Canton McKinley 29 - Hoover 6
September 17, 2006
McKinley pulls away to beat Hoover, 29-6
Chris Beavens, Canton Repository
CANTON – A couple of unsung stars for the McKinley High School football team took advantage of playing in front of the season’s largest crowd Saturday night.
With 12,864 watching them perform in a battle of unbeatens, seniors Zack Campbell and Will Sheeler led the way in McKinley’s 29-6 win over Hoover.
Campbell made a career-high three field goals, including two to spark the Bulldogs (4-0, 2-0) in the first half.
Sheeler intercepted a career-high three passes, rushed for a season-high 115 yards and scored twice. He was the dominant performer of the second half, when he had 103 yards and both scores.
McKinley head coach Brian Cross was not surprised by either player.
“Maybe we shouldn’t, but we have those expectations of Zack, because he’s a four-year starter,” Cross said.
Campbell hit field goals of 43, 39 and 32 yards. The first one was a career long. He also had five touchbacks on kickoffs.
“He’s worked hard for four years to be the kicker he is,” Cross said. “I’m happy for him to have the type of success he’s having.”
Sheeler emerged as a varsity regular last year, making his biggest mark as a cornerback. That’s where he stood out at first Saturday, intercepting two first-half passes.
“We put him on their best wide receiver (Matt Wakulchik),” Cross said. “We wanted (Sheeler) to go with him all night long. We feel he’s a very good defensive corner for us.”
Sheeler nearly had four interceptions. He dropped what appeared to be a pick that would have gone for a TD when McKinley trailed 6-0 in the first quarter.
“I got a little too happy seeing the end zone,” Sheeler said. “I knew it was a matter of time before I’d get another one. But I wasn’t too happy on that one.”
Hoover head coach Don Hertler Jr. wasn’t too happy about his team’s inability to make big plays after a promising start. The Vikings (3-1, 0-1) drove 71 yards for a TD in just six plays. But they gained only 139 yards the rest of the way.
“You have to play really, really well and make some plays in order to play with them,” Hertler said. “We weren’t able to make any big plays. And their kicker was really big for them. He was able to stick the ball in the end zone (on kickoffs) and not let us get any field position.”
Phillip Howard scored on a 20-yard run to give Hoover its 6-0 lead. McKinley’s offense never managed more than one first down in any of its first-half possessions. But because of defense and special teams, the Bulldogs took a 13-6 lead.
Sheeler’s diving interception at the Hoover 41 led to Campbell’s 43-yard field goal with 55 seconds left in the first. The kick was a yard shy of the school record, as he bounced back from missing a field goal a week ago.
“It helped reinforce confidence in myself and my technique after last week,” Campbell said.
After a three-and-out by Hoover, the Bulldogs took over at the Vikings 39. McKinley picked up one first down before calling on Campbell again. This time he hit a 39-yarder with 9:15 left in the half.
“Any points on the board are good,” Campbell said. “Once we got those two field goals, it relaxed our special teams.”
Three minutes later, Disi Alexander blocked a Hoover punt, and the Bulldogs took over at the Viking 8.
“Disi had been getting close,” Campbell said. “That was a big turning point in the game. There was not much momentum for either team, and that really put the ball in our hands. And we did well with it.”
McKinley needed just two plays to score. Morgan Williams ran it in from 6 yards with 7:34 left in the half.
After a scoreless third quarter, McKinley entered the fourth quarter with a slim 13 – 6 lead. Hoover’s defense was bending, but not breaking. Hoover hoped to hold McKinley to 13 points. However, McKinley broke the game open in the final 12 minutes.
Hoover’s defense led by OLB Jordan Bucar (21 tackles), DB Matt Wakulchik (11 tackles) and MLB Kevin Dahl (9 tackles) did something no other defense has been able to do against Morgan Williams in his high school career. Hold Williams under 100 rushing yards in a game.
Campbell’s third field goal increased the lead to 16-7 with 11:19 left. Sheeler then added TD runs of 25 and 1 yard. He carried the ball 18 times, 15 in the second half to pick up the slack for Williams, who suffered an arm injury that Cross said did not appear serious.
“The line was getting good movement, and I was reading the holes through the fullback,” Sheeler said. “I told our line, ‘Just give me a crease, and I’ll do the rest.’ ”