Hoover 21 - Boardman 14
eptember 23, 2006
Vikings use guts to get by Boardman
NORTH CANTON – A simple message on a piece of white athletic tape is the last thing they see before taking the field.
“Whatever it takes.”
The tape overlaps another piece of tape in a sort of makeshift Red Cross symbol, making it more fitting for the battered and bruised Hoover High School football team.
“That’s our team slogan,” Hoover players Scott Gnau and Jordan Bucar said almost in unison. Gnau put it on the locker room door two weeks ago, and it was written for nights such as Friday.
Since week one, Bucar has played with a neck sprain and arm numbness. Gnau has played with a dislocated shoulder. Both have played through the pain without complaints. They grit their teeth and pad up for each practice as if nothing is wrong. For weeks now, both Bucar and Gnau have received daily chiropractic treatments enabling them to practice. – “Whatever it takes.”
The Vikings sustained more injuries, but regrouped from a 14-point deficit to beat Boardman, 21-14, in front of more than 7,000 at North Canton Memorial Stadium. They received contributions from all over, including a freshman making his varsity debut, Erick Howard, filling in for the injured Kevin Dahl at middle linebacker.
“It’s a credit to the older kids for accepting him and trying to take him under their wing,” Hertler said. “Our kids want to win. They respect his ability and his attitude on the field.”
Helping the Vikings persevere were a number of senior standouts. OLB Scott Gnau, OLB Jordan Bucar, DE Neil Michaels, DB Seth Allman and DL Ken Staudinger were among those stepping up last week. But they were far from alone.
“Seven, eight kids stepped in and did the job,” Hertler said.
Among that group were guard-defensive tackle Kenny Moore, fullback Cory Hastings, defensive lineman Jon Georgiades, defensive lineman Kyle Hennis and defensive end Greg Tischler.
“A lot of people stepped up — two ways, one way, on special teams,” said Bucar, who was in on twelve tackles, two for loss and a sack from his outside linebacker position.
“Amazing,” said Gnau, the other outside linebacker and running back. “Coming back from a loss last week, we sucked it up majorly with all our injuries and illness. We needed it. We had to get back on track.”
Head coach Don Hertler Jr. jogged off the field with a proud smile.
“We had six guys not playing because of injuries and illness, then another guy goes out early,” Hertler said, referring to the loss of tailback Phillip Howard in the first half.
“So now we’re without seven players, and that’s 12 positions for us. It was just a guts win…a total team effort,” Hertler said.
It was an effort that seemed unlikely when Boardman dominated the first 14 1/2 minutes. The Spartans led, 14-0, behind effective short passes and a power running game. They had a 119-14 edge in total yards, but then gained just 53 yards the rest of the way.
Bucar said the coaches did a great job making adjustments, and the players executed. That included freshman linebacker Eric Howard, Phillip’s brother.
“Our freshman linebacker stepped up and played excellent,” Bucar said. “He helped stop the run. That took so much pressure off us at outside linebacker. And our defensive line played one of their best games.”
Erick Howard filled in at middle linebacker replacing the injured LB’s Kevin Dahl and Mitch Rose.
Offensively, quarterback Jared Wackerly and the passing game heated up in a hurry. Wackerly threw three touchdown passes over the final 9:27 of the first half. He hit 11 of 13 passes for 150 yards during that stretch, finding five receivers. Matt Wakulchik, Seth Allman and Gnau had multiple catches, while Cory Hastings and Jeff Meek had one each.
“We got the wind (at our back), and we got into a rhythm,” Hertler said. “We had protection, and Jared stepped in there and threw strikes.”
Wakulchik caught the first two TD passes, from 11 and 18 yards. Hoover’s defense set up the second one. Greg Tischler’s blind-side sack forced a fumble recovered by Neil Michaels at the 18.
Hoover took the lead when Wackerly threw a perfect deep pass down the left sideline. Allman ran under it in stride, falling into the end zone after he made the catch on the 40-yard play with 52 seconds left.
Hoover’s defense made the lead hold up, allowing just three second-half first downs. It wasn’t always pretty, but like Gnau said, “Whatever it takes.”