HOWLAND - It was difficult enough for Ashtabula Lakeside to prepare for the speed of Howland tailback Mike Mangiarelli.
But the Tigers hardly slow down when he is is on the sideline. They simply give the ball to another dynamic running back, freshman Deveon Smith.
Mangiarelli and Smith combined for 210 yards and four touchdowns to power Howland to a 34-24 victory over Lakeside on Aug. 28 at Richard Lombardo Stadium. The Tigers needed those dominant performances, because they also had trouble making tackles during the season opener for both teams.
"Defensively, it's the worst we've tackled since we've been here," Howland coach Dick Angle said.
Friday's home game against St. Jean de Brebeuf was after press time.
The Dragons, making their debut under first-year coach Bill Lipps, actually outgained the Tigers, 349-333, and had more first downs, 18-13.
But Howland's big-play ability was the difference.
Mangiarelli ran 32 yards for a touchdown and caught a 60-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Matt Preston despite leaving the field a few times with calf and hamstring cramps. Mangiarelli also ran 40 yards on a fourth-quarter carry to set up one of Smith's touchdowns. He finished with 109 yards on nine carries.
Smith, just 14 years old, ran for 101 yards on nine carries in his first varsity game. He scored on runs of 2 and 53 yards, both in the fourth quarter, as the Tigers turned a precarious 21-17 lead into a 34-17 advantage in a span of two minutes and 27 seconds.
"Our quarterback made two great throws and our tailbacks, with the help of the line, made some big runs to keep it," Angle said.
Howland's other touchdown came on a 25-yard interception return by Matt Chambers, a linebacker who dropped into coverage and tipped an errant pass from Lakeside's Kyle George, then grabbed it and raced to the left corner of the end zone. Chambers' play came just moments after Mangiarelli's touchdown run as the Tigers took a 14-0 lead just 4:54 into the game.
But Lakeside answered with a 14-play, 80-yard touchdown drive as Howland's tackling issues began to be exposed. The drive was kept alive by a personal foul against the Tigers after George fell on an errant snap and was hit late on second-and-long near midfield.
Levi Halsey capped the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run with 40 seconds to play in the first quarter to make it 14-7.
Preston's perfectly thrown bomb to Mangiarelli made it 21-7 early in the second quarter. Mangiarelli lined up split right and outjumped cornerback Rashaad Bell for the ball at the Dragons' 35, then beat Joe Kelly - another Lakeside defensive back - in a race to end zone.
"Since the corner was facing where he can't see our quarterback and he had inside leverage, all I had to do was come up, fake inside, turn his hips and he was already off-course," Mangiarelli said. "Then I just had to streak down the field and Preston threw a great ball. It was right there."
The Dragons recovered a Howland fumble late in the second quarter and turned it into a 21-yard field goal by Adam Flaugher to cut the deficit to 21-10 at halftime. Lakeside then controlled the ball for most of the third quarter - limiting Howland to just six plays from scrimmage - and eventually made things interesting.
"I think we show character every night, not just tonight" Lipps said. "We have a very, very good football team. We made some mistakes against a very good football team, and when you make those mistakes, it's hard to overcome them."
McCaleb, who finished with 99 yards on 19 carries, got the Dragons within four points with a 20-yard touchdown run late in the third. McCaleb, who rushed for 1,400 yards as a junior last season, broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage, dodged another defender with a spin move, and broke free of a third would-be tackler's grasp on his way to the end zone.
"He's slippery," Angle said of McCaleb. "He didn't gain 1,400 yards last year because he's not good. The quarterback (George) impressed us."
George rushed for 78 yards on 12 carries and was 10-of-28 for 109 yards passing.
"One of the things that kind of lulled us to sleep was that the quarterback didn't play in the preseason because he had a separated shoulder, and they were kind of lackluster in the preseason," Angle said. "But they weren't lackluster tonight."
The Tigers only ran two offensive plays as they jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead and never looked back as they beat the Scarabs, 48-0.
"They're a young program that got a coach late in the year," Angle said. "I applaud our kids for playing business like, staying business like the whole night. We wanted to work on some things. We got to work on our offense and defense.
"We were in much better shape than we looked last week. We looked tired (last week). We tackled crisper. I attribute that to the hard work we put in on the practice field last week."
In that first half, the Tigers ran just 12 plays to East Tech's 20, but held the advantage in yards 169 to 6.
"We executed," Angle said. "Our blocking was crisp. They're certainly not the caliber that we'll see down the line."
Mike Mangiarelli continued his impressive showing from last week with three more touchdowns, including an 87-yard kickoff return to start the second half. Each time he touched the ball, he turned it into points.
On the six touchdowns scored in the first half, Howland's average starting position was from the Scarabs' 27 and no drive took longer than four plays. East Tech wasn't as fortunate as they couldn't cross into Tigers' territory with just two first downs (one coming via a penalty) and drives that on average started at their own 18.
Quarterback Matt Preston was 4-for-4 with 71 yards passing and two touchdown passes. He scored another on a 34-yard run on the Tigers' first play of the game that set the tempo for the rest of the night.
"We're proud of the kids," Angle said. "Being 2-0 is better than being 1-1, I don't care who you play. We've gotten a lot better, but we have a long way to go before we can consider ourselves a good football team. I think we have the tools to become one."
The Tigers benefit from a schedule that starts off with five straight home games, which is the complete opposite of last year when they had four straight road games.
"Our schedule is really favoring us with home games, and we hope to continue to stay healthy and get better," Angle said.
"The Canadian team coming in is a Catholic school that has 1,800 boys," Angle said. "They've played in Ohio before. They'll be a much more formidable opponent. Then we got into league play with Canfield. It's not getting any easier for us. We're going to be ready to play a four quarter game next week and the weeks that."?