Hoover 17 - Canton Central Catholic 14
eiAugust 27, 2005
It isn’t pretty, but Vikings still open with satisfying win
Chris Beaven, Canton Repository
NORTH CANTON — No one will remember the 2005 season opener as being a work of art by the North Canton Hoover High School football team.
That’s fine with the Vikings and their head coach.
It didn’t need to look good Friday night. It just needed to be a win. And the Vikings did that, beating Central Catholic, 17-14, at North Canton Memorial Stadium.
“I’m real happy for the kids,” North Canton head coach Don Hertler Jr. said. “They have done more than we asked them to do in the offseason, and they deserve to have success. It wasn’t pretty, but our kids made plays and got it done.”
North Canton played very well on defense and special teams, and just well enough on offense to get off to a much-needed good start. The Vikings are coming off a 1-9 season.
“It was big, and it feels great,” junior defensive lineman Kenny Staudinger said. “We just want to keep playing hard like this all year long.”
Staudinger was part of defense that had five sacks and two fumble recoveries.
“We’re real young on defense, but we’ve got some kids that are active,” Hertler said.
Junior LB Jordan Bucar had nine tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles. Junior DB Seth Allman, junior DT Ken Staudinger and sophomore DT James Georgiades each had one sack. Sophomore LB Kevin Dahl and sophomore DB Matt Wakulchik are among the defensive underclassmen standouts. Two seniors who help pull the unit together are Kyle Robbins and Zac Cochenour.
Central’s defense looked pretty good, too, limiting North Canton to 137 total yards.
“But we had too many errors as a team,” Central head coach Lowell Klinefelter said. “Turnovers hurt us, and we missed too many opportunities to make plays. But give Hoover credit. They did what they had to do to walk away with a win.”
The game’s decisive play ended up being a fourth-down pass play by North Canton in the third quarter. Quarterback Josh Nettleton found tight end Clay Benko over the middle for a 26-yard touchdown on a fourth-and-14 with 7:23 left in the quarter.
“(Nettleton) went through his progressions and hit Benko against a cover-two,” Hertler said. “Josh made a great throw; Clay made a great effort after the catch to get into the end zone.”
Central cut the deficit to 17-14 in the final minute. Quarterback Kyle McBride, making his first start, threw his second TD pass. Mike Fondriest caught the 3-yarder with 35 seconds left.
But the Crusaders failed to get the ball on the ensuing on-side kick. They did recover, but were penalized for touching the ball before the required 10 yards.
“Sure it hurts,” Klinefelter said. “But our guys’ spirit is not dampened. We played hard. We just didn’t execute well enough and make plays. We’ll work hard to get better.”
The Vikings began the season with a 70-yard TD drive. Nettleton converted four third downs, passing to three different receivers — Benko, Alex Bojko and Mike Spalding. Scott Gnau scored on a 5-yard run with 4:48 left in the first.
“That was big,” Hertler said. “We converted a lot of third downs, and got different receivers involved.”
Central tied it on its second possession, using the big play to go 82 yards in just five plays. Senior tailback Charles Saulter had a 52-yard run. Three plays later, McBride threw an 18-yard TD pass to Mitchell Anderson with 9:32 left in the half.
“Central Catholic is well coached and physical, and they did a great job popping some plays on us,” Hertler said.
Central’s next drive reached the 15, but Georgiades and Robbins combined on a fourth-down sack.
Georgiades later recovered a fumble at the Crusader 35. That led to Bojko’s 30-yard field goal with 1:40 left in the half, giving the Vikings a 10-7 lead.
A fumble recovery by Robbins in the third quarter set up Benko’s decisive TD catch.
“We’ve got to keep working at getting better,” Hertler said. “If we do that, we can put together a decent football team.”