Hoover 42 - Uniontown Lake 21
September 29, 2007
Hoover offense sends Vikings to top of Federal League
Chris Beaven, Canton Repository
NORTH CANTON They make it look way too easy. Jared Wackerly throwing the ball wherever he wants. Matt Wakulchik leaping over, diving under or running away from people to make catches. And Erick Howard battering defenders to churn out yards.
Once the Hoover High School football team kicks its offense into high gear, that’s what happens.
The Vikings did it again Friday, shifting into overdrive to blow past Lake, 42-21, at North Canton Memorial Stadium. A crowd of 8,000 watched the Vikings (5-1, 3-0) take sole possession of first place in the Federal League by gaining 417 yards.
“We’re just playing football,” Wackerly said.
Wackerly, a senior quarterback, accounted for 236 of the yards. He was 16-for-22 passing with four touchdowns. All four went Wakulchik. The senior made 11 catches for 165 yards.
If that wasn’t enough, Howard rushed for 182 yards on 33 carries, scoring two TDs.
The powerful sophomore gained 140 yards in the second half.
“When we’ve got everyone doing their job, it’s hard stopping us,”
HARD TO CATCH
It’s been impossible the last two weeks. Hoover has totaled 80 points and 908 yards, with Wackerly throwing for eight TDs, six to Wakulchik.
“Those two have worked together a long time,” Hoover head coach Don Hertler Jr. said. “And when we’re blocking people and we can run the ball, it opens everything else up for us.”
Doing the blocking were center Alex Huth, guards Kenny Moore and Dom Boyle, tackles James Georgiades and Tarek Nusseibeh, tight end Jason Draime and fullback Mitch Rose.
“I can’t say enough about them,” Wackerly said.
Many Hoover fans left the stadium looking for new ways to describe Wakulchik’s ability to make catches. He beat good coverage on scoring catches of 11, 11, 13 and 36 yards.
“I just let him go and get it,” Wackerly said.
Wakulchik’s final two TD catches put the game away after Lake (4-2, 2-2) had gotten within 28-21. Blue Streak quarterback T.J. Viscuso scored on an 8-yard scramble with 6:37 left to give them hope of a comeback.
“But we couldn’t contain Wakulchik, bottom line,” Lake head coach Jeff Durbin said.
Earlier in the second half, Howard was doing damage. After the teams combined for 355 yards and 23 first downs in playing to a 14-14 first-half tie, Hoover set the tone in the second half on the ground.
The Vikings gave it to Howard on seven straight plays. He gained 39 yards, putting the Vikings at the Lake 20. After an incomplete pass, Howard picked up 9 more yards on two runs. On the second run he converted a fourth-and-one by a yard with great second effort.
“I thought we’d probably mix it up more,” Hertler said. “But he was running so hard, fighting so hard, and he gives us such a personality.”
That set up Wackerly’s 11-yard TD pass to Wakulchik on the right side – a duplicate of their scoring pass at the end of the first half that tied the game.
The Vikings stepped up to make one of the biggest plays on the ensuing drive. The Blue Streaks, led by Gene Onabiyi (team-high 156 yards rushing), drove inside the Hoover 5. The drive stalled, as Hoover stopped Lake on a fourth-and-inches at the 3.
“We need to get that and score there to stay in the game,” Durbin said.
“Our defensive line stuffed it, and everybody played their heart out on that play,” Wakulchik said.
The Vikings then drove 97 yards to take a 28-14 lead. Howard got loose for 18 yards. Two Wackerly completions totaled 33 yards. Howard broke free for a 34-yard TD.
“It’s not plays, it’s players,” Hertler said. “These guys have worked hard, and right now our players are making plays.”