A lot of football fans probably assumed that Buchtel’s win over Firestone on Friday night was the City Series championship game.
The two City Series teams that played Saturday afternoon at Ellet High School’s George Auten Athletic Complex believe they have a shot at the title.
It was Garfield’s defense that looked ready to challenge the Griffins in posting an 11-0 shutout of Kenmore in the City Series opener for both teams.
In his postgame talk to his players, Golden Rams coach Bob Sax praised his defense.
“That was a great effort. Now you can think about Buchtel,” Sax said.
Sax was ecstatic about the defensive effort.
“I am very impressed with our defense,” Sax said. “I am not surprised with our defense. Tallmadge last week was the first team that could throw the ball on us.”
The defensive front, led by ends Dierre Powers and Nate Lozada, stifled the Cardinals’ running attack and continually flushed quarterback DeSean Ballinger from the pocket.
“It was our discipline; we worked hard at it all week. We knew what we had to do,” Powers said. “He [Ballinger] is a challenge. We were pretty confident.”
Lozada was a little critical of himself, but enjoyed the defense’s outstanding effort.
“I could have done better, standing my ground better and could have had more sacks,” Lozada said.
The Garfield defense dominated, keeping Kenmore without a first down in the first half and setting up the Golden Rams’ touchdown.
On a third-and-7 on Kenmore’s 26, Ballinger rolled to his right and was forced to roll back to his left and fumbled. Jarred Bell pounced on the loose ball at the Kenmore 13-yard line.
Three plays later, Jataires Grant rolled out to his right and found Lee Pryor in the end zone for a touchdown and a 6-0 lead with 1:58 left in the first quarter.
The lead grew to 8-0 when a bad snap forced Kenmore punter Chris Woods to fall on the ball in his own end zone.
The Golden Rams had a big opportunity to increase the lead after Darrion Powers’ 30-yard run set up first-and-goal at the Kenmore 8-yard line. A bad run, two penalties and back-to-back poor snaps to Grant put the ball back on the 41 and forced the Golden Rams to punt.
“We had some opportunities in the first half we did not take advantage of. We had miscues … a holding and a chop block,” Sax said.
Shai Jones put the Golden Rams ahead 11-0 with 1:11 left in the first half with a 31-yard field goal from the left hash mark. The score was set up by an 18-yard run by Darrion Powers with a 15-yard personal foul penalty tacked on.
“The young lady came to me in May and wanted to be a field-goal kicker,” Sax said of Jones. “She just missed hitting a game-winning field goal against Cuyahoga Falls by 2 feet.”
Darrion Powers, a sophomore, carried the offense, rushing 28 times for 134 yards.
“I ran well in the first half, but they strategized to slow me down in the second half,” Powers said.
Garfield will play at Buchtel at noon next Saturday.
“They blew us out last year. We want revenge,” Darrion Powers said.
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