Fall Sports Openers a Mixed Bag for Local High School Teams
Cleveland Heights football team wins opener convincingly in Columbus; Lutheran East suffers blowout loss to Oberlin
Say what you will about Lutheran East's football team this season, but you can’t deny that Matthew Hardnick has impeccable timing.
In the midst of a 56-0 blowout loss to Oberlin at home Saturday, a heckler taunted Falcons coach Donald Dawson and his smaller, overmatched young men deep in the second quarter and down, 14-0.
Apparently without concern for his personal safety, the carnival-like barker had the nerve to deliver this barb on the home side of the field:
“Hey, coach. You can’t run. You can’t pass. What have you got?”
On the next play, Hardnick answered his question emphatically. The junior defensive back stepped in front of a DaShaun Horton pass at the 2-yard line and ran it back to the 19 to end the drive.
The guy shut his mouth, all right … even if it was only for a minute or two. The Falcons had to take comfort in these fleeting moments in what proved to be a rough reason opener.
“That’s what happens when you have a bunch of young guys playing against seniors. That’s part of the battle right there. … We have to get younger guys acclimated to varsity football. You’ve got a lot of guys coming from middle school. There’s a lot being thrown at them,” Dawson said.
Dawson cited freshman Robert Drake’s day of 28 rushing yards, 30 receiving yards and good defense.
“I don’t even think he’s 5 feet tall,” Dawson said. “He has the biggest heart out there. The kid plays hard.”
Chawnte “CJ” Johnson, who is a senior girl and defensive tackle, forced three fumbles and recovered one.
The Falcons (0-1) will have to hope for better next week as it hosts Richmond Heights at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Cleveland Heights quarterback Bryce Jones threw three touchdowns, including a 90-yarder to Sheldon Gibson, as the Tigers trampled Walnut Ridge, 54-0, to open their season in Columbus on Friday night.
While Heights coach Jeff Rotsky expected the boys to be motivated after losing to Walnut Ridge, 28-21, at home last season, he wasn’t quite expecting this kind of overwhelming response. Needless to say, Rotsky was encouraged by the windfall.
“I have confidence in our boys, no doubt. We just came out to Columbus like it was a business trip,” Heights head coach Jeff Rotsky said. “We need to make some folks respect us a little bit here in the city and not many people do. And hopefully, we got off to a pretty good start last night.”
Jones also hit Terrence Dailey for a 5-yard TD and Dorien Hudson for 33. Braxton Gamble had TD runs of 1 and 5 yards.
The Tigers’ defense also picked up a trio of scores as Kamhari Ollie and Christian Cartwright had fumble-return touchdowns of 60 and 5 yards, respectively. Travis Thompson had a 102-yard interception return for a score.
The Tigers host John Adams on Friday for their home opener. The game begins at 7:30 p.m.
The Tigers dropped two dual matches against Shaker Heights and Euclid at the Highland Park Golf Course during the week to fall to 2-5 on the season. Coach Kevin Dixon hopes an infusion of musical talent will get the team in tune soon.
“We have other kids on the team, but they’re in the marching band. They haven’t played yet, but they’re going to play next week. So we’ll have a total of eight players,” Dixon said.
Shaker Heights won, 233-277, on Tuesday. Cleveland Heights’ No. 1 player, Jameel Jackson, shot 53, while No. 2 Sheldon White (48), No. 3 Max Janssen (61), No. 4 Steven Bell (59) and No. 5 Shemiah Nkosi (56) posted for the Tigers on the red course’s front nine.
Euclid bested Cleveland Heights on Thursday as Jackson had 51 followed by White (57), Bell (56) and Nkosi (56) on the blue course’s front nine.
The Tigers face Bedford at Highland Park for a 3 p.m. match on Wednesday.
The Tigers won their opening dual match of the season knocking off Euclid, 5-0, on the road after a tough last-place showing in a tournament at Brush last week.
Lea Katt (No. 1 singles), Natasha Madorsky (No. 2) and Celia Van Den Dogert (No. 3), along with No. 1 doubles tandem Sophie Madorsky and Abigail Osgood and No. 2 team Ling Qy and Miriam Bennet, led the winning effort on Wednesday.
“We have a lot of room for improvement. If the girls work really hard, we could end up in the top three in the district,” Heights tennis coach Kalee Muller said.
The team hosts Westlake (Tuesday), Lorain City (Wednesday) and Orange (Thursday) at Cain Park for the week. All matches begin at 4 p.m.
The Tigers had a kind of perfect week to begin the season with a win, a loss and a tie to evenly cover all their bases in the record book.
