Lake guts out victory over McKinley

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By Josh Weir

Friday Night Ohio

Jeremy Shrock
Lake's Jeremy Shrock caused havok all night.


CANTON  Message to Ohio high school football teams in Division II:

Look out for the Lake Blue Streaks.

Lake went into a rainy Fawcett Stadium on Saturday night and put on a gutsy, disciplined performance to beat McKinley, 21-14.

“Let me tell you something, No. 151 is a lot sweeter than 150!” Lake coach Jeff Durbin shouted to his Blue Streaks, who beat Hudson last week for win No. 150 in Durbin’s career.

A crowd of 7,000 braved the poor conditions to see two of the Federal League’s finest take turns hitting each other in the mouth. How physical was it?


“If I could rate that on a scale of 1 to 10, it’d be a 20,” said Lake junior linebacker Corey Paulino, who came back from a late shoulder stinger to help finish off the Bulldogs.

The win might have come at an extreme cost for Lake (3-0, 1-0).

Star running back Jim Luther, who was contained (48 rushing yards, 35 receiving) by the Bulldogs, was helped off the field in the fourth quarter with a knee injury. He stood shivering on crutches as Durbin told his guys it was one of the proudest moments of his career.

Luther’s status is to be determined. What is clear is Lake’s talent and guts.

“We can play,” Paulino said. “If we believe, we can do anything. The way we played as a unit, no one man wanted to be an all-star tonight.”

For the Bulldogs (2-1, 0-1), it’s time to look in the mirror.

They fumbled four times. They lost track of passes in the secondary. The offense often was stuck in neutral.

“Everyone who had an infraction, I had them stand up, and they had to make a statement to the team which direction they were going to go,” McKinley coach Ron Johnson said. “Are they going to improve? Or are they going to roll over? Everyone to a man was pointing a thumb at himself, saying, ‘I’ll get it fixed.’ ”

Fifty-four seconds into the game, the Bulldogs had a turnover and a 7-0 deficit.

A quarter in, they were down 14-0 and without running back Elijah Farrakhan, who left with a knee injury.

By halftime, they had lost starting defensive back Ruben Burrows to a shoulder injury and were being outgained, 163-72. Lake led, 21-6 on the scoreboard.

McKinley spent the mistake-filled first half mired in bad field position. And Lake’s defense played fast and aggressive, led by linemen Jarrod Wendorf, Mitch Paulino and Jeremy Schrock; linebackers Corey Paulino and Jarrod Daugherty; and defensive backs Zach Gazdacko and Wes Wilson.

Gazdacko dropped McKinley quarterback Kyle Ohradzansky for a 2-yard loss on fourth-and-goal from the 3 late in the game.

Meanwhile, Lake’s offensive line of Justice Karmie, Rion Ropchock, Sam Rutledge, Sean Hemlick and Mykal O’Brodo battled McKinley’s talented defensive line to a draw, if not winning the match-up.

“(Lake) played great, and I don’t want to take anything away from them,” Johnson said. “But it is very disappointing that we didn’t dominate the defensive front.”

Lake operated with a mix of run and pass. Junior Jon Spohn completed 6 of 8 passes for 123 yards and no picks. He added 43 yards rushing.

Corey Paulino caused a fumble on the second play of the game, with Schrock recovering. Two plays later, Dan Reed took a short pass from Spohn and ran 36 yards for a 7-0 Lake lead.

“Normally we like to have the ball first off. But with the rain early on, we thought we’ll defer,” Durbin said of the pre-game coin toss. “They wanted the ball and they put the ball on the ground early. We capitalized.”

The Blue Streaks went up 14-0 when Luther ran 2 yards for a TD on the 10th play of a drive.

Taron Montgomery’s big kickoff return gave the Bulldogs a breath of life. That led to Sa’Veon Holloway’s 4-yard TD run early in the second quarter.

But the Streaks answered with a nine-play, 79-yard drive that ended with Luther scoring from a yard out.

McKinley was blanked in the second half until Holloway scored from 4 yards out with 1:35 left. Lake recovered the on-side kick and ran out the clock.

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