By DAVID NEGIN
For the Star Beacon
PERRY TOWNSHIP —
Perry coach Matt Rosati and his young team were striving for a signature win Friday night at Alumni Stadium.
Aurora coach Bob Mihalik’s crew was hoping to keep the chase for another Chagrin Valley Conference championship within its reach.
A strong showing from their defensive line, coupled with some big plays helped propel the Greenmen to a 28-3 win over the Pirates.
With the victory and Chagrin Falls defeating West Geauga (22-20), Aurora (7-1, 4-1) finds itself in a four-way tie with those two teams along with Kenston atop the CVC standings with two weeks remaining.
Perry (4-4, 2-3) is still looking for that big win, however, but it did gain a lot of respect from Mihalik.
“Perry is a young, talented team,” he said. “They have a lot of good skill kids. They are probably about a year away from being really good. They are going to be a heck of a football team next year.”
But, a week after losing a heartbreaker to Kenston, the Pirates had a tough time moving the football. Perry had just 182 yards in offense (8 first downs) and failed to move the ball inside the red zone.
“I thought we really battled and fought,” Rosati said. “They were just better than we were up front. Their defensive line was better than our offensive line.”
The Aurora defensive line also came up with the big play of the night.
Perry had cut the lead to 14-3 after Kyle Kremiller’s made a 32-yard field goal on the last play of the first half. On their second drive of the third quarter, the Pirates had a huge pass play (screen) to Kyle Beyer called back with an illegal block.
Facing a third down from its own 12, Rosati called for a quick kick by quarterback Ryan Kahoun. Aurora lineman Brian McNamara raced through the line and blocked the kick and fell on it in the end zone, giving the Greenmen a 21-3 lead.
“I think they were trying to quick kick on third down and take advantage of some field position, which in theory is a very good call,” Mihalik, who agreed it gave his team momentum, said. “Our kids executed and I think Brian McNamara blocked it and fell on it. It was a good job by our kids to play heads up.”
“They have a really good punt returner,” Rosati explained. “We were kicking into the wind, and we didn’t want a big time return. We thought we could surprise them and get it out of there, but we just couldn’t block those guys up front. The kids just came through and blocked it for a touchdown. That pretty much capped off the night.”
Perry’s defense held up well against Aurora, but was victimized by some big plays. Aurora quarterback George Bollas (8 of 17, 156 yards) initiated most of them. In the first half, he found Luke Calalcei for a 13-yard touchdown and Romel Pollard for a 40-yard score. He also connected with Joe Dinardo for a 33-yard gain that set up Aurora’s final touchdown drive at the end of the third quarter.
Other than that, the Greenmen had trouble moving the ball (just 158 yards rushing) and turned the ball over 3 times against the Pirates.
“I thought they had a great defensive plan,” Mihalik said. “I’m real impressed with the game plan they came up with. They had us struggling, that’s for sure. That doesn’t surprise me, though. Coach Rosati always comes up with a good game plan.
“We are a big play team,” he added. “We are kind of built differently this year. In the past we’ve been pound it, pound it, pound it. We tried to get back to that a little bit tonight, but we are more of a spread team. Our kids made plays when we had to. We were fortunate to get out of here with a win.”
Kahoun led the Pirate offense with 64 yards passing (6 of 14) and 62 yards on the ground. Kyle Kremiller added 45 yards. The few big plays that Perry had were called back by penalty (8 for 110 yards).
“We are waiting for that big victory,” Rosati said. “We need it, so we’re going to have to win next week against Wickliffe and then who knows, maybe when we play Chagrin Falls (in the final week), that will be our last chance. We knew we had to beat one of the big three coming down the stretch.”
Negin is a freelance writer from Madison Township.