Seems like 2020 just can’t give us anything nice, can it?
Week 1 of the Ohio high school football season experienced nearly all the force Mother Nature could throw at it. Lightning delays and torrential downpours swept across the state, putting dampers on most of the area contests.
Indian Valley and Buckeye Trail never made it off the ground. Sandy Valley and Strasburg played arguably the longest first half the Inter-Valley Conference has seen in years. West Holmes and Mansfield Senior were less than a minute away from halftime.
Aside from those unfortunate circumstances, a few matchups made it to the final whistle, showing the resilience you’d expect from high school athletes hungry for a season amid the most bizarre circumstances.
Without further adieu, here are your Friday night scores and updates from the Tuscarawas Valley, brought to you by Parkway Quick Lane.
Dover 19, Louisville 10 (Thursday)
It wasn’t the Friday night lights to start 2020, rather than a Thursday grudge match between two opponents who had not met in the regular season since the 1990s.
The Tornadoes found themselves out front with less than five minutes left in the first, with quarterback Ayden Hall connecting with his favorite target, Nathan Ravine, on a 25-yard pass. It was the first of his two scores through the air, both of which ended up in the hands of Ravine.
Of Hall’s 155 yards passing, 125 went to Ravine. The chemistry between the two is undeniable.
But the real star could easily have been running back Jacob Hostetler, who totted the rock 24 times for 125 yards. While he did not score, he was instrumental in setting up both of Hall’s touchdown passes, along with a quarterback sneak score.
A weather delay that lasted around an hour put the evening on hold for both sides but didn’t waver the Tornado defense. Connor McGarry led the way with 11 tackles, while late interceptions from Will McCrate and Michael Beal.
The Leopards were led by sophomore running back Andrew Essik, who had an impressive 16 carry, 125-yard night. But inefficiencies plagued Lousiville, ultimately driving the close loss.
A Week 2 barnburner is expected, with the Tornadoes traveling East to face the perennial powerhouse Steubenville Big red.
New Philadelphia 40, Canton Central Catholic 7
The Quakers wasted little time establishing an identity after Baron May’s graduation.
The approach by head coach Matt Dennison should be taken with a grain of salt, given the harsh weather conditions that essentially forced an all-out ground attack. Even with the gameplan fairly obvious for both sides, it was New Philadelphia that completely dominated throughout.
Reise Meechan reeled off three touchdown runs. Logan Ortt scampered 97 yards for a score. Combined, at halftime, the pair had over 200 yards on 23 carries.
Impressive feats for sure, but there’s more to it than just shifty footwork. The Quaker offensive line simply dominated the point of attack from the first play.
Quarterback Caden O’Neill was not asked to put the ball in the air much at all, which could be a blessing in the long run. No turnovers for New Philadelphia means the first-time starter could have a confidence boost moving forward.
Maybe next week fans will get to see him sling it a little bit. Unless Ohio turns into a rainforest again right before kickoff.
Defensively, New Philadelphia smothered nearly every chance CCC had to muster any offense. Ortt followed up his full-field sprint on offense with a 58-yard pick to the house. Not bad for a guy who isn’t known to be a speedster. Drew Dummermuth grabbed an interception as well in the lopsided affair.
An interesting matchup is coming against Cambridge, a group that has struggled at times recently, but will be coming off a 24-20 win over an always stout Indian Creek team.
Malvern 15, Tusky Valley 0
Tusky Valley has faith in senior quarterback Tanner Phillips, and for good reason. That will not change after a rough first outing.
The Trojans found themselves behind in the first half following a picturesque back-corner throw by Derk Hutchinson, and played catchup from there, never finding much in terms of offense.
A handful of trips pushed the Hornet defense towards the shadow of their own goalpost, but stout defense kept the momentum on their side. Tristan Tesch, who has a knack for grinding out yards against the best defensive fronts around, was almost silent Friday, due to a swarming defense by Malvern.
