Pymatuning Valley coach Neal Croston can say something folks in Andover have not been able to say in more than a quarter of a century — maybe longer.
The Lakers are 3-0 heading into Friday’s contest at Fairport, which also holds the same mark.
“The hard work has paid off,” Croston said.
The work has paid off for PV, but the rewards are especially gratifying during a time when a pandemic has been hanging over the entire high school sports community.
“We’re able to play these games and that’s even a bigger deal with everything going on, that’s even a bigger deal with everything going on,” Croston said. “I’m just happy for the kids and coaches that we’re able to play and we’re coming out on the right side of all three phases, offense, defense and special teams.”
Defensively, the Lakers are yet to be scored on. With the ball, they’ve been lighting up the scoreboard to the tune of 350 yards per game and just over 50 points a game.
But for Croston, it’s the connections the players have with each other and the bonds they are building that has been most rewarding.
“We knew we had some talent, we knew we had a good group of guys, but just seeing how close they’ve come as a team,” he said. “They’ve really come together, with this whole pandemic thing going on.
“You go to practice, the kids get along, you have good leaders. It’s pretty amazing right now. What we do in practice is showing up on the field.”
PV has used sheer size and strength, especially up front, to play brand of smash-mouth football in order to roll over Windham, St John and Chalker the first three weeks of the season.
They’ll have a size advantage over Fairport as well, but Croston said the Skippers have skilled position players that will certainly present a challenge.
“They have physical linemen, but their real strength is skill position players,” the coach said.
“Their quarterback [Will Fazekas] has a really good arm, he’s a big kid, like 6-3 and 250 [pounds]. Their main ball carrier [Josiah Cooper] is real quick and they have a big tight end [Dillon Knesebeck] that is fast and can really stretch the field.. They have two guys that we’ll really have to guard.”
Fazekas is third in passing yards among Lake County quarterbacks with 473 yards and three touchdown passes, while Cooper checks in fourth in rushing with 362 yards.
PV has used a well-balanced offensive attack to move the
ball and score touchdowns.
Eight different ballcarriers have touched the ball with eight scoring at least one touchdown.
Quarterback Tyler Bean has the ability to run and throw the ball. Jonah Wilkerson and Dillon Knowles lead the rushing group.
Wilkerson is also the team’s top receiver.
On defense, Victor Verba has compiled two sacks, while Mason Inman checks in with three interceptions.
Croston said the chance to play another undefeated team is something his players and fans are looking forward to.
“Definitely,” he said. “Kids they look at the records and they see that. We kind of build it up ourselves.
“This for home field in the championship game we have in our conference and we want to keep the ball rolling, so it gives you a little more juice playing another 3-0 team, so the kids are really excited.”