Kenmore celebrated some of the biggest names ever in the long history of its football program before its City Series home game Saturday against Firestone.
It was only fitting that the Cardinals followed up with their first victory, a result that hung in the balance until the final play.
Kenmore junior linebacker Chris Wood, who did a lot of everything for the Cardinals, dragged down Firestone quarterback Deon Brooks from behind at the 8-yard line as the stadium clock hit all zeroes and Kenmore prevailed 14-7.
“I was thinking I just had to push it, leave it all on the field,” said the 5-foot-8, 210-pound Wood. “As soon as I got him, I said I can’t let go, and make sure he couldn’t score.”
Wood made solid hits all day on ball carriers, several in the Falcons’ backfield. He also punted seven times for a 34-yard average, consistently pinning Firestone deep. And, yes, he played some offense, as well.
“We came into this game with zero [wins] and four [losses]. We knew we had to get a win,” said Wood. “We got this win, we feel like we just won the Super Bowl.”
His final defensive stop inside the Kenmore 10-yard line ended a last-ditch drive by the Falcons. Firestone had started from their own 24 after Kenmore (1-4, 1-1) took a 14-7 lead on quarterback Sherod Clark’s 1-yard touchdown run and a 2-point conversion pass from Chris Richardson to Astin Johnson on a fake from point-after kick formation.
The score was set up after a Firestone punt traveled only eight yards and was returned to the Falcons’ 5-yard line by Kenmore’s Mike Perry.
Kenmore took a 6-0 lead on a long touchdown play with nine seconds left in the first half, and Firestone went up 7-6 on a fumble return just two plays into the second half. Junior Terez Smith’s ensuing 79-yard kickoff return to the 11 put the Cardinals in scoring position, but they were stopped at the 4-yard line.
Firestone (0-5, 0-2) remained winless — and frustrated — after getting flagged with 12 penalties for 135 yards.
“It’s just hard to believe we did all that,” said Firestone coach Tim Flossie. “I’ll have to look at the film. There were some really suspect calls. I’ll let it go at that. We shoot ourselves in the foot. We just make too many mistakes.”
The dropped would-be touchdown pass occurred midway through the second quarter, and the Falcons’ next two possessions ended with interceptions — the first by Kenmore two-way standout Smith and the second by Charles Coleman with 22 seconds left.
On the next play, Clark found a wide-open Smith for a 70-yard touchdown. A mishandled snap thwarted the extra-point kick attempt.
Kenmore recovered a surprise onside kick to start the second half, but fumbled on the first play from scrimmage and Firestone senior Edmund Williams returned it 59 yards for a touchdown. Brendan Fuller added the extra point for a 7-6 lead.
“We talked all year about adversity and not quitting,” said Kenmore first-year coach Jason Knapp. “Our kids have never quit, even with those first four games. This is a game we made into a championship game.”
In the pregame ceremony, the Kenmore stadium’s field house was named in honor of Dick Fortner, who coached the Cardinals in the 1960s and ’70s. The press box was named for Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic, a 1967 grad and star quarterback. The ticket booth is now named for Pro Football Hall of Fame member Cliff Battles, a 1928 Kenmore graduate.
Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps.