Rocky River Football

Rocky River edges football rival Fairview, 7-0

Rocky River edges football rival Fairview, 7-0

Matt Pawlikowski, Special to The Plain Dealer, August 25, 2012 12:02 a.m.
View full size

FAIRVIEW, Ohio — When it comes to high school football, especially between public schools, the Rocky River-Fairview rivalry has been one of the most intense in Northeast Ohio.

For the first time, the rivalry kicked off the season, and while conference foes no more, the intensity Friday was as evident as ever.

The Pirates won their 50th game in the series, eking out a 7-0 win over the Warriors with a scoring play just before halftime and huge defensive plays down the stretch.

It was the first shutout in the series.

“[Defensive coordinator Tom] Fowler came up with an excellent game plan that really frustrated their quarterback,” Rocky River coach Rick Adams said. “Coming off the season we had last year, I think the seniors really took ownership, wanting to right the ship tonight.”

Rocky River got the only points it needed with 43 seconds before halftime when Pat Connors (four receptions, 70 yards) made a nice catch in traffic and raced 24 yards for the score off a pass from Keelen Boettcher, who was 16-for-27 for 178 yards.

“As a coach, the worst thing you can do is run a few plays and take no time off the clock, and we gave them the ball back with about a minute to go,” Fairview coach Tom Narducci said. “You take that play out there, we are playing toe to toe with them from the [30-yard line to 30-yard line] for most of the game without any team scoring.”

While that play was the difference-maker, another key came late in the fourth quarter. Fairview’s Cory Schmidt intercepted a ball that popped into the air with just under three minutes remaining, putting the Warriors in good field position.

The Warriors’ Austin Fox gained 10 yards on their first series, but after that Fowler’s defense buckled down hard, and the only thing Fairview did was go backward.

“I think that was the key to the game,” Adams said. “That interception could have easily put them back in the game, but our defense did a great job of stepping up. That really burst their bubble.”

Fairview had one more shot, but Martin Finnegan came up with a big defensive play, grabbing the ball in mid midair for his second interception of the night.

“The defensive backs coach preached all week that I have to keep everything in front of me,” Finnegan said. “On that last play, I was thinking, ‘I hope this is thrown short,’ but it felt great. It’s a pretty strong win overall for our team and boosts our defense’s confidence.”

While Fairview failed to put any points on the board, junior Jason Kish was one of the main reasons — other than the defense — that the Warriors kept pace with a Pirates team that was able to keep fresh due to its strength in numbers.

Not only did he lead his team in rushing with 49 yards on 13 carries, he also was 11-of-24 for 117 yards passing.

“It was a great high school football game, a great neighborhood rivalry,” Narducci said. “I was real proud of the fact our kids hung in there. We had opportunities, we just didn’t take advantage of it. I was hoping to get them into overtime because we have a pretty good kicker, but it just didn’t happen.”

Matt Pawlikowski is a freelance writer in Cleveland.

This entry was posted in Newspaper Reports, Team News and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.