Hoover 41 - Lexington 20
September 14, 2009
Hoover regains momentum headed into league opener
Chris Beaven, Canton Repository
Wait a few weeks before declaring the Hoover High School football team’s win Friday as a turning point to its season.
But as he watched his Vikings dig in and fight back for a 41-20 comeback win at Lexington, it quickly became apparent to head coach Don Hertler Jr. this
was no ordinary win.
“It was a very good team win on the road in a critical nonleague game,” Hertler said before practice Monday.
After losing at Louisville the previous week, there’s no way the Vikings wanted to enter the Federal League schedule on a two-game losing streak.
But that’s where they appeared to be headed when Lexington took a 20-7 lead into the final minutes of the first half. Then a nice kick return by Jordan Witt
after Lexington’s third touchdown jump-started the Viking comeback. They got a touchdown late in the first half and took over in the second half.
Erick Howard ended up rushing for 278 yards, and Brett Tulodzieski passed for 114 yards. The Hoover defense shut down an explosive Lexington offense on the other side of the ball.
“They did a great job, and they pulled together,” said Hertler, whose team is preparing for Friday’s 7:30 home game with Perry. “They didn’t separate when things got tough. We made some big plays, and we played harder in the second half. We handled adversity better than we did the previous week.”
The previous week, a poor second quarter doomed Hoover to a 34-13 loss in a showdown at Louisville. Hertler saw some fight from his Vikings that night, but not enough.
“We had more kids fight this week,” Hertler said. “Louisville is going to make you look bad because they’re very good. We had some kids who kept playing extremely hard against Louisville and some didn’t. We weren’t playing together as a unit. We were all just out there individually.
“I thought the kids played together better, did their jobs better and played through adversity better than they did the previous week.”
Twice — once late in the second quarter and again in the third — Hoover converted on fourth downs to keep drives alive. Hertler said it was about fourth-and-7 both times. Tulodzieski passed for a first down each time, hitting Joey Housos for 8 yards on one play and Dan Nettleton for 10 on the other.
Tulodzieski also made two big completions to tight end A.J. Sarbaugh, one going for a 39-yard touchdown.
“We’re better able to make plays downfield this year, and that’s one positive thing with our passing game,” Hertler said.
Still, Hertler sees plenty of room for improvement. Three first-half turnovers did not sit well with him. Neither did some foolish penalties.
“But we blocked and tackled better,” he said.
He credits those improvements to one thing:
“We had good week of practice last week,” Hertler said. “It’s going to be interesting to see this week how we practice. We’ve got to keep working to improve. If you don’t in this league, other people will improve, and they will pass you.”