Hoover 13 - Massillon Perry 7
September 13, 2003
Big plays help Hoover push past pesky Perry
Joe Frollo Jr., Canton Repository
PERRY TWP. The momentum had shifted. An unbeaten start was in jeopardy.
Needing a big play to push past Perry in a Federal League battle, Hoover came up with two of them.
Chad Coyle’s 46-yard kickoff return was followed shortly by Alex Ramsey’s 30-yard touchdown run to give the Vikings a 13-7 high school football victory in the conference opener for both teams.
Perry tied the game at 7-7 on Ray Siler’s 2-yard run midway through the fourth quarter, drawing even a game that was dominated statistically by the Vikings (4-0) but suddenly swinging the Panthers’ way.
With 5:31 remaining, Coyle took the ensuing kickoff at the 10, cut once to the left and was brought down at the Perry 44 by senior Joe Cerreta, the last player between Coyle and the end zone.
Ramsey carried over the right side for 11 yards before heading to the left for 3 more. Then, following a Ronnie Gnau block around the right side, Ramsey bounced off a small pile and outran everyone down the right sideline for the go-ahead score.
“I saw Ronnie’s block, made the cut, turned my legs, held the ball tight and saw that I could beat the safety to the outside,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey gained 117 of his 143 yards in the second half, carrying the ball on 21 of Hoover’s 28 plays. The 5-foot-8, 165-pound senior welcomed the workload.
“Coach told us at halftime that we were going to come out and play smash-mouthed football,” Ramsey said. “After Chad got that kickoff return, we were taking it in no matter what.”
The extra-point attempt failed when the holder could not handle the snap, leaving the door open for the Panthers.
But Perry went three-and-out, punting the ball back to Hoover. Ramsey ran seven straight times including a 4-yard run on fourth-and-1 to run out the clock.
“Great return, great run, our defense does the job, then we didn’t give the ball up,” Hoover head coach Don Hertler Jr. said. “(Alex) made some great runs for us.”
The Vikings scored on their first possession as senior wideout Kyle Watts outjumped two Perry defenders for a 25-yard touchdown catch with 9:42 to go in the first quarter.
“We ran a flood to the left side, and Sam (Cerreta) went up top and made a good throw,” Hertler said. “It was a great catch.”
Sam Cerreta completed all four of his passes for 45 yards during the drive, which got an early jumpstart from a late-hit penalty.
Cerreta and Watts hooked up six times for 102 yards. Watts also had a pair of sacks and a fumble recovery from his cornerback position.
Perry’s offense struggled against Hoover’s attacking defense, accounting for just 132 yards. But the Panthers’ defense and a few breaks kept them in the game.
Hoover had four cracks at the end zone from inside the Perry 3-yard line during a third-quarter position, but the Panthers turned the Vikings away. Hoover also missed a 27-yard field goal wide left and muffed the snap on a 32-yard attempt, spoiling first-half scoring opportunities.
Hertler said Hoover was fortunate to hold on after not being able to shake the Panthers.
“We can’t make the kind of mistakes we had,” Hertler said. “We have got to be able to put a few scores up there and put the game away.
“We are not athletic enough to come out and not play with emotion.”
Perry head coach Keith Wakefield also watched his team commit costly mistakes.
Illegal procedure penalties twice stalled Perry drives. A blown assignment led to one of Jon Andrews’ two sacks for Hoover, this one a 14-yard loss, that killed Perry’s deepest penetration of the first half.
“We’ve been our own worst enemy all year,” said Wakefield, whose team dropped to 2-2.
Wakefield was encouraged by his team’s ability to stay close to the 11th-ranked Vikings despite the mistakes.
“We found a few fighters tonight,” Wakefield said. “We didn’t win, but I’m encouraged because we seem to be heading in the right direction. I saw the essence of what we are trying to do.”