By Ryan Kaczmarski
ROCKY RIVER came into Friday night’s homecoming game with the mind-set that it would control the line of scrimmage by recognizing the offensive line before the game even started, and control it they did.
The Pirates (4-3, 3-1 in the West Shore Conference) ran at will the entire game, controlling both the line of scrimmage and the clock in the 33-16 drubbing of visiting North Ridgeville.
“Our kids were ready to go,” Rocky River head coach Rick Adams said. “Homecoming being a special game, the seniors wanted to really prove that we are for real.”
Rangers head coach Jeff Riesen applauded the Pirates’ game plan and execution.
“Rocky River came to play (tonight),” he said. “It was their hall of fame night and it was their homecoming; simple and plain, their kids came out and played really hard, tough and physical football.
“They ran the ball effectively against us.”
Rocky River opened the scoring in the game with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Keelan Boettcher to Bob Osborn to put the Pirates up 7-0, but North Ridgeville (1-6, 1-3 in the WSC) fought right back and took the Rangers’ only lead of the game on a 38-yard touchdown run by Zack Bowden and a Jason Lucas run for the two-point conversion, to go up 8-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Rocky River scored two offensive touchdowns in the second quarter, before Osborn put the game practically out of reach with a 95-yard interception return to give the Pirates a 27-8 halftime lead.
After another Pirates touchdown (PAT failed) made the score 33-8, the Rangers mounted a 15-play 65-yard touchdown drive, capped by a 2-yard Paul Sonego run and a successful two-point conversion to make the final score 33-16.
Rocky River ran a no-huddle offense for most of the game, which kept the Rangers defense on its heels.
“We’ve been running (the no-huddle) all year,” Adams said. “We tried to change the tempo a little bit, because I think we got a little stagnant. The o-line fired off the ball and opened up big holes.
“At times we never really had to throw the ball, because our offensive line was doing a great job, our backs were hitting the holes hard and doing a great job.”
“I really think it was their offensive line (tonight),” Riesen said. “In the beginning of the game I thought I heard the announcer say that the linemen were leading the team onto the field. That was done purposely by (Adams) to recognize those kids, and they took the challenge. They took it to heart and they beat us on our defensive line with their offensive line.
“They ran the ball too effectively.”
“This year, our wins have been because of our offensive line,” he said. “When they can control the line of scrimmage, you’re going to be successful.”
Rocky River will travel to Bay on Friday at 7 p.m., and Adams knows the Rockets are not a team to look past.
“Every game has been important for us,” he said. “After last season – which was a down year for us – I think our kids have something to prove to a lot of these teams. It’s been a big season fur us (this year) to prove our worth.”
AROUND THE WESTSHORE
LUTHERAN WEST (3-4, 2-2 in the Patriot Athletic Conference) fell to the Columbia Raiders 16-14.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Longhorns took advantage of great field position set up by its defense. It took Lutheran West only five plays to score on an 11-yard strike from Greg Kunze to junior tight end Aaron Geye. Andrew O’Hara kicked the extra point and the Longhorns took a 7-0 lead into halftime.
The Raiders put together a 10-play 80-yard drive in the middle of the third quarter to tie the score at 7-7. Tristen Rindfleisch scored on a four-yard run. The game was tied at the end of the third quarter.
Lutheran West fought back with a 13-play drive that, once again, ended in a touchdown pass from Kunze. He hit senior tight end Tyler Cerny with a four-yard strike and the Longhorns led 14-7 with eight minutes to play. It was Kunze’s eighth touchdown pass of the season.
Columbia came right back again with another long drive that was culminated in a four-yard scoring run by Jacob Kleinhenz. The extra point hit the left upright and the Longhorns held the lead 14-13.
However, the lead was short lived. After a Lutheran West punt, Columbia marched into Longhorn territory as the game ticked down to its final seconds. Raider kicker Matt Zelinsky booted a 22-yard field goal with no time left on the clock to escape with a 16-14 win for Columbia and send the Homecoming crowd away disappointed.
“We are proud of our effort tonight-we just came up a little short,” Longhorns head coach Dave Stupka said. “Our players will have the resolve to come back next week and keep fighting.
“We give credit to Columbia-they made some great plays to pull out the win.”
The Longhorns travel to play Clearview (5-2, 3-1 in the PAC) on Friday at 7 p.m.
NORTH OLMSTED (5-2, 2-2 in the Southwestern Conference) defeated Midpark 28-6.
The Eagles were ledby senior running back Michael Starcovic, who carried the ball 16 times for 112 yards and two touchdowns. The North Olmsted defense held the Meteors to negative yardage rushing in the game.
The Eagles travel to Berea on Friday at 7 p.m.
LAKEWOOD (3-4, 2-2 in the WSC) defeated BAY (2-5, 0-4 in the WSC) 24-8.
The Rangers play host to Midview on Friday at 7 p.m., while Bay hosts Rocky River Friday at 7 p.m.
FAIRVIEW (2-5, 2-2 in the PAC) trounced Brooklyn 55-20. The Warriors were led by quarterback Jason Kish, who threw for two touchdowns and rushed for a third.
Fairview hosts Oberlin on Friday at 7 p.m.
OLMSTED FALLS (0-7, 0-4 in the SWC) lost to Berea 40-21. The Bulldogs play at home against Amherst on Friday at 7 p.m.
West Shore Conference Standings
1. Avon 3-0 (5-1); 2. Midview 3-1 (6-1); 3. Rocky River 3-1 (4-3); 4. Elyria Catholic 2-2 (4-3); 5. Lakewood 2-2 (3-4); 6. North Ridgeville 1-3 (1-6); 7. Vermilion 1-3 (2-5); 8. Bay 0-4 (2-5)
Southwestern Conference Standings
1. Brecksville 4-0 (4-3); 2. Westlake 3-1 (6-1); 3. Avon Lake 3-1 (5-2); 4. North Olmsted 2-2 (5-2); 5.Midpark 2-2 (5-2); 6. Berea 1-3 (3-4); 6. Amherst 1-3 (2-5); 8. Olmsted Falls 0-4 (0-7)
Patriot Athletic League (Stripes Division) Standings
1. Columbia 4-0 (6-1); 2. Clearview 3-1 (5-2); 3. Oberlin 2-2 (5-2); 3. Lutheran West 2-2 (3-4); 3. Fairview 2-2 (2-5); 6. Brooklyn 0-4 (0-7)