By MIKE SHAFFER
For the Star Beacon
How good is Aaron Rossi this year? Geneva coach Tony Hassett was asked if his junior running back was capable of hitting a homerun every time he touched the ball.
“Most definitely,” Hassett said. “He is one of Ohio’s best. He wants the ball, he’s a hard runner that has a great offensive line in front of him and he is capable of making the big play at any time in the game.”
Rossi stuffed the stat sheet Friday night in the Eagles (2-1) 56-13 win over Conneaut (1-2) at Conneaut Stadium Friday night.
For Spartans coach Rocco Dobran, there was no way to pitch around him.
“We knew coming in we were going to have a tough time stopping him,” he admitted. “He is absolutely the best runner around here right now.”
Rossi piled up 183 yards on 20 carries with four touchdowns. He scored four touchdowns last week in Geneva’s loss to Perry and has now rushed for more than 500 yards this season.
“I’m feeling good,” Rossi said. “The line is opening up holes for me and I’m just hitting them.”
The win gets Geneva back over .500 after a tough loss to Perry last week.
“That was a tough loss for us,” Hassett said. “We knew we would have a challenge getting the kids up for this game, but Conneaut is a very improved football team, and we had to be ready to take care of business tonight.
Rossi opened up the scoring in the first quarter by sprinting 55 yards for a touchdown.
The Spartans however would answer with a 66-yard drive on 14 plays chewing up over six minutes. Quarterback Troy Colluci carried the ball five times for 19 yards and connected with C.J. Rice on a 21-yard pass play. Rice capped the drive off with a 1-yard run on a quarterback option to tie the game. The extra point by Kyle Sprinkle gave the Spartans a 1-point lead.
Colucci led the Spartans offense with 79 yards on 20 carries. He also completed four passes for 43 yards. Rice carried the ball 13 times in the game for 38 yards.
“In the first half we moved the ball pretty well,” Dobran said. “C.J. showed a lot of toughness out there and Troy always shows a lot of toughness. Unfortunately we gave up a couple of late scores on short fields (and) fell behind.”
Following the touchdown, the Spartans attempted an onside kick that hit a member of the coverage team before going 10 yards to set the Eagles up at the Conneaut 45. Five plays later, Rossi scored his second touchdown of the night as Geneva began to take control of the game.
Rossi scored another touchdown on a 25-yard scamper and the Eagles took a 21-7 lead to the locker room at halftime.
“In the second quarter we were able to get our offense on track and we did what we needed to do,” Hassett said.
Geneva opened up the second half with a 10-play 68-yard drive capped by a 2- yard rush by Rossi.
Later, Geneva quarterback Brandon Pakkala fired his first touchdown pass of the night, a 7-yard strike to Austin Clutter. Pakala and Clutter hooked up later in the quarter on a 69-yard scoring play.
“We’re not just a single threat now,” Hassett said. “With those two making plays like that, you cannot put eight or nine guys in the box against us. We have two or three guys that can hit the homerun and that opens things up for Aaron.”
Colucci scored Conneaut’s second touchdown of the night in the third quarter on a 24-yard run.
The Eagles got touchdown runs from Pakala and Ryan Rivera in the final quarter.
Shaffer is freelance writer from Ashtabula