Hoover 38 - District of Columbia Dunbar 8
August 24, 2007
Hoover has anniversary to remember
Chris Beaven, Canton Repository
NORTH CANTON Give it some time before Don Hertler Jr. gets excited about his Hoover High School football team.
But as opening nights go – especially ones played in soaking humidity – the Vikings delivered.
Hoover celebrated the 60th anniversary of North Canton Memorial Stadium by beating Washington (D.C.) Dunbar, 38-8, Friday night in front of about 5,000 fans.
“You had to have some mental toughness to make it through tonight with that humidity,” Hertler said.
Quarterback Jared Wackerly delivered some big throws early before the running of tailback Erick Howard helped to close it out. And linebacker-tight end Kevin Dahl made an impact all night.
Not that Hertler was too impressed.
“We’ve got a long ways to go,” he said.
The Vikings rushed for 187 yards and passed for 184, outgaining their visitors 371-181.
Hoover’s first-string defense allowed just 112 yards over 31/2 quarters. Dunbar never picked up a rushing first down against the Viking starters, going 1-for-10 on third-down conversions.
“Our defense did a good job shutting them down until our offense got going,” Hertler said.
The Vikings put together a 68-yard touchdown drive on their second series. But they did not take total control until TD drives on their fourth and fifth possessions.
Wackerly, a senior, went 13-of-25 for 184 yards passing with two touchdowns. Matt Wakulchik and Dahl were his primary targets. Wakulchik made a 25-yard TD catch in the first half, set up by Dahl’s 53-yard catch and run.
Howard, a sophomore, rushed for 114 yards and two scores on 21 carries.
“They did what they had to do to get the ball to their playmakers, No. 85 (Wakulchik) and No. 5 (Howard),” Dunbar coach Craig Jefferies said. “And they adjusted well to some things we were doing and got the tight end (Dahl) a couple times.”
Dunbar, the defending city league champs from Washington, made a 61/2-hour bus trip.
The Crimson Tide have won eight league titles in Jefferies’ 12 years, and one of his former stars is Browns receiver Joshua Cribbs.
But with just one scrimmage under its belt and only a week and a half in pads, Dunbar is about a week behind Ohio teams. Jefferies did not want to hear excuses.
“The state of Ohio plays real good football across the board,” he said. “They played fundamental football tonight, and they executed well.”
Defensively, Dahl was all over – dropping quarterbacks, running backs and receivers alike – making 11 tackles, including two sacks and a tackle for loss.
“He played like a senior, and that’s what we need from him,” Hertler said. “He gave us a great spark. He held our defense together.”
Defensive end Greg Tischler also was active for a unit filled with new faces.
“You lose eight guys on defense, half your guys on offense, you don’t know what to expect,” Hertler said. “I was nervous…you’re always nervous about the unknown.”
Hertler knows his team has lot of work ahead, but it has something positive to build on.
“We’re a pretty average team now,” he said. “But it was a good opening game.”