Blue Streaks muscle way past Bulldogs

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By Michael Bevan

Akron Beacon Journal

Lake vs McKinley
Canton McKinley quarterback Kyle Ohradzansky (10) tries to outrun Lake High School's Jarrod Wendorf (behind) and Zach Gazdacko (29) in the second quarter at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio. (Paul Tople/ Akron Beacon Journal)

CANTON: Fans who love hard-hitting football got their money's worth Saturday night at Fawcett Stadium.

Lake and host Canton McKinley met in the Federal League opener for each team and a constant was physical play on each side.

The Blue Streaks ultimately prevailed 21-14 to improve to 3-0 overall, and the Bulldogs dropped to 2-1.

''That's the way to play men,'' Lake coach Jeff Durbin shouted to his players and assistant coaches in the postgame huddle. ''We hit 'em in the teeth. We did not give them an inch.''

The rough nature of play, though clean, took its toll. Both teams lost their standout running back to an apparent knee injury. Bulldogs senior Elijah Farrakhan left the game with 5:43 to go in the first quarter and Blue Streaks junior Jim Luther departed the game with 8:33 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Durbin and McKinley coach Ron Johnson were both unsure to the extent of the injuries after the game.

''If I could rank that [the hitting] on a scale of 1 to 10, it would probably be a 20,'' Lake junior linebacker/tight end Corey Paulino said. ''They played their heart out and we played our heart out.''

Paulino forced a fumble on the second play from scrimmage that senior Jeremy Schrock recovered.

''You get the ball to start and you want to send a message,'' Johnson said. ''We put the ball on the ground.''

The Blue Streaks struck two plays later when junior quarterback Jon Spohn threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to senior Dan Reed with 11:06 to go in the first quarter.

''Our guys were excited and focused to play,'' Durbin said. ''It was great the way we came out of the gate. We had a great start and it was nice that our defense did not fold in the fourth quarter like we have the past two years [against McKinley].

''They put the ball on the ground early and we capitalized.''

Luther extended the Blue Streaks' lead with a 2-yard run as time expired in the first quarter.

''One of the hallmarks of Lake football is toughness,'' Durbin said. ''We preach that and the kids buy into it.''

McKinley cut its deficit to 14-6 on a 4-yard touchdown run by junior Sa'Veon Holloway with 10:20 remaining in the second quarter.

Lake responded on the next drive with a Luther 1-yard rushing touchdown with 5:19 to go in the second quarter.

McKinley concluded the scoring with 1:35 to go in the fourth quarter when Holloway rushed for a 4-yard touchdown and then ran for a 2-point conversion.

The Bulldogs tried an onside kick, which Blue Streaks seniors Mason Stephens and Wes Wilson fell on. Lake then ran out the remaining time on the clock.

Seniors Jarrod Wendorf, Schrock and Mitch Paulino were also key Lake players defensively, along with junior Jarrod Daugherty and sophomore Zach Gazdacko.

Corey Paulino briefly left the game in the fourth quarter with a shoulder stinger, but returned to the lineup.

''The way we played as a unit, no one man wanted to be an all-star tonight. Everyone did their assignments tonight,'' Corey Paulino said.

Lake's offensive line of seniors Justice Karmie, Sam Rutledge, Sean Hemlick, Rion Ropchock and Mykal O'Brodo were effective with junior Dylan Seibel.

Juniors Steve Miller and Se'Von Pittman led McKinley's defense, which also included seniors Freddie Burton and Eric Snow.

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