Blessed with a lot of young talent dotting the roster and a unique pre-game ritual that the coach says must be seen to be believed, this team might be one to keep an eye on during the season.
“I’m very pleased with our team’s efforts this first week,” Tigers coach Sean Sullivan said. “I’m very optimistic. It’s going to be a fun team to follow.”
Cleveland Heights tied host North Ridgeville, 0-0, on Saturday. Jonah Meesig saved a penalty kick with about 15 minutes left in the second half.
The Tigers defeated Geneva, 3-1, at home on Wednesday as freshman Ashton Bernard, Desi Pelligree and junior Nick Bernard each scored a goal for Heights. Meesig had three saves.
The Tigers lost their opener against Riverside at home, 2-1. Sophomore midfielder Kevin Lissemore had a 25-yard scoring boot over the goalkeeper’s head.
It was a bit of a rough week for the Tigers as they lost twice.
The Tigers fell to Midpark at Denison Park, 3-2, on Monday as Chloe Sudduth and Arion Jackson scored with Jackson punching in a penalty kick.
Cleveland Heights then hosted Lake Catholic and fell, 6-0, but Tigers coach Robbie Helfgott cited Doleisha Moton’s 10 saves as a high point in the game.
“This is a year where we are expecting to a make a move in the area and make some noise on the east side,” Helfgott said.
Heights hosts West Geauga on Monday (7 p.m.) at Denison Field and travels to Mentor on Thursday (7 p.m.)
Beaumont coach Scott Dennis can’t wait for the new OHSAA rankings to be released in the next few days as he believes his Blue Streaks will be making an appearance on the list.
After trouncing host Normandy, 7-0, with seven different scorers on Thursday, why wouldn’t he?
“We’re most likely going to be state-ranked,” Dennis said. “We were ranked No. 2 in the polls for Greater Cleveland by the coaches just behind Holy Name. We won 12 games last year. We’ve got seven returning starters and a good freshman class. We’re going to be a pretty good team.”
After producing several Division I college players the last few years, the team has evolved with a more balanced approach to scoring and the result against Normandy is early evidence of the change.
Leah Bruno, Cassie Rinkus, Chelsea Day, Rachel McDonald, Alexis Bovell, Jessica Fox and Kirsten Boes all scored a goal with goalkeeper Megan Nemecek backing them up with four saves.
The Blue Streaks travel to Mayfield on Monday (7 p.m.) and host Notre Dame Cathedral Latin on Wednesday (6 p.m.) and Rocky River on Saturday (3 p.m.)
Beaumont finished 11th out of 18 teams in the Revere Invitational in its first event of the season on Saturday.
Senior Rachel Slingluff led the Blue Streaks with a time of 19:58 for eighth place. Beaumont’s other top runners were senior Nicki Woodcraft in 57th (21:32.08), junior Sam Graf in 73rd (21:56.85), freshman Rachel Graf in 76th (22:02.26), senior Maura O’Connor in 80th (22:06.68) and senior Jessie Slingluff in 89th (22:16.45) to round out the Blue Streaks top six competitors. The team features 17 runners overall.
“Our goal is to make it to state this year and try to finish in the top 10,” Blue Streaks coach Jim Emery said. “I don’t see us as state contenders. … This should be a decent team.”
The Blue Streaks will run Saturday in the Avon Lake Earlybird Cross Country Invitational held at Lorain County Community College beginning at 8 a.m.
Although Beaumont finished last in its two events last week, Sister Erin Zubal, the head golf coach, believes she sees potential in her young team.
“I have had players improve by 10 strokes from match to match, which is significant. We’re seeing improvement. We’re confident that things will improve, not only as the season continues, but into the future. I have freshmen and several sophomores who will be continuing in the future,” Zubal said.
The Blue Streaks finished fourth with 209 in a four-team field behind Walsh Jesuit (166), John F. Kennedy (181) and St. Joseph’s Academy (204) on Thursday. The teams played on Highland Park Golf Course’s front-nine on the blue course.
In the nine-hole affair, No. 1 player and senior Alexa Brown fired a 50, while sophomore Cassandra Heathcote (50), sophomore Katherine Corrado (54) and freshman Samantha Cumley (55) followed her efforts.
On Monday, the Blue Streaks finished 18th out of 18 teams in the Walsh Jesuit Invitational at the Silver Lake Country Club. Brown had a 107 followed by Heathcote (113), Katherine Corrado (117) and Jennifer Corrado (114) in the 18-hole competition.
The Blue Streaks host Lake Catholic on Monday (3:45 p.m.)