Brunswick 21 - Hoover 14Division 1 Regional Final
November 18, 2007
Hoover’s amazing run ends
Chris Beaven, Canton Repository
PARMA It took a while for James Georgiades, Kevin Dahl and Matt Wakulchik to walk off the football field Saturday night.
The three Hoover High School seniors didn’t want a memorable season to end this way — with a 24-17 loss to Brunswick in the Division I regional finals.
They wandered briefly in no particular direction. They stopped to talk quietly with coaches. They hugged other coaches.
Finally, they made their way off Byers Field and accepted that their dreams of a state title had ended.
“These are the best people I’ve ever been around,” Georgiades said.
Hoover had created quite a playoff run with overtime wins the previous two weeks to reach a regional final for the first time since 2001.
But early mistakes led to a 14-0 deficit, and a big play late doomed the Vikings (10-3).
“We battled until the end,” Hoover head coach Don Hertler Jr. said. “They just made a couple more plays than we did, and they were a little better than us tonight.”
Still, thoughts of another dramatic finish filled their heads when the Vikings scored to pull within a touchdown with 4:12 left in the game. But Brunswick (13-0) recovered Hoover’s ensuing on-side kick attempt and ran out the clock.
“I thought the whole time we’d win it or take it into overtime and win it there,” Georgiades said.
Hoover’s hopes were ended by a four-play sequence midway through the final quarter. The Vikings, trailing 17-10, had a second-and-goal at the 1.
After losing 9 yards the next two plays, they faced fourth down from the 10. The Vikings went for it, and Jared Wackerly tried to hit Dahl in the right corner of the end zone. Brunswick cornerback Andrew Slimak got a hand on the ball, and Dahl made the catch out of bounds.
On the next play — after a Hoover penalty and then a Brunswick penalty — Blue Devils senior receiver Chris Scott took an end around to the right and broke loose for an 88-yard touchdown run. Brunswick had a 24-10 lead with 6:28 left.
“I don’t know if we let up or the guy was just fast,” Hertler said
Hoover answered with a 64-yard TD drive. Wackerly, under heavy pressure, lofted a 19-yard TD pass into the back of the end zone where Matt Wakulchik made a diving catch with 4:12 left.
But the Vikings never got the ball back.
The night began with Hoover’s offense driving and looking to take charge early. Instead, Slimak intercepted a pass and ran it back 91 yards for a touchdown.
The downward spiral continued for the Vikings when they had a punt blocked. Brunswick took over at the Hoover 21 and scored in four plays for a 14-0 lead.
The defense kept the Vikings in the game. They limited 3,000-yard passer Sean Bedevelsky to 69 yards passing. Georgiades made two sacks, Dahl had one and Greg Tischler and Dom Boyle combined for a fourth.
“We just came out with an attitude,” Georgiades said.
Hoover got within 14-7 late in the half.
After gaining 37 yards on their first five possessions, the Vikings went 45 yards in three plays to cut the lead in half. Wackerly connected with Greg Beck for a 32 yards over the middle, then scrambled for 3 yards before Phillip Howard scored on a 9-yard run.
Playing in place of his injured younger brother Erick, Phillip rushed for 99 yards and had 65 yards receiving. He ran for 52 yards on 11 carries on the first drive of the second half to set up a 30-yard field goal by Wakulchik, cutting the deficit to 14-10.
But Hoover could not get closer. Bedevelsky did enough running the ball, rushing for 129 yards, to create just enough offense for Brunswick to hold off Hoover until Scott’s big run.
“I’m tremendously proud of the kids and the coaches,” Hertler said. “This group of kids took us on a great ride.”