Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Balanced Skippers open season with win over Black Knights

Fairport Harding used a balanced offense and stout defense to open the 2019 season with a 32-6 win over visiting Newbury on Friday.

Sam Schuster completed all five of his passes for 155 yards and one touchdown and the Skippers ran for 226 yards as a team.

“Our coaching staff is extremely proud of these kids for their efforts all winter and spring,” Fairport coach Cameron Ruff said. “Their hard work in the weight room has paid dividends for these kids in their development as football players and people. Their added strength has allowed us to block and tackle much better than we’ve done in the past. That showed tonight. We blocked and tackled with and executed the game plan.”

Cody Paugh led the ground game with 11 carries for 97 yards while Schuster added 64 yards on 10 carries. Jayden Alston carried three times for 41 yards and a score and Josiah Cooper scampered for 24 yards on five carries.

“Our offensive line brought great effort tonight,” Ruff said. “They paved the way for our running backs and provided time for our pass plays to get open. Quentin Piotrowski, Martin Mendoza, Dominic Knesebeck, Mike Voiles, Ethan Whitt, and Noah Greene did great blocking tonight. Sam Schuster ran with power and Cody Paugh averaged over nine yards per carry.”

The Skippers were equally effective in the passing game where Schuster spread out his five passes to four different receivers.

Justice Bartley caught one pass for 72 yards and a score, Damon Yahner hauled in one for 45 yards and Paugh had a 10-yard reception. Dillon Knesebeck recorded two catches for 38 yards.

Fairport’s defense shut down Newbury’s offense thanks in large part to six takeaways.

Bartley and Tai Malone both picked off a pair of passes.

Whitt led the defense with eight tackles and Dominic Knesebeck finished with three stops, a fumble recovery a blocked field goal and a defensive touchdown.

“The varsity defense played lights out,” Ruff said. “Our defensive coordinator, coach Jake McDonald, has prepared this defense with great effort, energy, and intelligence. We had six takeaways tonight and held Newbury’s offense in check. Our defenders rallied to the football and made big plays when the opportunities were there. Whitt, Paugh, and Dominic Knesebeck led the linebacking units and Jayden Alston provided much strength on the defensive line. This defense proved to be a great team unit that worked together all night.”

Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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