Louisville 22 - Hoover 0
August 30, 2008
Leapin’ Leopards! Louisville hands Vikings rare shutout
Todd Porter, Canton Repository
NORTH CANTON Just as easily as the black paint smeared and dripped off Brandon Mathie’s face, the Louisville High School senior was worried his football team’s lead against North Canton Hoover may do the same.
At times, it was that fragile.
Mathie sounded like an overprotective father Friday night standing in an end zone that seemed tough to break for the Leopards and impossible for the Vikings. It took three quarters, but Louisville got going and blanked North Canton, 22-0.
It was just the third time the Vikings have been shut out under 13-year head coach Don Hertler Jr.
“This was a playoff atmosphere for both teams,” Louisville coach Paul Farrah said.
The only thing thicker than the humidity in the air was the tension. As the game crawled to a conclusion, this was a win that might’ve been closer than Louisville wanted.
North Canton, despite its offensive struggles, was one big play away from making it a game in the third quarter. That big play never came.
“That’s definitely something we talked about on the field,” Mathie said. “Erick Howard is a great running back, and we had to keep doing our jobs. Our defensive line and linebackers just clogged the line of scrimmage all night.”
The Leopards shut down Howard and forced the Vikings to win by the pass.
Louisville’s 5-3 defense is difficult to run against as it is. It’s impossible when the defense is out to make a statement.
“We didn’t want Erick Howard beating us,” Farrah said. “We were going to make them win in the air. If you beat us running the ball against our 5-3, then stick a fork in us, we’re history.”
Hoover threw three interceptions, including one that was picked off by Bob Swigert and returned 42 yards for a touchdown.
“That was huge,” Mathie said. “That got us going.”
It got the Leopards over the hump.
Louisville moved the ball between the 20s in the first half but had little to show for it. The Leopards were turned away once inside the Hoover 10, another time at the 30. They settled for a 30-yard Jaron Lohmeyer field goal on the first drive.
That 3-0 lead looked as if it would be the halftime score, and Hoover could consider itself fortunate. The Vikings struggled to move the ball in the first half.
Louisville got some breathing room from its defense. Mathie picked off a Vikings pass in the end zone to turn back one possible touchdown.
Late in the second quarter, Swigert intercepted a Joe Cerreta pass at the North Canton 44 and returned it. That made it 10-0, and it could have been worse.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Leopards recovered an onside kick, but Mathie fumbled a third-down catch, and Cerreta recovered.
“Their defense shut down our running game, and they just manned us up on the outside and said beat us if you can,” Hertler said. “We just got beat by a better team.”
The Leopards didn’t have much success running the ball, either. They managed 90 yards on the ground, while quarterback Neal Seaman threw for 157. He completed 12-of-20 for 157 passing yards and connected with Mathie and Jon Minster for TDs.
Hoover managed just 31 yards rushing but threw for 158. After Mathie’s interception in the end zone, Hoover never got inside Louisville’s 40 when it was still a game.
“The wheels fell off a little bit,” Hertler said.