to get better week in and week out.”
Aurora quarterback Mac Austin finished 13-of-23 for 192 yards with one TD and one interception.
The Greenmen completed a perfect three-game road trip following an opening-week home loss to Solon. Next week, Aurora hosts improved Barberton.