The biggest correction for head coach Greg Dickerhoof will likely be along the offensive line, which struggled to give adequate time to Phillips. The weapons are there, so some quick fixing in the film room could turn things around.
Tusky Valley’s season gets no easier, with Ridgewood in West Lafayette up next.
Carrollton 28, Minerva 0
Second-year head coach Jim Tsilimos — second-year with the Warriors that is — challenged his offense in the offseason with making things easier on the defense. The Warriors were one of the better area teams holding opponents in check last year, but never found much when it came to putting the ball into the endzone.
On the surface, that might have been corrected, at least in some ways.
Neither side made much noise early on, failing to put up points in the first. Following that, Joey Beard set up an 11-yard score from Domanick Speelman with a 24-yard dash. Running back Chase Ohelstrom added his own score with a 49-yard sweep in the third quarter.
He led all ballcarriers with 80 yards, averaging 10 yards per touch. All told, Carrollton amassed 227 yards on the ground.
The passing hame even saw a little bit of life, with quarterback Like Warner connecting with Brock Smith on the sideline, who received a key block with some good cuts to pave the way to paydirt.
Defensively, the Warriors gave up just 44 yards, frustrating the Lions all night with a superior push upfront and sound pursuits to the ball.
The Marlington Dukes, fresh off a playoff appearance, are on deck for Carrollton next week.
Conotton Valley 41, Beallsville 0
In many ways, Conotton Valley was kept out of the playoffs by unfortunate circumstances. A tie should not be the way a team fighting for a playoff spot ends their season, especially when it ends being the difference between making the postseason or returning home.
But rules are rules, and the ones in place in West Virginia caused that very scenario.
That’s clearly behind the Rockets, who put on a clinic in football against Beallsville. New head coach Don Hertler Jr. has experience in premiere football programs in Ohio and gave a glimpse of what could be in store this year in Bowerston.
Evan Rice went 0-for-4 passing, but the lack of a passing game did little to hamper an opportunistic Conotton Valley squad, who put up six rushing scores. Rice had three, Maddox Walters had two and Ethan Mauge found the endzone once.
Walker led all players with 125 yards on 15 attempts.
Defensively, Mike Cottis led the way for the Rockets, with six tackles, along with three sacks. Garson Imes added a strip-sack of his own.
Conotton Valley returns home next Friday to take on Edison, a new opponent for the Rockets.
Sandy Valley 51, Strasburg 13
If you haven’t heard, quarterback Cam Blair and the Cardinal offense are poised for big things in 2020.
Blair went on a rampage in the first half, accounting for just one incompletion and racking up 175 yards and two touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Demetrius Evans earned both of those scores, causing problems all Friday [and Saturday] for the Tigers secondary.
In a classic Sandy Valley game, the Cardinals mixed the run game with play-action passing, confounding the defense. All of their success wasn’t solely through the air, as running back Ben Petro earned a pair of touchdowns and nearly 100 yards.
Did we mention Mason Tucci put on a special teams show with two touchdowns?
The Cardinals will be one of the best teams in the area once again. That much remains certain.
As for Strasburg, things will come together in due time for head coach Curtis Metzger and company. Up next is an interesting pairing with the Malvern Hornets away, which could serve as a prime chance to get in the win column.
Sandy Valley will have one of their toughest tests in Indian Valley away next, which could go down as one of the best games of the year.
Indian Valley 49, Buckeye Trail 14
How do you know a night is going to go well? When your first play from scrimmage is a 91-yard touchdown run for your star running back.
Shane Thorton’s direct snap taken to the right side went the distance to open things up for the Braves, christening their newly constructed home. But, it wasn’t the senior ball carrier who stole the show, after he received limited work on the field and some attention from trainers on the sideline.
Mason Love looked sharp when trusted with throwing the ball, connecting with Trevor Myers for 51 yards on a beautifully placed ball down the Buckeye Trail sideline. He added some yards on the ground as well, methodically marching the offense.
But the star of the night certainly seemed to be Gavin Henry. Responsible for three touchdowns, Henry left his mark with his new team, often times utilziing shifty footwork to find open space.
