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Hoover 17 - Canton McKinley 7

September 15, 2007

Emotional victory for Vikings

Chris Beaven, Canton Repository

NORTH CANTON More emotion did wonders for the Hoover High School football team Friday night. 

The Vikings came out fired up, jumped ahead early, and beat McKinley, 17-7, in front of more than 8,000 at North Canton Memorial Stadium. 

Hoover (3-1) won its Federal League opener, bouncing back from last week’s loss at Louisville. McKinley fell to 0-4 for the first time since 1924. 

Sophomore tailback Erick Howard led the Vikings with 143 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries. A number of Vikings made big defensive plays, led by hard-hitting linebacker Kevin Dahl. 

“It was a great team effort,” Hoover coach Don Hertler Jr. said. “We played with emotion, and we played hard.

That’s the way we have to play. We’re not talented enough, we’re not good enough to not play with emotion.” 

Hertler saw that emotion from his Vikings in practices. 

“It’s the best week of practice we’ve had all year,” Hertler said. “And you play how you practice. We stepped it up to a higher level, and you have to against a tradition like McKinley’s.” 

McKinley’s tradition is virtually unmatched by anyone, anywhere. But this season is developing unlike almost any other for the two-time defending league champs. 

Inexperience at key positions has caused them problems the last three weeks, though, their coach was encouraged Friday. 

“I thought we took a big step by just playing physical football,” McKinley head coach Brian Cross said. “We played hard, and I couldn’t be any more proud of them.” 

Hoover quickly took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. 

The Vikings established Howard on the first drive, giving it to him nine times for 41 yards. He scored on a 4-yard run at 5:46 of the first. 

“We knew we had to run it to be successful,” Hertler said. 

Jared Wackerly added a 12-yard completion to Dan Nettleton to convert a fourth-and-2 from the McKinley 27. 

Hoover led 10-0 after a 24-yard field goal by Matt Wakulchik. Mitch Rose intercepted a pass to set it up. 

“Getting 10 points out of the gate and taking control early was big,” Hertler said. “Our kids blocked well and Jared (Wackerly) hit some great passes early.” 

McKinley entered the final 90 seconds of the half with no first downs. Two late first downs put the Bulldogs into Hoover territory before two sacks by James Georgiades ended that drive. 

McKinley had chances to score in the third quarter, twice driving deep into Hoover territory. Interceptions by Nettleton and Jeff Meek ended each drive. 

After the second pick, Hoover took over at its 41 and extended its lead. Wackerly hit Rose, the fullback, with a quick pass to the right for 14 yards. Two plays later, Howard took off through a hole and scored on a 44-yard run. Receivers Greg Beck and Wakulchik delivered downfield blocks to pave the way. 

Junior tailback Monterae Williams keyed a late TD drive by the Bulldogs, scoring on a 22-yard pass from Jordan Evans. Williams finished with 48 yards rushing and 31 receiving. Junior tailback Steve Gardner rushed for 62 yards and had 42 receiving. 

“Give McKinley credit,” Hertler said. “Their kids played hard … and they made us earn it.” 

Cross said his team has to “keep battling.” The Vikings must do the same. 

“We’ve got to improve each week to get where we want to get,” Hertler said. “We’ve got a long ways to go.” 

Source: fridaynightohio.com