Hoover 24 - Canton McKinley 0
September 24, 2021
North Canton Hoover football breaks away from McKinley in biggest win of Brian Baum era
Steve Doerschuk, Canton Repository
NORTH CANTON — The best-laid football plans take hits. Every coach knows it’s coming. It’s football.
For McKinley and Hoover, who collided Friday in a battle won 24-0 by the Vikings, it began as extreme football.
Hoover lost starting quarterback Cade Henne a few days before the 2021 opener. McKinley lost its head coach and much of his staff before summer practice.
How both teams found themselves along the way is a long story.
Hoover improved to 4-2 overall and 2-0 in the Federal League, making a 48-28 kickoff loss to Cleveland Heights seem like a long time ago.
Call it the best game in Brian Baum’s seven years as head coach. Drew Logan, Baum’s best player, was happy for him.
“He sets us up for success every single week,” Logan said. “It definitely showed up on the scoreboard tonight.”
Baum’s on-field speech to his players following the win was something to see, even if you couldn’t hear it. Dude was pumped.
“If the offense keeps getting better and better, this team’s going to get more and more dangerous,” Baum said. “Our guys came out hungry. They attacked the second half hungry. We had our backs against the wall, and our safety made a great play because he was hungry.”
McKinley trailed 7-0 and had a first-and-goal at the 1 late in the third quarter. On second down, senior safety Anthony Gross returned an interception 70 yards on Hoover’s play of the year.
“Our defensive line made a big stop on first down,” Gross said. “Right when they snapped the ball on second down, I looked at my receiver. I looked at the quarterback, who was staring at him. I just jumped it.”
Mike Shimek scored on a short TD run a few plays later. Instead of a 7-7 tie, Hoover led 14-0. In the fourth, senior Robby Smart kicked a 46-yard field goal to make it 17-0. Logan, a beast on defense, ran for a late touchdown on offense — his second of the game — to extend the score.
“We flew around to the ball with energy and played as a family,” Logan said. “That’s our whole motto. Family.”
McKinley arrived on a three-game win streak, which hardly seemed possible in August when the Bulldogs endured a 49-7 kickoff loss to Mentor.
Replacement head coach Antonio Hall leaned into a hurricane.
The last win of Hall’s playing career at McKinley was 7-6 over Hoover in the 1999 playoffs. In the two seasons before that, he started for state championship teams.
His knowledge of the community played into every turn as the 2021 Bulldogs took a three-game win streak into the Hoover game. He understood the coaching-change ordeal as well as anyone in agreeing to be interim head coach in addition to full-time athletic director.
“It was a matter of allowing guys to grieve and deal with not having their coaches around, but also holding guys to your expectations and what you’re trying to accomplish,” Hall said. “It’s been a struggle just to get them to walk that line.”
Before the game, Hall said grinding through was “starting to pay off.”
“It’s gratifying to see the excitement guys are showing for other guys’ success,” he said. “To use one example, Harold Fannin is one of the best players in the county, if not the state. To watch him get excited and cheer on his teammates when they do something well … that’s gratifying.
“If we can keep that mindset and the culture going, this could be a very special season.”
Asked after the game if he might reevaluate that perspective, Hall said:
“No. This is just a good old fashioned lesson in poor execution. North Canton had a great game plan and executed well. This is hopefully a learning moment for us and we come back next week stronger (against Lake).
“North Canton’s offensive and defensive lines were definitely dominant this game. They set the tone and imposed their will.”
The Vikings picked a good night to end a 12-year losing streak against McKinley.
Players from across the generations, marking the 100th year of North Canton football, were recognized by a crowd of 4,000 in Memorial Stadium.
Among the faces in the crowd was Dick Gross, a retired longtime Hoover football coach who taught geometry. It was his grandson, Anthony Gross, who took just the right angle on the biggest play of the game.
Anthony said the team talked all week about ending the long losing streak to McKinley. He thought back to the season opener, when the game was over before it started.
“Cleveland Heights smacked us,” Gross said. “It was good for us. That was one of the best teams we’re going to play.”
Hoover, 2-0 in the Federal League, has Perry at home next Friday.
Sophomore Carson Dyrlund has settled in at quarterback. Henne, who aimed to be one of the county’s top players before his August injury, has stuck around as a vocal leader.
“We knew the running game would be there,” Baum said. “We have a strong O-line and solid running backs, and Carson is a nice runner, as well. But when you lose your starting quarterback, you’re basically starting over with the passing game, getting your timing and going back to the stuff you did in June and July.”
Key plays fired up the cheering sections.
Logan recovered a fumble on defense that led to his 5-yard TD on offense for a 7-0 Hoover lead. Mike Shimek caught a pass to set up Logan’s touchdown and soon made a sack on defense.
McKinley’s Nehemiah Saipaia made a ringing tackle for a 5-yard loss to rescue the Bulldogs after they lost another fumble. Speedy Khris Williams changed field position with a 25-yard run.
The Vikings sat on the 7-0 lead, with help from a sack by Christian Greco. Williams changed field position again with another 25-yarder.
Caleb Ruffin dragged Hoover defenders on a catch and run that got the Bulldogs in scoring position. Hoover’s Brady Sullivan and Greco stuffed a fourth-down run.
It was about to be 7-7 before the senior wearing jersey No. 1 made his big interception.
“We thought about the losing streak against McKinley all week,” said the free safety, Gross. “For the seniors, it was the last chance to beat them. We had to get it done.”
HOOVER 24, MCKINLEY 0
McKinley- 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 — 0
Hoover- 7 – 0 – 7 – 10 — 24
H—Logan 5 run (Smart kick), 7:38
H—Shimek 1 run (Smart kick), :23
H—FG Smart 46 7:58 Q4
H—Logan 4 run (Smart kick), 1:42 Q4
MCK — HOO
First downs: 11 — 16
Rushes-Yds: 25-101 — 46-167
Passing Yds: 106 — 26
Comp-Att-Int: 7-22-1 — 5-7-0
Punts-Avg.: 5-32.6 — 4-33.8
Fumbles-Lost: 2-2 — 1-1
Penalties-Yds: 3-25 — 3-30
PASSING—McKinley, A.Williams 5-16-65-1, Rode 2-6-41-0. Hoover, Dyrlund 5-7-26-0.
RUSHING—McKinley, K.Williams 13-106, Co.Ruffin 1-1, A.Williams 7-(minus 1), Patterson 1-(minus 1), Rode 3-(minus 4). Hoover, L.Roach 29-103, Bugara 3-18, Logan 4-16, Griguolo 3-15, Dyrlund 6-14, Shimek 1-1.
RECEIVING—McKinley, Fannin 3-54, Ca.Ruffin 2-29, McNeal 1-20, Co.Ruffin 1-3. Hoover, L.Roach 1-12, Shimek 1-12, Bugara 3-2.
Records: McKinley 3-3, 2-1; Hoover 4-2, 2-0.
Source: Canton Repository