Story by Jim Horvath
Photos by Larry Bennet
Over the past few seasons, scoring has not been a strong point for the Bay football team. In fact there were times where it was an outright challenge.
You never would have known that last Friday night.
The Rockets, under the guidance of new head coach Ron Rutt, scored 20 points in the first quarter alone and rolled to a convincing 40-0 win over visiting Brookside in the season opener for both schools.
"It was a great team win," Rutt said during a break at Tuesday's practice.
"Offensively and defensively, our kids played a great, sound game," he said. "The thing we really preach is that everybody needs to do their job. That's something our whole staff has been preaching throughout the summer.
"We have some kids that sometimes over-think things, or might be uncertain about other things. We've tried to simplify the game and let kids know 'hey, this is my job. I've got to go out there and do it.' That really seems to make a big difference, he said.
Rutt said his team came out and played physical football up front on both sides of the ball. As a result, the defense held the Cardinals to just under 160 total yards in the game. Offensively, the Rockets racked up 280 yards on the ground and averaged nearly seven yards per carry.
Leading that offense was 6-0, 200-pound running back Nick Best. The Rocket junior ran for 180 yards and three touchdowns, two of them in the first quarter as Bay took a quick 14-0 lead. Those two scores came from 16 and one yards out, while his third touchdown was a 14-yarder in the third quarter.
"He's one of our four team captains, and he had a great game," Rutt said of Best's big night. "Defensively, tackle Matt Beniard (6-0, 220) was a beast. He fires off the ball, gets after it and is very difficult to block. He makes a lot of plays out there.
"Overall, I was very proud of the way our kids went out and played, both taking care of their responsibilities as well as how physical we played. We came out and got after it physically.
"On both sides of the ball, our lines were firing off the ball and being aggressive. That was great to see," he added.
Now Bay turns its attention to Westlake, a 34-33 winner over Demario McCall and the North Ridgeville Rangers. The two teams will again be playing for the Little Brown Jug this Friday night on the Memorial Stadium turf.
As big as that rivalry has been throughout the years for both programs, there's also a little added incentive to Friday night's game.
"This is, as of right now, the last meeting, Rutt revealed. "With the Southwestern Conference expanding next year, those teams only get one out-of-conference game. AS the way it's scheduled right now, this is the last meeting between the two teams
"That gives this game a little extra meaning right there," he added.
Demons escape with a win
Meanwhile at Lou Duchez Field, the Demons had their hands full with McCall, who ran the ball 26 times for 286 yards and five touchdowns. The final one came from 10 yards out and gave the Rangers a chance to either tie or go for the win with less than a minute left in the game.
The Rangers went for two and the win, but Collin Sullinger's attempted conversion pass fell incomplete to preserve the win for the Demons.
For Westlake, running back JaQuan Hardy led the way with 110 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Brody Evans ran for 54 yards and what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown from two yards out late in the fourth.
In other games this Friday:
Wellington at Rocky River
The Dukes, who have lost four in a row to the Pirates dating back to 1993, scored 30 points in their season opener at home against Norwayne.
The only trouble with that was Wellington's defense, which gave up 54 points on 519 yards of offense.
Wellington, which lost to at River 42-7 last year, was led by running back Bobby Nestor. He ran for 64 yards and a 20-yard touchdown, while quarterback Joey Holliday, who split time with freshman Tristan Arno, completed nine of 20 passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns.
North Olmsted at Lakewood
The Rangers are coming off a narrow 14-13 win at Parma that gave first year head coach Mike Ribar his first football head coaching win. The Eagles jumped out to a 20-7 first quarter lead and soared past Valley Forge 48-23.
North Olmsted quarterback Christian Ammons, making his first varsity start, threw for five touchdowns. He completed 16 of 25 passes for 282 yards, with two of his scoring passes going to Ben Kurcsak (four receptions, 126 yards).
Matt Starcovic had five receptions for 94 yards and a touchdown for the Eagles. He also scored on a 80-yard punt return.
The rest of the schedule
In other Westshore area games this week:
Avon looks to go 2-0 as the Eagles host East Tech; Avon Lake goes for its first win of the season, but faces a tough challenge at Bedford; Fairview looks to bounce back from a loss to River on the road at Vermilion; and Lutheran West, after a tough 33-27 overtime loss to Firelands, hosts Hawken.
In other games of interest:
Midview travels to Amherst; North Ridgeville hosts Parma; Cleveland Central Catholic is at Elyria Catholic; Brecksville travels to North Royalton; Berea-Midpark plays at Garfield Heights; and Olmsted Falls hosts Canton South.
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