The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

October 5, 2013

Madison moves into first

Blue Streaks blow past North; now tied with Riverside atop PAC standings

For the Star Beacon

MADISON TOWNSHIP — The arsenal of playmakers in the Madison offense is quite extensive. The Blue Streaks made use of every one of those weapons in dismantling North, 41-7, in Premier Athletic Conference action Friday night Blue Streak Memorial Stadium.

“In that offense they are just playing keep away with it,” Madison coach Tim Willis said. “Our kids just had to settle in (after leading just 7-0 after one quarter). We had a pretty emotional parent’s night so I think our kids were a little flat coming out. It was hard for our kids to get ready, but I promise this next week our kids will be ready.”

Willis can now point his team to a showdown with defending league champion South next Friday in Rebel Country. After falling to Chardon, 14-7, the Rebels can be knocked out of the conference race with a loss to Madison (5-1, 3-0).

The Blue Streaks lead the all-time series with the Rangers, 17-6.

The last regular season victory for the Rangers (0-6, 0-3) came against PAC rival Lakeside, who they will host next week. North topped the Dragons, 16-8, on Oct. 11 of last year.

As has been the case for much of the season, Madison senior quarterback Austin Burkholder (8-12, 165 yards) and wide receiver Aaron Petruccelli (4 catches, 107 yards) were on the same page, hooking up on touchdowns of 40, 46, and 12 yards.

Running back Connor Nikses (8 carries, 75 yards) added touchdown runs of 39 — at the 9:02 mark of the first quarter — and 15 yards, capping a 6-play, 56-yard drive in the third period.

Brandon Davis paced the Madison running game with 92 yards on just nine carries.

“Brandon Davis and Connor Niskes are our 1-2 punch in the backfield,” Willis said. “Petruccelli has been playing really well. We have athletes who we can throw the ball to, too. This game is over though. Have to get our focus on Willoughby (South). We’re excited (to play).”

Leading 7-0 after the first period, the Blue Streaks blew the game open with the three scoring passes.

The stingy Madison defense held North to just seven total offensive plays for a total of minus-7 yards in that quarter. For the game the Rangers only attempted three passes and did not complete a single one.

The Blue Streaks outgained the Rangers, 432 to 181, averaged 9 yards per play and never had to punt.

Off the bench, sophomore Nick Brooks supplied the Blue Streaks with 68 yards and a score on 10 rushes in the fourth quarter.

Josh Kozel scored the Rangers’ only points with 28 seconds left to play.

“They did and are able to do a lot of things well right now,” North coach George Burich said. “This is one of the most balanced Madison teams they’ve had. They are going to take aim at the PAC and try to knock South off and that win streak (which Chardon did).

“We have a lot of young guys playing with 10 sophomores in the mix. When that happens you’re going to take your lumps. However, I am glad our effort was good. We have a ways to go but we will be vastly improved in a year.”

Hall is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.