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Three times not a charm

Kennedy falls victim again to familiar foe

RAVENNA — The John F. Kennedy football team spent most of the last two offseasons seeing red — both the color and the mascot to be exact.

The Cuyahoga Heights Redskins extended their misery another year, and the Eagles will likely be seeing the No. 84, along with red, for a little while.

Cuyahoga Heights’ Jason Bartosik — aka. No. 84 — scored on two long receptions and caught an impromptu fake punt early in the second half to seal a 33-14 victory in a Division VII, Region 25 semifinal Saturday at Gilchrist Field in Ravenna.

It’s the third straight year Cuyahoga Heights (10-1), the top seed in the region, has eliminated the Eagles (8-4) from the playoffs.

“We had to play a near-perfect game, and we certainly made some mistakes that were uncharacteristic,” JFK coach Jeff Bayuk said. “… They’re really good, and they don’t make many mistakes.”

The Redskins’ multi-faceted offense gave the Eagles trouble all game.

Cuyahoga Heights utilizes a triple-option attack, a run-heavy style in which one of three players can get the ball on a given play. The Redskins also can switch gears by emptying the backfield and using a five-wide receiver set to throw the ball.

They used both to their advantage Saturday, amassing 411 yards of total offense, including 293 yards passing. Bartosik, a 6-foot-4, 190-pound senior receiver, was dominant, with five receptions for 179 yards and two TDs.

“If that kid doesn’t have some D-I (college football) offers, I’d be surprised,” Bayuk said of Bartosik. “We had to put two guys on him, and that certainly hurts us in other areas.”

Bartosik and quarterback Sam Shafer inflicted the most pain, but it was a different quarterback who crushed JFK’s hopes.

The Eagles stopped Cuyahoga Heights on its opening drive of the second half, but as the Redskins set up to punt, the kicker, Kyle Polack, noticed no one was guarding Bartosik, who was lined up near the sideline. He alertly took the snap and launched a pass to Bartosik, who made a player miss and finished a 55-yard TD by diving into the end zone for a backbreaking 33-14 lead.

“It was not called,” said Cuyahoga Heights coach Al Martin of the fake punt. “I wasn’t even paying attention. I was already moving on to try to figure out play calling. We were in spread punt. We motioned across, and they got a little confused. They didn’t have a guy lined up. Jason yelled something to Kyle, and Kyle just had the guts to throw it. It was not a call. … That was just those two kids making a play.”

Shafer made a few plays, too.

He finished 12-of-16 passing for 238 yards and two TDs. He also ran for 76 yards and two TDs on 19 attempts. He got the Redskins on the board with a 27-yard TD pass to Polack late in the first quarter. Shafer then made it 14-0 on a 2-yard run.

JFK got back into the game on a 60-yard touchdown run by Jesse Likens, who finished with 150 yards rushing. But then Bartosik started to take over. He caught a 72-yard TD less than a minute after Likens’ score to make it 20-7. It was one of several times Cuyahoga Heights extinguished any positivity created by the Eagles.

“I really thought we had some momentum there when we finally stopped them and made them punt, and then we just didn’t cover the receiver,” Bayuk said. “We just went over that a couple days ago, so it’s frustrating. It’s frustrating for the kids, and it’s frustrating for everybody, but that’s high school sports.”

The Eagles had some chances.

They moved within one score midway through the first half when Christian Marantis threw a 26-yard pass to Savone Williamson in the back corner of the end zone on fourth down. But Cuyahoga Heights responded.

They went for it on fourth-and-2 from the Eagles’ 38, with Polack catching a 24-yard pass. There appeared to be an illegal substitution on the play, but no flag was thrown. Shafer capped the drive with a 1-yard score a few plays later, giving them a 26-14 halftime lead.

The Redskins plays second-seeded Lucas next Saturday in a regional final at a site to be determined.

While disappointed with the loss, JFK had another good season, reaching the playoffs for the fifth straight year. They’ve won at least one game in four of those appearances.

“Our kids still played really hard,” Bayuk said. “I’m proud of the way we play football at JFK. Our kids missed some assignments, but it was never due to a lack of a effort. I just love the way they play.”

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