Hoover 34 - District of Columbia Calvin Coolidge 6
August 28, 2009
Hoover rolls over D.C. team in opener
Chris Beaven, Canton Repository
NORTH CANTON An hour before kickoff Friday, AC/DC’s “Back in Black” ripped through the speakers at North Canton Memorial Stadium.
On the field, the black-clad Hoover Vikings bounced around, yelling, slamming into each other and slapping helmets. They couldn’t wait for the 2009 high school football season to start.
They’ll wait another week to play a full game.
But in Friday night’s abbreviated opener — before Mother Nature supplied a light show worthy of an AC/DC concert — the Vikings did enough to put away visiting
Washington, D.C., Coolidge, 34-6.
Thunder and lightning stopped the game after the third play off the second half, a 49-yard catch and run by Coolidge tight end Michael Oliver. Twenty-five minutes later, the game was called off.
“This is a first,” Hoover head coach Don Hertler Jr. said. “We’d been here all night if we tried to wait it out.”
One half was enough time for Hoover senior tailback Erick Howard to dominate, while the Viking defense was solid. It also gave Hertler enough to like and dislike several things about his team heading into a Week 2 showdown at Louisville.
“It would’ve been nice to play the second for conditioning reasons and because they had a drive going,” Hertler said. “I’d like to have seen how we responded to them driving the ball.
I wanted to see what our defense would do there.
“We were pretty solid defensively. But we made way too many mistakes offensively, too many penalties, and we laid the ball on the ground too much. We’ve got a lot to work on for next week.”
The Vikings fumbled three snaps and had several nice plays wiped out by penalties. The limited time also prevented Hoover from doing much in the passing game.
“I would’ve liked to have worked on that more before next week,” Hertler said.
Still, Hoover did enough to look like a team pursuing a third straight Federal League title with hopes of advancing beyond last year’s limits — the state semifinals.
Howard, the reigning Mr. Football in Ohio, ran for 137 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries. He finished with 247 all-purpose yards on 20 touches.
“He’s got to get himself in game shape like all of our guys,” Hertler said. “But when we gave him a seam, he ran pretty well.”
Senior quarterback Brett Tulodzieski added two TD passes.
Aside from allowing two big plays, Hoover’s defense did its job. J.C. Everett came up with an interception and Jeff Bikis had a sack.
Howard needed no time to get warmed up. His first touch of the season — on the opening kickoff — turned into a 53-yard return down the left sideline to the Coolidge 32. He followed that with runs of 19, 7 and 6 yards, the final carry resulting in a touchdown.
When Hoover’s Ben Gardner recovered a fumbled punt return at the Coolidge 31 several minutes later, Howard soon found himself back in the end zone. He scored on a 10-yard give to the left, sidestepping two defenders, shedding a third and carrying a fourth across the goal line.
Coolidge came back with two big plays — a long kickoff return followed by Avery Williams’ 47-yard TD run. But any hopes of the Cougars keeping it close soon faded. It took the Vikings less than four minutes to answer with another score.
Howard’s 32-yard kickoff return and 21-yard reception on a screen pass put them in the red zone. Tulodzieski’s 9-yard TD pass to Justin Simm on a play-action rollout to the left put Hoover ahead 20-6 with 1:23 left in the first quarter.
Howard scored his third TD late in the second quarter on a 13-yard run around right end. Tulodzieski added a TD pass in the final minute of the half, throwing a 47-yarder to Joey Housos down the left sideline.