Football fans planning to attend the Division II state semifinal game between Hudson and Perry should be on time.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Solon’s Stewart Field, and the game could move fast with the Explorers and Panthers sharing similar approaches to offense.
“You better come early because both of us run the football,” Hudson coach Ron Wright said. “We could be done by 8:30.”
Wright was joking — sort of. Neither Hudson (11-2) nor Perry (11-2) passes the ball much.
The clock should be rolling because it does not stop on rushing plays, unless there is a first down, a touchdown, an injury or the runner goes out of bounds. Incomplete passes stop the clock.
“They are a really good football team,” Wright said of Perry. “They are a Wing-T team and they run the football very similarly to us. We don’t run with the same style, but I think you will see two teams running the football a lot.
“It will be a hard-fought battle. They play good defense and offense. They are very well coached [by Keith Wakefield] and are a very successful team.”
Stark County record
Perry senior Keishaun Sims set a Stark County record for most rushing yards in the regular season with 2,194 yards, and enters Friday on the verge of becoming Stark County’s first 3,000-yard rusher in a season. He has 2,993 yards and 42 rushing touchdowns, also a Stark County record. His 43 overall touchdowns is another Stark County record this season. Sims has surpassed 200 yards rushing in eight games.
“Sims is an outstanding running back,” Wright said. “He has great vision and is strong. He is having a great year. Those guys up front are also helping him have a great year.”
Among Sims’ school records are 4,579 career yards, 53 career rushing touchdowns and 349 yards rushing in a single game.
His greatest contributions are on offense, and he also makes plays on defense with four interceptions and three fumble recoveries.
Sims rushed for 617 yards and nine touchdowns combined in Perry’s first two playoff wins over visiting Mansfield (35-0) and Dresden Tri-Valley (40-14) at Dover, and then gained 182 yards on 31 carries and rushed for two touchdowns in last week’s 28-7 win over Worthington Kilbourne in a regional final at Mount Vernon.
Junior Tevion Cleveland is another impact Perry player after scoring two touchdowns last week. Cleveland rushed for 142 yards on 19 carries and one touchdown, and also caught a 34-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Max Baker.
Wakefield calls on Sims and Cleveland regularly at running back and defensive back, but the Panthers are more than just a two-man team. Senior Adam Gregoire, junior Matt Carrick and senior Dominick Labriola are solid offensive lineman, and defensively Perry features senior lineman Logan Copeland and senior linebacker Mason Wheeler.
Rushing for Hudson
Hudson’s four main rushers are sophomore tailback Kevin Callahan (122 carries, 832 yards, four touchdowns), junior quarterback Jackson Parker (100 carries, 632 yards, 10 touchdowns), junior tailback Matt Restifo (88 carries, 538 yards, three touchdowns) and senior tailback Roman Moreno (64 carries, 443 yards, 12 touchdowns).
Parker has completed 75-of-158 passes for Hudson for 899 yards, nine touchdowns and seven interceptions.
By comparison, Baker has completed 37-of-81 passes for Perry for 587 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions.
Hudson’s other top players are senior offensive lineman David O’Connor and Greg Robinson, sophomore kicker Grant Gonya and senior defenders Danny Baka, Joe Ritner, Chris Motter and Joey Palumbo.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the #ABJVarsity high school blog at www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MBeavenABJ.