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Chaney breezes by Poland, 34-2

Chaney senior Jawan Freeman cuts in between a pair of Poland defenders for a 27-yard touchdown run in the first quarter of Thursday’s Week 1 matchup at Poland High School. The Cowboys routed Poland, 34-2.

POLAND — Believe it or not, football was officially back Thursday evening at Poland’s Dave Pavlansky Field.

For the first few stages of the contest, it looked like mid-August football too. Both squads traded turnovers on their first drives before Chaney fumbled a punt.

It wouldn’t take long for the Cowboys to saddle up however, as they leashed the Bulldogs 34-2 to open the 2022 campaign.

With a smile sizable enough to light up a room, Seth Antram had been waiting for Thursday evening for a long time.

“It’s crazy because when we first came back (as a freshman and junior varsity team) in 2018, we played here,” Antram said. “That means something to me just to be back in the red and working with these guys, it’s fulfilling.”

Senior James Amil-Austin broke through the Poland line and ran down the Bulldogs sideline for a 68-yard score to begin the rout. Sophomore quarterback Matt Jones ran to his left to nail the two-point conversion.

Jawan Freeman got in on the fun from 27-yards out to make it 14-0 following a failed two point try going into the second quarter. Before halftime, Jawan Harmon and Jason Hewlett added scores, with Hewlett’s receiving touchdown coming afterhe beat a defender one-on-one for a 58-yard score.

After missing all of the 2021 season after suffering a leg injry in Chaney’s Week 1 contest against Austintown Fitch, Hewlett went down to his knees and pointed toward the sky,

It was a long-time coming for the Cincinnati commit.

“I dedicated my first touchdown to one of my close friends (Malik Stewart) that passed away last year,” Hewlett said. “I couldn’t get it for him last year, so that one was extremely emotional. It’s a relief. All that hard work, working, it finally paid off. I’m just super excited to get back on the field. I didn’t know if I was going to be that same player, but scoring that touchdown really upped my confidence a lot.

“It feels great, after the first quarter, I just started smiling because I didn’t make it past there last year. After that second and third quarter, I was just excited and happy. I was a little nervous before this game, I can’t even lie, sweating, I just needed some me time, but God picked me up like always and he told me, “you him.'”

The Cowboys defense was stellar, limiting Poland to 218 total yards despite having three extra possessions due to turnovers.

Jones racked up 204 total yards himself, showing an ability to manage the contest, with just four completed passes.

Jawann Harmon eventually scored his second touchdown of the evening following a 16-yard trip to the house late in the fourth.

“They felt great. I thank the offensive line, that comes first. Came out three flat, we had a hard week of practice, and we came out and put it all in the game,” Harmon said. “Defense, came out, did their job, held their ground. We left two points, just wishing it was zero, but the defense did their job.

Poland switched between quarterbacks Dominic Pagano and JP Genova at times, and despite hauling in an onside kick to start the second half, Tom Pavlansky’s team just couldn’t find their groove despite extra chances.

“We missed some opportunities there in the first half, we’re kicking ourselves about it. We punch one in there, who knows what happens,” Pavlansky said. “The bottom line is, we got to be better and we will. We’ll get better.”

The Bulldogs lone score came on a fourth quarter safety after Alex Stefek forced a Jones fumble in the end zone.

As much as Antram appreciates the attack by the offense, holding the Bulldogs to just two points is always a major accomplishment.

“(Poland) is big up front, they move the ball well, they spread it around a little bit with some jet and stuff,” Antram said. “Poland football is power and counter and stuff. We were able to bear down a few times when we needed to.

“You want to start off on the right foot. We’ll find out tomorrow where our mental is out and everything, and obviously big getting the first one just to show that their work is going to pay off, they keep heading in that direction.”

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