RAVENNA: Mogadore got the chance to face the team it wanted to in these 2012 playoffs, and couldn’t have come out stronger in beating Youngstown Christian 42-20 and taking home the 16th regional title in school history at Ravenna High School on Friday night.
Last season, Youngstown Christian sent Mogadore home early with a 20-17 win in the first round of the playoffs. With a year of pent-up energy, the Wildcats played about as well to start Friday night’s rematch as possible.
Senior running back Gary Strain took Mogadore’s first carry from scrimmage 82 yards for a touchdown. Junior running back Bryce Huth scored on his second run of the season from the 2-yard line to put Mogadore ahead 14-0. Then junior Jeremy Hugg recovered a fumble (he recovered two in the game) on the ensuing kickoff, and Strain carried the load on a 9-play drive that ended with his second touchdown run.
If the running game wasn’t enough, junior quarterback Anthony Ricci threw a picture-perfect pass to junior Kasey Beard for a 28-yard touchdown with six seconds left in the half to put the Wildcats ahead 28-0.
By that time, Strain had run for 177 yards and two touchdowns and Youngstown Christian (9-3) had 40 yards of total offense.
“Obviously, [Strain] is pretty special,” Mogadore coach Matt Adorni said. “That first play, that was huge. They have speed, but we think we’re pretty quick, too. We got a great start and all the momentum was in our favor.”
Coaches will routinely say, “We don’t care who we play, we just want to win.” But Adorni couldn’t hide that his players wanted a second chance at the Eagles.
“I’m not gonna lie, they were pretty excited last week in the locker room when Youngstown Christian pulled it out,” Adorni said. “You gotta be careful what you wish for. I told them that.”
Strain finished the night with 272 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries and barely played in the fourth quarter.
“We just had to take care of business all night,” Strain said. “We had unfinished business with this team from last year.”
Strain has now rushed for more than 200 yards in all three of Mogadore’s playoff wins.
For the second week in a row, Adorni raved about his offensive line, which again controlled the opposing defensive front.
Adorni said earlier in the week that being “tougher in the trenches” would be key Friday night.
“They were a wrecking machine tonight,” he said. “Gary is a special player but we had to pound it and get some tough yards at times. They protected Anthony very well to make the throws we needed to make.”
Mogadore (13-0) didn’t escape the game without some bad news. Sophomore running back Brandon Berry left the game early, and Adorni says it looks like he has a broken foot. Mogadore was already without senior Jake Cramer, who missed the game with a concussion. His return next week is questionable.
Huth and senior Evan Uhalley stepped up in Berry’s absence. Each scored a touchdown (Uhalley’s 4-yard run put Mogadore ahead 35-0), and Huth also made a couple of key tackles, including stuffing a runner on third-and-1 in the first half.
“I can’t talk enough about Bryce Huth and Evan Uhalley stepping up,” Adorni said.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.