The game was won in the trenches, with the Braves exerting dominance in that regard. If Thorton’s apparent injury ends up being someone more serious than meets the eye, fans can feel rest assured there will be someone waiting to step up, as evidence by Henry’s solid debut.
Newcomerstown 28, Claymont 14
It took quite some time for Newcomerstown to reach the winner’s circle, finally showing the hardwork and progress with a 5-5 record last year.
Things in 2020 could be trending in a similar direction, following a 28-14 win over Claymont.
The Trojans outgained the Mustangs 387-196, and, surprisingly, had some solid success in the passing game, with first-year quarterback Logan Hursey going 6-for-9 for 113 yards and a score. His lone touchdown went to Brandon Weber, with the two linking soon after the Saturday start on a 52-yard strike.
Ryan Miller picked up 129 yards on 27 carries, while Trenton Newkirk found the endzone twice with 128 yards.
The Mustangs certainly had their moments against a team who thumped them 55-21 last season.
While quarterback Kaedin Presutti completed less than 50 percent of his passes, he still accounted for two touchdown and over 100 yards. Hunter Heslop [five catches for 53 yards] and C.J. Watters [two catches for 22 yards] had each of the scoring receptions.
Two unfortunate timed turnovers hurt Claymont, who still hopes to find they groove after a rough 2019 season.
The Mustangs will need a quick regroup before facing Garaway next Friday. Newcomerstown draws East Canton, a game that resulted in a 7-0 defeat last year.
Garaway 35, East Canton 0
Jaydon Miller deserves massive props for a pair of second-half touchdown receptions, over 100 yards receiving and north of 20-yards per catch. But Garrett Newsome was certainly a man among boys on Saturday’s conclusion for the Pirates.
Totaling 378 yards with four scores, the senior quarterback’s night … well, weekend, was arguably the best.
Garaway outgained East Canton 445-36. They ran twice as many plays. Eight times more first downs were produced for the Pirates than Hornets. Those numbers are not a dig on the skill level of the team, instead showing just how dominant Sugarcreek’s favorite group can be.
Zach Bickford added a score on the ground as well, earning 40 yards on just two carries.
Garaway must now prove their first showing was not just a flash in the pan, as they are set to take on Claymont next, a team who has struggled against the Pirates in recent years.
West Holmes 56, Mansfield Senior 21
The West Holmes Knights were not the kind of team to make excuses when the injury bug bit hard in 2019. But fans are now getting a glimpse of just how costly a few banged up players ended up being.
Scoring offensively, defensively and on special teams, there was little left to the imagination when it came to how much talent is packed on the West Holmes roster.
Noah Clark could not be stopped, garnering 300 total yards and five scores. Brady Taylor had 131 yards and two scores on five catches, while Garret Eastep found the endzone with 92 yards.
The Tygers found early missteps to be their biggest downfall. Quarterback Brock Hill completed 50 percent of his passes for 257 yards and two total touchdowns, but the rest of the offense was quiet both Friday and Saturday.
The Knights are home next week with a favorable matchup against the Rams of Madison Comprehensive.
Ridgewood 33, TCC 7
Ridgewood’s Gabe Tingle sets the bar higher with each season, showing off his skillset against Tuscarawas Central Catholic.
The junior scored all five touchdowns for the Generals, amassing a ridiculous 349 total yards.
Wide receiver Dalton Patterson established himself as Tingle’s favorite target, putting up nearly 200 yards receiving with a score. Javan Belt added two touschdown receptions as well.
New Saints quarterback Tobi Grossi had a perfect dime to Ben Martin for the lone Saints score, but the offense sputtered, posting negative net rushing yards and mustering 124 through the air.
Penalty flags flew often for Ridgewood, who were guilty of 10 infractions, a small note head coach John Slusser will likely want to address quickly.
Ridgewood travels down the road to play Tusky Valley next week, while TCC meets Buckeye Trail at home.
Copyright WTUZ Radio Inc., 2020