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 Friday Night Ohio: Riled up McKinley unloads on Lake to stay unbeaten

BY Jim Thomas

 

CANTON Lake might have been 1-4 entering Friday's Federal League game against McKinley, but the Blue Streaks played them all tough. A motivated Bulldogs team said 'Not in Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium you don't.' Playing its fifth home game of the season, fourth-ranked McKinley was dominant after Lake's opening series and bashed out a 42-6 victory over the Blue Streaks to remain undefeated. A week after throwing for a school-record 301 yards, McKinley junior quarterback Alijah Curtis fired four touchdown passes, two to wide receiver Charles Hall, and ran for another score.

The Bulldogs defense limited Lake to just 158 total yards and seven first downs and shut down quarterback Cameron Martin. The Bulldogs scored 42 unanswered points after the Blue Streaks and Martin marched 61 yards for a touchdown on their first series. That score, after Hoover had put 34 points on the board a week ago, woke up McKinley's defense, which allowed 97 yards the rest of the game. "I think our guys didn't feel good about their effort last week," McKinley head coach Dan Reardon after his team improved to 6-0 and 3-0 in the league. "They played with a chip on their shoulder a little more this week." It started with Xavier Smith's block of Lake's point-after try, and the Bulldogs just kept ramping it up from there. Senior linebacker Daryl Daniels had a sack and two tackles for loss at half, lineman Sia Saipaia anchored the middle, fellow senior linebackers Darius Houston and Reggie Young blitzed off the edge and Lonnie Richardson-Parr picked off Martin, who was 6-for-14 for 42 yards in just his second start at quarterback. "We think our linebackers are a good group, our front seven we feel really good about and our secondary played well tonight," said Reardon. "When our defense plays like they're capable, they are very good."

The McKinley offense is very good too, starting with Curtis. Curtis and Hall connected for two first-half touchdowns to grab the lead after the Blue Streaks had marched 61 yards to score on their first possession. Curtis' first strike was a quick-hitter that Hall caught and sprinted away from the defenders for 43 yards. The second was a drag across the end zone, and Curtis made a strong throw to the opposite side for the easy 6 points. "I think the best thing about our offense is our urgency, and we have guys stepping up," said Hall, who was the team's third receiver behind Prayer Wise and John Mack coming into the game. "Tempo is key. If you have better tempo than them then we go faster, they get tired and it's easier to run by them." While Hall caught three balls for a team-high 72 yards, both Wise (6-61) and Mack (4-66) caught touchdowns from Curtis too. Running back Javon Lewis added a five-yard run late in the first half to give McKinley a 21-6 lead at halftime. "We like to play fast and move the ball around and get everyone involved," Reardon said. "I think Elijah did a real good job with that tonight."

Lake has been plagued by poor second quarters all season and Friday was no exception. McKinley scored twice on successive drives in the quarter, and the Blue Streaks have now been outscored 87-31 in the period, the only quarter they've been outscored on the season. "We had a very good first drive and executed well," DeGeorge said after his team lost its fifth straight game to dip to 1-5, 0-2. "After that I think we woke them up a little bit. They just started overpowering us and we did not play very well up front. It was not a good night for us." Martin was a wrecking ball on his first series. The 6-0, 200-pounder rolled through the Bulldogs seven times for 36 yards and a 2-yard touchdown, which was to be expected since he has averaged 137.6 yards a game. Then McKinley sealed the gaps, and the win.

Reach Jim at 330-580-8336 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

On Twitter: @jthomasREP

 

 

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Lake at Canton McKinley