Howland winning streak at 3
Howland High coach Steve Boyle knew it was only a matter of time.
Even when his team started the season 0-2, Boyle remained confident that his Tigers were on the verge of turning the corner.
“In our season opener at Niles we were tied well into the fourth quarter,” Boyle said. “We took Hubbard to overtime. No one hung their heads. The seniors kept believing. They kept saying, ‘We’re not an 0-2 team. The tide will turn.’ “
The tide has indeed turned in Tigertown and Howland finds itself on a three-game winning streak. Howland — which went 1-9 a year ago — has logged consecutive wins over Poland, Boardman and East Cleveland Shaw to lift its record to 3-2.
“Last year, at times, I think some of the players were overwhelmed with the changes,” said Boyle, who is In his second year at Howland. “I think some guys were thinking too much. This year things have become second nature. They’re just going out there and playing football.”
Boyle said his group of 13 seniors has led the way.
“We have young players in a lot of spots, so the senior leadership is invaluable,” Boyle said. “They are great mentors. They lead by example.
“As a unit our offensive line has really taken charge. They have set the tone for the entire team.”
Howland will have its hands full from here on out. The Tigers travel to Louisville (2-3) on Friday. Their final four opponents — Youngstown East, Youngstown Chaney, Canfield and Warren G. Harding — all currently have winning records.
“We’ve talked about how things will just get tougher and tougher,” Boyle said. “No one is going to look past us from here on out, and the competition will get stronger with each passing week.”
G-MEN ARE GROUNDED
When Garrettsville Garfield advanced to the Division V, Region 17 title game in 2016, it did so thanks in large part to a high-powered passing offense which racked up 2,300 yards through the air.
The G-Men were all set to continue utilizing their wide-open aerial attack until they lost a quarterback to an injury. A second moved away. A third transferred to another district.
“A school our size doesn’t have four quarterbacks, so we decided that we were going to change our culture and do something different than what everyone else was doing,” Garfield coach Mike Moser said. “We were going to become physical and we were going to force teams to stop the run.”
Now in its third year, Garfield’s “new” style of play has been unstoppable. The G-Men are off to a 5-0 start thanks to a punishing ground game which has produced over 1,600 yards.
In Friday’s 62-12 win over Windham, Garfield was without its leading rusher, Anthony Demma, who was attending his brother’s graduation from military school. Despite Demma’s absence, the G-Men averaged 11 yards per carry while churning out 385 rushing yards. Seven different players scored rushing touchdowns.
For good measure, quarterback Brody Swigonski completed all five of his pass attempts for 99 yards and two touchdowns.
“It all starts up front, we like to call ourselves an offensive line school,” Moser said. “(Offensive line coach) Randy Ward does a tremendous job of preparing those guys up front.
“Players have to understand that they aren’t going to put up crazy individual numbers in this system. They are very willing to be unselfish for the sake of the team.”
Against the Bombers, eight different Garfield players carried the ball. Seven of those players averaged more than 10 yards per carry, but the leading rusher (Carter Bates) carried the ball just six times for 90 yards.
“Teams aren’t used to defending what we do, so they have to prepare a bit differently,” Moser said. “Dalton Fall was a once-in-a-generation quarterback for us in 2016. We had to adjust. We did so by getting everyone involved. And we are playing this style at every level.”
Garfield will look to remain perfect Friday when it hosts Southeast in a Portage Trail Conference County Division opener.
NOTES FROM AFAR
Ada defeated Delphos Jefferson 74-70 on Friday. The two teams combined for over 1,200 yards of offense and 51 first downs. Ada junior quarterback Brandon Hall accounted for 516 yards and seven touchdowns. A week ago, Ada lost to Bluffton 70-50. … In Pennsylvania, Erie trailed DuBois, 20-13, at halftime. Erie scored 44 third-quarter points and rallied for a 70-20 win. Erie junior J.J. Woodard rushed for 275 yards. He scored 52 points on eight touchdowns and a pair of two-point conversions. … Farrell (Pennsylvania) defeated Mercer, 73-0. The win was Farrell’s 600th in school history. … Minerva snapped a 44-game losing streak with a 30-20 win over West Branch.