Hoover 28 - Louisville 25
September 4, 2010
Hoover ends loss streak vs Louisville
Josh Weir, FridayNightOhio.com
NORTH CANTON After watching his young football team grow up a little and exorcise some demons against a big rival, Don Hertler Jr. tried to keep the situation in perspective.
“It’s just a step,” the Hoover High School football coach said Friday night, before adding with a smile, “a big step, though.”
The Vikings ended their three-game losing streak to Louisville and moved to 2-0 on the season with a 28-25 win at Memorial Stadium.
Hertler is a big-picture guy, so he’s not going to get too excited. But he liked the big plays in the passing game and the zero turnovers. He liked the solid work of his defense and special teams.
“We took some steps forward,” Hertler said. “… It was just an overall good, young team effort.”
They are young, full of underclassmen and returning only two starters from last year. Coming off a choppy performance in a win against a Canadian team last week, maybe the Vikings were still wondering about themselves.
“We keep believing in our system,” Hoover QB Austin Appleby said. “The coaches are pushing us hard. We just emphasize, ‘believe, believe, believe.’ ”
After watching Appleby throw, there’s a great reason to.
The 6-foot-5, 200-pound junior was calm in the pocket and went through his progressions. He threw with touch at times and dialed up the fastball when necessary, completing 13-of-27 passes for 197 yards and four touchdowns on a night the Vikings rushed for only 37 yards.
His receivers — Joe Housos, Eric LePage and Westin Zernechel — made big catches, along with tight end Jon Nutt, who caught two TD passes. Housos led with four catches for 63 yards and two TDs.
The Vikings offensive line held its own against Louisville’s pressure.
“It’s easy to do my job when the O-line does a good job like they did,” Appleby said. “I give them all the credit.”
Hoover totaled negative-9 yards of offense and 25 yards in penalties on its first two possessions. Despite great field position, Louisville got only 3 points.
The Vikings snapped out of their funk when Ryan Choong took a screen pass for 61 yards on third-and-long. Three plays later, Appleby found Nutt on an 8-yard TD pass. Suddenly the Vikings led, 7-3, late in the first quarter.
“We had them all bottled up, then all of a sudden they got the momentum,” Louisville head coach John DeMarco said, pointing to Choong’s play as the icebreaker. Choong had three catches for 81 yards.
Hoover was just getting warmed up. LePage returned a punt 28 yards to set up the Vikings. After Housos made a nice adjustment on a 25-yard reception, he ended the drive by catching a slant pass for a 4-yard TD.
The Vikings looked comfortable. Appleby had plenty of time to survey the field before finding Housos on a crossing pattern for an 18-yard TD later in the second quarter. Hoover led 21-3, and with Louisville’s offense stuck in neutral, the margin felt larger.
Louisville showed signs of life by taking the opening possession of the second half and scoring in six plays, finished by Chad Neff’s 25-yard TD run.
“We told them in the second half we had to play with more passion and play Louisville football,” DeMarco said.
The Leopards got their deficit to a single digits late it the game. But Hoover’s Jake Pepper jumped on the ensuing on-side and the Vikings ran out the clock.
Neff totaled 237 yards of offense, with 180 through the air. Mitch Sluss caught six passes for 56 yards. Lucas Poyser added 59 yards rushing on 10 carries and played an active middle linebacker.
Louisville defensive lineman Zac Whaley was taken off the field on a stretcher in the second quarter with a knee injury. No updates on his condition were available after the game.