Hoover 10 - Massillon Jackson 7
October 29, 2005
Hoover sports orange shoes, stops Jackson
Todd Porter, Canton Repository
NORTH CANTON – They pulled out all the tricks Friday night at Memorial Stadium. Not on the field, just off it.
On the field, North Canton Hoover High School went old-school.
The Vikings, seething for the last 365 days from a season-ending 34-0 loss to rival Jackson last season, wore orange shoes. They went retro with their play as well. North Canton can’t rely on great athletic talent, but the Vikings dug into a deep bag of toughness for a 10-7 win over Jackson.
The win likely puts the Vikings in the postseason.
No one really cared so much about the playoffs Friday night.
Hoover football was back.
“It’s been a tough, tough 365 days,” Hoover head coach Don Hertler Jr. said. “There was a lot of work. You can’t imagine how much work, but this is a work team.
I didn’t think we played hard last year. I thought we tanked it at the end. We regrouped as a staff.
We regrouped as a team. Sometimes, you’ve got to bottom out before you can come back. This group did it with guts and effort.
“It’s been a tough, tough 365 days,” Hoover head coach Don Hertler Jr. said. “There was a lot of work.
You can’t imagine how much work, but this is a work team. I didn’t think we played hard last year. I thought we tanked it at the end. We regrouped as a staff. We regrouped as a team. Sometimes, you’ve got to bottom out before you can come back. This group did it with guts and effort.
“I don’t know how many all-league players and all-county players we’ll have, but they played hard together.”
The orange shoes were a nice touch. The last time North Canton wore orange shoes, Hertler was the quarterback. His junior year, Hertler hatched the idea for the players to wear orange — head to toe — in 1979 and ’80. Both were wins.
Hertler’s old, orange, smelly Pumas were on display in the locker room. His team’s new attitude was as well.
“We got a hold of coach Hertler’s old shoes, and we want to get back to play that kind of football,” senior running back and defensive end Kyle Robbins said. “We did that tonight.”
Thanks to the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Robbins. Starting tailback Kevin Dahl left the game on a stretcher in the first quarter. He was slammed to the grass and his head took the brunt of the blow. School officials said it was precautionary, but when trainers removed his face mask and left his helmet on, it looked serious. Hertler said he thought Dahl had a concussion.
Dahl’s absence made room for Robbins. It also inspired the Vikings.
“Kyle would rather be a linebacker, but he’s an end. He’d rather be a tailback, but he’s been a fullback. He took over the game with his attitude,” Hertler said.
After North Canton took a 10-7 lead in the second quarter, Robbins’ running was important. He finished with close to 100 yards on 16 carries.
North Canton took the lead just before halftime. Seth Allman picked off a Jackson pass — one of three — with 2:41 left in the first half at the Polar Bear 31. Robbins accounted for 21 yards to the Jackson 10. Two plays later, quarterback Josh Nettleton hit Matt Wakulchik on a slant route that he turned into a touchdown.
The Vikings first score came on Alex Bojko’s 33-yard field goal in the first quarter. On the first play after the kick, Jackson answered.
Running back James Craven, who finished with 129 yards, broke off a 47-yard touchdown run. Craven did most of the work himself, running right and cutting down the left sideline. That was about all the offense Jackson could muster.
“That was a physical, tough football game,” Jackson head coach Phil Mauro said. “I thought they played great defense all night. The pick before halftime really hurt. I thought that was the difference.”
That, and North Canton’s pumpkin orange shoes.
And a new attitude.
The players were dirty. The coaches cold. The locker room smelled like musty gym socks. North Canton Hoover seemed in its element.