Thursday, June 8, 2023

Canton Central Catholic too much for Beachwood

Playing in its second straight playoff game and third in school history, Beachwood’s football team learned firsthand what it’s going to take to win in the postseason.

Canton Central Catholic dominated all three phases of the game in a 41-0 win in Saturday’s, Division 5, Region 15 quarterfinal at Lowell Klinefelter Field in Canton on Saturday.

“Obviously, they’re a tremendous team. Defensively, offensively, every phase of the game; special teams, they took back a kick. They’re a very good team,” said Beachwood coach Mike Gibbons. “That’s a credit to them and their coaching staff. They did an outstanding job.”

The top-seeded Crusaders, who improved to 11-0, ran for 243 yards while Beachwood managed just 119 yards of offense in the game.

Quarterback Jake Boccuti opened the scoring with a 32-yard touchdown run and Justin Neditti made it 13-0 with a 1-yard score. Griffin Baumoel’s 2-yard touchdown run in the second quarter made it 20-0.

Beachwood had a couple of opportunities in the first half but the Bison failed to convert on a fourth down attempt at the Central Catholic 26 and the Bison turned the ball over in the red zone just before halftime.

“In the first half we got stopped on fourth down down there and we had a turnover down here, so we’re moving the ball a little bit,” Gibbons said. “In the second half we couldn’t get anything going. Again, that’s a credit to them.”

A potential 20-7 game turned into a 27-0 rout when Central Catholic’s Jimmy Russell returned the opening kickoff of the second half 65 yards for a touchdown.

“You get a score in there right before half and you can kind of go back in halftime and it’s more of a positive outlook on things. Not to get that (score) hurt,” Gibbons said. “Obviously, the kickoff return to start the second half was brutal. We were supposed to squib it there and we kicked a line drive to their fastest kid.”

Central Catholic scored two more touchdowns in the third quarter and a running clock put a quick end to the game.

Nate Hamilton led the Bison with 52 rushing yards on 13 carries. He also had one catch for six yards.

The senior left his younger teammates with some words of advice as they work to return to the post-season.

“Come together,” he said. “Listen to Coach. Coaches are the key. If you think that you know it all, you don’t. Coaches have history. They have the seniority. They know what the right process is in offseason work. Just go into the offseason, and just try your best. Work hard.”

Gibbons said the same thing to the Bison after the game.

“That’s what we just talked to the kids about,” he said. “Everything that they have right now, that should be what we work to; everything that Kirtland has. That’s what we need to work to. There are no shortcuts. It’s just hard work. It’s just getting in the weight room and working out hard and doing all of those little things that add up and at the end makes the identity of your team. That’s the message to the young guys, and hopefully we can get back here.”

Max Balazs completed 4-of-15 passes for nine yards and Jordan Williams led the team with two receptions for three yards.

Beachwood finished the season at 5-6 but won the Chagrin Valley Conference championship for the second consecutive season.

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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