Hoover 25 - Louisville 7
September 6, 2006
Hoover stays perfect — but in record only
Todd Porter, Canton Repository
NORTH CANTON – One final North Canton Hoover High School football player straggled about in the locker room. A teammate popped his head in.
“Hey, there’s a bunch of girls out here waiting on you,” he said.
Yes, even teams that win ugly get dates.
On a night when beauty was in the eye of the beholder, the Vikings didn’t have to look in the mirror. They won, no matter how pretty it wasn’t, 25-7 over Louisville at Memorial Stadium on Friday night.
“It was a team win, but it was an ugly win,” North Canton coach Don Hertler Jr. said with the kind of smile the cat had after eating the canary.
Hoover ran through two non-league opponents without much of a struggle, until Friday night.
The struggle was against themselves more so than Louisville.
The Vikings had nearly 120 more yards than the Leopards and almost 20 more plays. Yet, near the end of the third quarter, Louisville led 7-6.
A 4-yard North Canton punt set up the Leopards at the Hoover 16. Three plays later, Brandon Hostetler took an option pitch around the left, and Colin McLinden’s PAT gave Louisville the unlikely lead.
But the Vikings answered, and they kept answering in the fourth quarter. Seth Allman’s kickoff return set up the Vikings at their 44. A key third-and-11 pass interference penalty put North Canton on the Louisville 41. Then a brainy call — a third-and-7 trap play — that Scott Gnau took 14 yards ignited the Hoover sideline. Two plays later, quarterback Jared Wackerly threw a perfect lob pass in the end zone to Matt Wakulchik for a 15-yard score. North Canton led 12-7.
“The key was when they scored and took the lead, we came back and put two on them,” Hertler said. “That’s what you’ve got to do if you want to beat a good team.”
Louisville almost sneaked out of North Canton with a win. Instead, the Leopards threw two fourth-quarter interceptions that obliterated any comeback chance.
Hoover went up 19-7 after Kevin Dahl banged his way into the end zone from 2 yards out. That TD was set up by a second Wackerly-to-Wakulchik lob pass on third-and-9 that took the ball from the Louisville 18 to the 2.
Dahl sealed the win from his linebacker spot. He tipped a pass in the left flat to himself, then caught it and returned it to the Louisville 14. That didn’t end in a score, but it deflated the Leopards, who managed 57 yards rushing.
Allman’s pick in the fourth quarter led to a Dahl score that erased any thoughts of an upset.
“What we learned about ourselves tonight is we’ve got to get better in every phase of the game,” Hertler said. “I know our league is pretty darn good. We also learned you have to play four quarters of football.”
North Canton had no trouble scoring to start the game. The Vikings took the ball methodically downfield on a 12-play, 71-yard drive. Wackerly converted two third-and-long passes and was 6-of-7 for 41 yards.
The back-breaker came on an end-around in which Wackerly hid the ball well before handing to receiver Aaron Dodds. Eighteen yards later, Dodds was down at the Louisville 9. That set up a 7-yard touchdown run by Dahl for a 6-0 Hoover lead.
At halftime, the Vikings held a 172-46 advantage in yards, and 10 first downs to 3. Yet the Leopards were down just 6-0.
“We were fortunate to be down 6-0 at halftime,” Louisville head coach Paul Farrah said. “Our defense held them and made some plays in the first half. … Wakulchik is the real deal.”
The Hoover junior finished with five catches for 58 yards. Wackerly hit on 14-of-26 passes for 143 yards.
“This rivalry usually comes down to the team that has more athletes wins the game, and we just had a couple more players tonight,” Hertler said.
Hoover had drives at the Louisville 29, 18 and 38-yard lines without getting any points. The Vikings had a difficult time running the ball. Of their 172 yards, just 72 were on the ground.
“It was ugly, yes,” Hertler said. “But I’m not complaining. We’ve been 1-9 before, too.”
Led by senior DB Seth Allman and junior LB Kevin Dahl, Hoover’s defense held Louisville to 162 total yards.