It’s football season! I decided since I ended off last season with the Chardon Hilltoppers, why not start with them?
I knew getting ready to head to the game that it was going to be chilly. We headed off to Madison with long sleeves and hoodies, ready to watch some football! I had records and stats in hand and knew this was going to be an interesting game. Both teams have huge rushing yard stats. Both teams are known for their running game. Both teams have a defensive line that is made to stop the run. Chardon has a junior quarterback, Patrick Sullivan, who is known to keep the ball and create yards. Madison has a senior running back/safety, Brandon Davis, who is known to create yards also. This was going to be a battle of the PAC, and everyone was ready.
Madison won the toss and deferred the ball to Chardon. Chardon wasn’t able to do anything – yet. They punted the ball to Madison who was only able to return a few yards. The boys in white and red were ready to get that ball back. The defensive line forced Madison’s QB, Austin Burkholder, to throw the ball, and right there was Chardon’s #73; defensive lineman Mr. Max Mayco himself. He was ready to make an interception, and you had to be there to feel the excitement that followed.
Chardon had the ball and was ready to put points on the board. Zach Weiland snagged a 29 yard reception from Sullivan to get the boys in the red zone. Jordan Barrett finished it off with a 5 yard run to put the first points of the game on the board. Bobby Bukovec’s kick was good and the Toppers were up 7-0. The first quarter and Chardon weren’t over yet. Anthony Cantanzriti made the Blue Streaks pay for another passing attempt. He snagged the second interception of the game, running it in for a 52 yard touchdown! With a flip into the endzone, he put the next points on the board. Bukovec’s kick was good and Chardon was up 14-0.
Even though Madison was able to score 22 points in the second quarter, the Hilltopper boys never quit fighting. They made the Blue Streaks work for every point. Whether they were forcing the streaks to make mistakes in penalties or slamming the running game to a halt, they were not going down easy. It was time for halftime and time for the boys to refresh, get back on their feet, and regain that momentum. After Chardon’s marching band treated us all with a blast from the past featuring video games that most of us remember playing at arcades and on Atari, it was time to play the second half of football!
The third quarter didn’t produce much for either team. Both came out with fighting force as seen by the several punts that were executed. Cantanzriti became the highlight of the third with a 23 yard kickoff return. Justin Oh, and the other defensive players, held Madison to one touchdown.
The fourth quarter is where Chardon produced more points. Ben Cyvas moved the ball on the ground with runs from 1 yard to 12. With all of his work, Joe Connick made an 8 yard run to score the Hilltoppers’ third touchdown. Chardon went on to attempt an onside kick, which was successful. Chardon had great field position and was ready to make good of it. Michael Cardina made a great 28 yard reception right at the goal line and just in bounds with a defender on top of him. With that catch, he set up Cyvas to finish off the drive with a 2 yard touchdown run. They were unable to complete the two-point conversion, making the score 36-26, Madison. The Hilltoppers attempted another onside kick which they were unable to convert. Madison’s run team ate away the clock and put up the final points of the game.
Chardon may have lost that game this past Friday, but they didn’t go down without a fight. Justin Oh and Pete LeMaster fought hard on the defensive end. Joe Connick and Nick Mysyk fought on offense and special teams. Mysyk made a 28 yard return and Connick made a one handed catch. Don’t forget the stats of the season so far. Bobby Bukovec is ranked 4th in Northeast Ohio for the longest kickoff. Evan Hornyak is ranked 4th in Northeast Ohio for rushing yards. They have Sullivan who can create yards on the field with rushing, passing, and blocking. These are just a few of the Hilltoppers’ players who can make plays and points. This young team will be a fighting force as the season continues and following into next season. Next time you want to watch a team who never gives up no matter what, head to Chardon. Those boys will give you a show.
Watch the highlights from the game: