The Aurora Greenmen, like the Kenston Bombers a week ago, will be favored when the Perry Pirates come calling Friday night in a Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division clash.
Coming off a season in which they finished 12-2 and as a Division II state semifinalist — not to mention having three Division I recruits — coach Bob Mihalik’s Greenmen (6-1, 3-1) are what coach Matt Rosati’s Perry Pirates are striving to be... eventually.
Rosati saw his game, but young squad take it on the chin against CVC Chagrin Division leader Kenston last week, 34-14. However, he knows the tide will turn.
It’s not an if, he said, but a when.
“I told the guys after the game on Friday night, ‘In two years, when we come back to Kenston, we will be bringing MEN back with us, not a bunch of young kids,’” Rosati said.
The collective youth of the Pirates (3-4, 2-2) is magnified by this — Perry is 3-0 in games played at their home, Alumni Stadium, but 0-4 on the road.
“Normally, I would say it does not matter where you play, and it is the schedule,” Rosati said. “But for the first time in my career, I saw young players freeze up when we went to West Geauga (in Week 5).
“They had that deer-in-the-headlight look. After the first half, they played really well. But, yes, taking young guys on the road into big games is tough, but it will pay benefits down the road.”
And “tough” is what it will be this week for Perry. Aurora’s three Division I commits are all defensive stalwarts:
n Zach Quinn, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound linebacker — committed to Toledo.
n Patrick Dougherty, a 6-5, 250-pound defensive end — committed to Indiana.
n Alex Smierciak, a 6-2, 210-pound defensive back — committed to Miami of Ohio.
“They are tough and explosive players who we will have a difficult time dealing with,” Rosati said. “They are very physical on both sides of the ball.
“They are very multiple on defense and on offense they will come right at you, but also have the ability to throw the ball.”
At least the Pirates will be familiar with the Greenmen.
“The one thing I can say s that we know these teams very well, we know the coaching staffs very well, we have gone through the wars over the years with in the conference all of us having success,” Rosati said. “There are really no surprises when we play.”
Since 1939, Perry and Aurora have played 20 times, the Pirates holding a 12-8 advantage in those games. The Greenmen prevailed last fall at Alumni Stadium, 54-25.
The loss last week at Kenston was a result of not only the Bombers’ ability, but also their execution.
“Overall, I felt we had a really good plan of attack. We simply did not execute well enough in the first quarter,” Rosati said. “We wanted to keep the ball away from them by controlling it on offense. In the second quarter, they only had five offensive plays to our 28. That was the plan.
“Only problem, we could not do it early. They were more athletic than we were. The QB, Darryl Richards, was remarkable. And they were very fast on defense.”
The Pirates, who will be without two-way starters Ryan Bellissimo and Zach Carnovale for the rest of the season because of shoulder injuries, will be facing yet another high-level, quality opponent this week.
“Aurora is an excellent team. They are a very physical group,” Rosati said. “They will have a very good game with Kenston. They will all make the playoffs and I predict that each team will win at least one game in the playoffs.
“This is truly an elite group of football teams in one conference.”
But Rosati and his staff will have a plan for the Pirates on Friday night.
“We must be able to keep it close... we must be with in striking distance going into the fourth quarter,” he said. “We will need to score on defense or special teams to be in this game.
“We will have to limit their offensive snaps by being able to move the football.”