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Hoover 14 - Canton GlenOak 10

October 18, 2008

It’s all Howard in Hoover win

Bruising back carries Vikings to share of league title

Todd Porter, Canton Repository

NORTH CANTON When Hoover High School football head coach Don Hertler Jr. looks at his play sheet, it doesn’t read: “Erick Howard left, Erick Howard right, Erick Howard up the middle, Erick Howard fill in the blank.” Hertler produced documented proof he calls actual plays with code numbers. 

He kept calling Howard’s number, and the Vikings kept the ball almost the entire second half in a 14-10 win against GlenOak. 

Hertler uses the same coaches’ gobbledygook for plays, but the only number that mattered Friday night at Memorial Stadium was No. 5. Howard carried the ball 32 times — after carrying it 39 last week against McKinley — and he is carrying his Hoover teammates across the Federal League finish line. 

The Vikings dominated the second half of a game chock-full of league title implication. With the game on the line, the ball was safe in Howard’s large, bulging arms. 

The win clinches no less than a tie for the Federal League championship.

A win next week over rival Jackson would clinch it outright. 

“Everyone puts the whole world up there to try to stop him, and we put the whole world in there to block for him,” Hertler said. “Erick is a tough hombre.” 

Howard gained 182 yards, scored a touchdown, then doubled up duty at linebacker. 

No play may have been bigger — not just Friday night but all season — than Howard’s 21-yard catch on third-and-17 from the Hoover 42. 

Quarterback Brett Tulodzieski eluded a sack after he rolled right. Then he threw across the field to Howard, running a wheel route, along the left sideline. A GlenOak defender mistimed his jump, and Howard came down with it. 

“I was a little surprised I caught it,” Howard said, “because I lost it in the lights. Then I felt it hit my arm, and I just hugged it.” 

“That was a huge play,” Hertler said. 

Eight plays later, Howard — who else? — bounced off or juked three GlenOak defenders for a 9-yard touchdown run and a 14-10 lead with nine minutes to play. 

The Golden Eagles seemed to have plenty of time to regain the lead, but their third three-and-out of the second half was their last possession. Howard carried on 14 of the next 16 plays as the clock ran out. 

“I do get tired, but the adrenaline kicks in and keeps me going,” Howard said. 

Howard was inadvertently tackled about 5 yards deep in the end zone on his TD run. That seemed to fuel his fire for the stretch run. 

“It depends on how much trash they talk,” Howard said when asked if he enjoys being a punishing runner. “If they want to get physical, I get physical, and we’ll see who breaks first.” 

GlenOak controlled much of the first half. On their first possession, the Golden Eagles marched down the field, running and throwing the ball equally well. It looked easy when Collin Daniels-Mitchell followed the lead blocks of Spyro Spondyl and Adam Garman into the end zone for a quick 7-0 lead. 

But problems in the punting game — high snaps led to 10-yard and 18-yard punts — helped Hoover get back into the game. The Vikings, set up at GlenOak’s 28 after a short punt, scored on a 5-yard pass from Tulodzieski to A.J. Sarbaugh to tie the game. 

GlenOak’s final points came from the foot of Adam Lautzenheiser on a 25-yard field goal. The offense was shut down in the second half, and Hoover’s offense looked like a meticulously wound clock just eating time. 

“They converted four big third-down plays,” GlenOak head coach Scott Garcia said. “They have a big back, and they controlled the clock with their big back. … (Howard) turns a 1-yard loss into a 3-yard gain. Backs like that get stronger as the game goes on, and that wears on you.” 

GlenOak, Garcia admitted, is a program that’s turning the corner. But it has learn how to win the big game. 

Hoover, however, expects to be in this kind of game in Week 9. It just seems to always work out that way. 

“First of all, we didn’t expect to be here when the season started,” Hertler said. “But because we’ve been here before, maybe that experience was the difference tonight.” 

It could be.

Or it might have been No. 5. (1)

Game Notes: The Vikings controlled the ball most the game, allowing the 9th ranked GlenOak Eagles to run just nine total plays in the second half in front of a sellout crowd of 8,000.

The Hoover defense delivered another outstanding performance shutting down the vaunted GlenOak offense the entire game with the exception of the first GlenOak drive which covered 75 yards resulting in a TD. GlenOak’s offense was shut down the remainder of the game only advancing 86 yards the remaining 3 1/2 quarters.

Hoover’s offensive line and fullbacks Mike Kohler and Brooks Bukowy dominated the line of scrimmage providing space for Erick Howard to do his thing. Erick ran like a man on a mission. He showed great emotion and dished out punishment to would be tacklers. (2)


(1) fridaynightohio.com

(2) Webmaster, hoovervikingsfootball.com