Dave Bors, Riverside
It was 2001, and it was my first year at Chardon as defensive coordinator. Jim DiPofi was the head coach and our offensive coordinator, Mark Percassi, was also on staff. Nick Schussler, one of our O-line coaches and D-line coach, was a senior on that team, as well.
Anyway, it was 10 days after the 9/11 tragedy and we were ironically scheduled to play at team from our nation’s capitol, Washington D.C. Dunbar. It was a one-time game that we picked up due to scheduling issues.
We didn’t know a whole lot about them other than Josh Cribbs was their senior quarterback the year before and this team had at least four Division I players (their safety went to Syracuse; a lineman named Larry Brown went on to play for Kent State; Vonte Davis went to Illinois and currently plays for the Colts as a defensive back, and his brother, Vernon Davis, who went to Maryland and is currently tight end with the 49ers). I remember watching them warm up and thinking to myself that we might be in a little over our heads. Because of 9/11, we weren’t even sure they were going to make the trip. They did, however, and it turned out to be a fantastic game.
I don’t remember every detail, but I do remember that due to a storm in the area, all of the power went out at the school and stadium. Both teams had to sit through a lengthy delay that became more about the power and less about the storm. I remember being with our team and coaching staff in Chardon Middle School (we used the middle school as the locker room for game days in 2001) in the dark for a good couple of hours.
The only light we had were the dimly lit emergency lights that automatically came on. You couldn’t do anything with X’s and O’s with your staff or the players, because you couldn’t see anything! I think most guys just closed their eyes and took a nap. Normally, teams would make the decision to come back and finish the next day, but remember, our opponent was from Washington, D.C. They weren’t leaving and coming back, nor were they prepared to get a hotel room to stay the night. Thus, both schools made the decision to wait it out.
When play finally resumed, I think it had to be close to 11 p.m. It was a great game that went back and forth with big plays on both sides.
We were up 21-14 late in the game when Dunbar scored to pull within a point at 21-20. The delay would now prove to be a crucial piece of the outcome as Dunbar elected to go for two points and the win, ensuring that the game would finally end before 1 a.m. and not go any longer. Remember, they still had to drive home that night (or should I say, morning).
They went for two, and our defense came up big and stopped them, giving us the victory.
It was a huge victory for us as we were only one of two teams that beat them that year, and it helped assure us a playoff spot because of the decent amount of computer points we received from them. It ended up easily being the most memorable weather-affected game I have ever been part of.