G-Men in regional title game vs. CCC

Don’t call the Garfield G-Men a passing team. While standout quarterback Dalton Fall has certainly had a record-setting year with his 20-plus touchdown passes, the real key to the G-Men’s success in recent weeks has been the running game.

That fact especially became apparent Saturday night in Niles, against the LaBrae Vikings in a Division V, Region 17 semifinal playoff game. The Vikings, who feature a stout run defense with their 250-pound defensive linemen and speedy linebackers, were unable to hold up against a potent G-Man rushing attack, which gained 252 yards on 39 carries, in a 33-28 win over the Vikings.

“We have some special kids in the backfield, and Kyle (Borrelli) and Dalton (Michael) have been especially good lately,” Garfield coach Mike Moser said. “Kyle has been a monster for us since these playoffs began. We said all year that we can do both (run and pass), we don’t just have to rely on one or the other.”

In the win, the G-Men (9-3) started the game off in a 13-0 hole, and then eventually rallied to take a 27-21 lead with 6:04 remaining in the game. However, LaBrae took a one-point lead with just 55 seconds left, but the G-Men were able to quickly march down the field and score on a Borrelli 14-yard touchdown run with just four seconds to go.

Borrelli, who rushed for 99 yards against a strong South Range defense a week prior, had 20 more carries and gained 131 yards and scored three touchdowns against the Vikings.

For Moser, the win said a lot about the character of his ballclub, fighting through the adversity.

“I think it says a couple things,” Moser said. “No. 1, it was their never say die attitude and how they kept believing in themselves. Because, we started off about as bad as we could, going down 13-0.

“No. 2, it says that when we play real well, things like this can happen.”

In fact, what makes Garfield’s run the past two weeks so special is that the regular season didn’t end so well for the team.

Garfield (9-3) dropped three of its last four games, including losses to Mogadore, Crestwood and then Southeast in Week 10. However, Moser says that those are three really good teams and that his squad has been taking things one week at a time since then.

Moser also said that the postseason berth gave his No. 8-seeded G-Men some new life, and hope. They’ll certainly need to continue that wave of momentum when they take on No. 3 Canton Central Catholic this Saturday night at Uniontown Lake.

The Crusaders (8-3) are an athletic team that’s managed a very difficult schedule to this point. After a 2-3 start, with losses to playoff teams in Massillon Perry, St. Thomas Aquinas and NDCL, they finally found their groove with wins over Massillon Jackson and the two recent playoff victories over Akron Manchester and Black River.

“(Canton Central Catholic) is a real tough one,” Moser said, laughing. “It has a great tradition with great players and good coaching. But this is what you’re down to, this point in the postseason.

“We know that if we’re gonna win the region, we’d have to play them sooner or later. You expect to play teams like this when you get down to the final eight teams in the postseason.”

Central Catholic ihas a skilled offensive line with a mobile quarterback and great athletes on the perimeter, according to Moser. The Crusaders are somewhat like LaBrae, who the G-Men held to just 78 rushing yards on 33 carries.

Defensively, Moser says that Central Catholic is not the biggest group, but it has defensive backs that can lock down in coverage and can tackle well. The Crusaders could have their hands full with Garfield’s red-hot rushing attack.

“I always say, when you get in these playoffs, you gotta play great defense and run the ball real well,” Moser said. “Luckily, we’re doing that real well right now.”

Indeed the G-Men are, as they’ll try to go for the playoff hat trick this weekend.