What better way to kick off my season of writing about our great Geauga County high school football teams then to watch Kenston take on Chardon at their home opener? The weather was perfect, you could smell the BBQ and hear the laughter and cheer as fans were challenging each other in cornhole. After the Kickoff Classic, the stadium filled up and it was time to play some football!
The Chardon Hilltoppers were ready to to show the Kenston Bombers what their defense could do. The whistle blew and it was time for Drew McCartney to send the ball to Kenston’s receivers. With a short kick, Kenston’s Colin Kure jumped on the ball securing possession for his team. It was now time for the Bombers offense to hit the field. They fought hard but Chardon held them to 4th down and 1. The Bombers decided to go for the first down. Unfortunately, the ball was fumbled and Hilltopper’s Riley Thompson recovered it. Chardon couldn’t come up with anything so they were forced to punt. This time, Kenston took advantage. With decent field position, Parker Gdula sent the ball sailing 58 yards to Jeremy Wyers for a touchdown! The kick was good and now Chardon was ready to answer back. Patrick Sullivan got the yards rolling with a 23 yard run putting them past the midfield. Christian Ross finished it off with a 32 yard catch from Sullivan for a touchdown! The kick was good, tying the game 7-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Both teams battled hard during the second quarter. No points were put on the board but both defenses racked up the stats. Kenston’s Will Bush recovered a fumble and Chardon’s Riley Thompson snagged an interception. With multiple stops on both ends, they knew that when they hit the field after the half, it was time to let the offenses show what they could do.The final whistle of the half was blown and both teams hit the locker rooms to plan their second half.
Before the bands took their turn to entertain us, the announcement came about which school won the food drive. Before the game took place, Chardon and Kenston had a food drive challenge on which school could bring the most items. Chardon Hilltopper fans won the drive! Cheers all around for both schools on their donations! Both schools marching bands entertained us with music, dancing, and fight songs. The boys came out of their locker rooms and it was time for the second half.
Chardon was set to receive the second half kickoff. With a deep kick, the Hilltoppers had a lot of yards to make up. With some quick feet from Sullivan and Ross, they were able to pick up some yards. Now it was time for McCartney to put some points up. He went 48 yards deep to grab a touchdown pass from Sullivan. The point after was not good making the score 13-7 Hilltoppers. Both teams had their fair share of turnovers during the quarter. With the hot day coming down to a nice evening, the dew was causing a wet field and subsequently a wet ball. The defenses had a lot to handle, but from my point of view, they were doing well. With Kenston holding Chardon to one touchdown, the quarter came to an end and they were ready for the fourth quarter.
Again, this quarter came to the defense. With the Bomber’s Wyers stuffing the Hilltoppers on a 4th down and 1 yard to go forcing them to punt, you knew they were not going down without a fight. Even with Kenston’s hard hitting defensive line, Chardon was able to put another 6 points up with a 15 yard touchdown run from Joe Grippe. They weren’t able to complete the extra point making the score 19-7. That would be the last score of the game. That wasn’t the last effort though. Neither team let up.
The Bomber’s Zach Silberman kept his defense going. With him, Wyers, James Thigpen, and Will Bush, they will be a defense to reckon with. Don’t count out the offense either. Gdula has the ability to think outside the pocket. He can run, direct, and look downfield even with defenders on his heels. Jake Silberman has the ability to pick up the extra yards needed to convert a first down. I expect these boys to put some wins in the books.
As for Chardon, they have a quarterback that most teams fear. Sullivan can run the ball alongside any running back out there. He has an arm also for those times when a run just isn’t possible. Of course, he can not do it on his own. Ross has the speed and moves to cause some damage. Thompson, Sean Maroney, and Ben Cyvas are there to help out on the defensive end.
I cannot say more about how proud I am of both of these teams. They left everything on the field. Our teams played until the last whistle was blown. Yes, there had to be a winner on the scoreboard and this week it was Chardon. What both teams earned this week from me was respect. I was on the Kenston sideline and saw first hand how they put everything they had into that game. They made sure Chardon earned every point. Chardon did just that. They knew going in who their opponents were and that they had to work. The Hilltoppers were ready and took home the win. Hey, either way I look at it, it was a win for Geauga County. What better way to start off my season?
Next week we will be headed to Cardinal to watch them take on Waterloo! I’m looking forward to it and hope to see some of you there!
CLICK HERE to see the full album of photos from this game. Please tag yourselves or your friends.
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