Hoover 49 - Hudson 0Divison 1 Regional Quarterfinal
November 2, 2003
Hoover manhandles Hudson
Todd Porter, Canton Repository
NORTH CANTON A year ago, Sam Cerreta watched the graduating seniors leave the Hoover locker room for the last time, with tears in their eyes and disappointment on their faces.
Cerreta and a locker room full of his teammates were determined not to let history repeat itself.
A year after getting shut out by Massillon 30-0 in a first-round high school football home playoff game, North Canton Hoover now knows what it is like to be on the other side. Hudson brought a Band-Aid to a bloodbath Saturday night as the Vikings pounded the Explorers 49-0 in front of a sellout crowd of 8,000.
“I can surely say their speed was a hell of a lot scarier up close than it was on film,” Hudson head coach Tom Narducci said.
“The bottom line is we could not keep up with them. I felt good after that first series, like we’re gonna be able to play with them. Then the floodgates let loose, and I don’t think there was anything we could have done to stop the bleeding. It just kept on coming.”
North Canton had more than 500 yards in total offense and forced six Hudson turnovers. The Vikings are a perfect 11-0, a first in Hoover football history. They will play Wadsworth, a 41-14 winner of Green, on Saturday night.
The lopsided victory was quite a contrast to last season’s loss to Massillon in the first round.
“I was a little surprised by the score because Hudson is a great team,” said Cerreta, who passed for nearly 200 yards, threw three touchdown passes and ran for another. “I think we just came out fired up and ready to play. Our goal was to win because we didn’t want to be one and done like last year. This was our last game on this field as seniors, and it was important for us not to lose the last game because we wanted to give something back to our fans. They have been great all season.”
The Explorers’ only loss before Saturday night was to Jackson in the third week of the season. Narducci thought his team was ready for Hoover’s deceptive team speed.
“By far, by far were they the quickest team we played,” Narducci said. “We’ve seen good team speed for three weeks now, but not like this. They have speed in every spot.”
The Vikings exploited that advantage all night. North Canton threw to the H-back in the flat and looked down the field and found receivers open at will. Running backs Alex Ramsey and Mike Wright burst through the line of scrimmage and it was a coin flip whether or not they were going the distance from any spot on the field.
“If they weren’t getting us one way, they were getting us another,” Narducci said. “To Hoover’s credit, they gave us no margin for error.”
Early in the first quarter, the Viking defense forced a three-and-out series. The North Canton offense hit the field with high-octane on its second possession.
And the rout was on.
The Vikings struggled moving the ball on their first possession. After that, though, Hoover scored on the next four possessions, and did it rather efficiently. The Vikings needed just 22 plays to put up 28 points.
The game went from zero to blowout in less than two dozen plays. That’s like running a 3.5 40-yard time.
Wright scored the first touchdown on a 4-yard run. However, the Vikings had three big plays all on first down to get the ball to the Hudson 20. On the first play of the drive, Cerreta hit tight end Chris Zaluski for a 14-yard gain in the right flat. Then the senior quarterback zipped a pass to Kyle Watts for 12 yards. Ramsey, who finished with 122 yards, took a handoff out of the shotgun for 28 yards to the Explorers’ 20.
Three plays later, Wright gained 7 yards on third-and-1, and then carried on the next play for the score.
“It seems like no matter whose number is called, someone is there to make a play,” Cerreta said. “Someone always steps up, and it’s always a different player. That’s why it looks like there are no stars on this team.”
Hudson’s offense was shut down on the next series and had not gained a first down until the first quarter was nearly over. The Vikings were overwhelming on defense. This was the second shutout of the season, and the ninth time in 11 games Hoover’s defense has held the opposing offense to 7 points or less.
North Canton set up shop at its own 43 on its third possession. The Vikings needed just five plays to go 57 yards for the score. Wright took a counter play 17 yards to the Hudson 46 after Cerreta was sacked on first down. On second down, Ramsey rumbled 15 yards to the 31. Then Cerreta threw a strike to Brian Drukenbrod, who broke a tackle and then cut between two Hudson defenders inside the 10 for a 31-yard score. Andrew Dahl’s PAT kick made it 14-0.
Hudson’s spirit, however, was not broken … yet.
The Vikings were the benefactors of a Hudson fumble after a 25-yard pass play. Ramsey, who doubles as a linebacker, was in the right place at the right time when the ball was stripped. He recovered for the North Canton 47.
Cerreta was sacked on first down, but it wouldn’t matter. On third-and-12, he connected with Watts for a 17-yard gain to the Hudson 17. On the next play, Cerreta hit Zaluski for a short pass. But Zaluski eluded the initial tackle and turned up to file to make a short gain into a 38-yard touchdown.
Hudson tried to get something going and Narducci reached into his bag of trick on fourth-and-9. It was supposed to be a fake punt, but the snap hit the up-back in the chest and rolled to the ground. Hoover took over at the 50.
It was back to the offensive machine. Ramsey bit off 29 yards to get the ball to the 21. Wright ran for 12. Eventually, on third-and-goal from the Explorers’ 6, Cerreta, not known for his running ability, escaped being sacked twice, rolled right and took off around the right end for a 6-yard touchdown. It was 28-0.
With about four minute to play in the first half, Hudson was trying to mount a comeback. The Explorers were inside the North Canton 10 and attempted a pass.
Hoover safety Dan Gruber knocked the ball away at the 1 and Ramsey snatched the football before it hit the turf at the 3.
Hudson’s offense walked to the sideline with their heads down.
The game, for all intent and purpose, was over. The Vikings tacked on three more scores in the second half. It might as well have been six or seven by that point.
“I think our schedule was the difference,” Hoover head coach Don Hertler Jr. said. “Hudson was a good team, but I don’t think they were able to see the same kind of intensity level as we did play in and play out this season. We had a playoff-like atmosphere almost every week and tonight we just had too many players for them.”