Hoover 21 - Uniontown Lake 0
September 24, 2005
Hoover grounds out a shutout
Jim Thomas, Canton Repository
NORTH CANTON — Sophomore skill players Kevin Dahl and Matt Wakulchik had brilliant offensive performances in Hoover High School’s 21-0 shutout victory over visiting Lake on Friday night.
In his first varsity start, Dahl carried 23 times for 94 yards and two touchdowns and made several great plays from the defensive backfield and being credited with 9 stops.
Accompanying Dahl from the linebacker position was junior Jordan Bucar who posted eight stops, two for loss. “He (Bucar) has emerged as a defensive leader. He leads by action”, Hoover head coach Don Hertler Jr. said. “Last week against Boardman, he has a about dozen tackles and 3 sacks.”
Wakulchik broke the game open with a 52-yard punt return for a TD that included two broken tackles, knocked down three passes in the secondary and caught two others.
That said, the Vikings’ fourth win in five games and second in as many Federal League games, belonged to the offensive line, the defense and most of all, to the seniors.
“Everybody came through,” Hoover offensive tackle Caleb Cross said. “It was a great feeling that we were able to keep driving it.
“We kept them off the ball, and we ran the clock. It was great the way everyone came together with all our injuries.”
Tackles Cross and Zack Meleg, guards Ron Gnau and Andrew Sampsel and center Evan Merten — all seniors except Sampsel, a junior — made the running easy for Dahl.
They cleared a swath for him to score from a yard out in the first quarter and from the 5 in the third quarter.
They made life easy for Hoover quarterback Josh Nettleton, who threw three interceptions but made some key third-down conversions. They also made things extremely difficult on Lake.
“It didn’t matter who ran it,” said Blue Streaks head coach Jeff Durbin, whose team falls to 1-4 overall, 0-2 in the league. “They are pretty good up front. (Dahl) ran hard but, they’ve obviously got some depth there with the injuries they’ve had.”
Dahl, with six carries on the season, stepped in for injured back Seth Allman, and the offense never looked better. He carried 10 times on each of North Canton’s scoring drives, time-consuming, penalty-free possessions of 15 plays in the first quarter and 13 plays in the third period.
“I thought our offensive line controlled things pretty well,” Hoover head coach Don Hertler Jr. said. “(Dahl) ran hard. He started to run lower and get a feel for it. He gives us a pretty good back.”
Less than two minutes after Dahl’s first score, Wakulchik weaved through the Streaks’ punt coverage, bouncing off two defenders and rolling away from containment.
In Lake’s first six plays, it was three-and-out for minus-5 yards. The punt return was set up by a third-down sack by Hoover senior ends Zac Cochenour and Kyle Robbins, who hounded Lake quarterbacks Nick Higginbotham and T.J. Viscuso all game.
“I thought our two defensive ends (Kyle Robbins & Zac Cochenour) were outstanding,” Hertler said.
Hoover defensive back Kyle Feinberg picked Viscuso at the Vikings’ 30 with 1:17 left in the first half. The previous series, Lake wasted a scoring chance when Brad Enlow intercepted Nettleton, only to miss a field goal.
For the second straight game Lake failed to crack 100 yards of offense, netting 92 yards.
“The defense created three turnovers,” Durbin said, “and we couldn’t capitalize on them. We’re getting better, but we’re nowhere where we need to be with the competition we are seeing.”
“I thought (Lake) played tremendously hard on defense,” Hertler said. “They just don’t have the weapons they usually do.”
Hoover QB Josh Nettleton did not have to be the key to the offense in this week’s win. Sophomore RB Kevin Dahl, filling in for injured players, made his first varsity start and may not leave the backfield.
The key for the Vikings is their offensive line. Senior tackle Caleb Cross, senior tackle Zack Meleg, senior guard Ron Gnau, junior guard Andrew Sampsel and senior center Evan Merten.