Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Defense leads Kirtland to fifth straight regional title

CHESTERLAND—The statistics from Saturday’s Division VI regional championship game at Howell Field explain how Kirtland turned a 13-6 halftime lead into a 34-13 win over Cuyahoga Heights.

Cuyahoga Heights went 0 for 5 on fourth down tries in the second half. Three of those failed fourth down attempts came from inside the Redskins’ 30 and led to 14 Kirtland points.

“I think they maybe thought they could catch something,” said Kirtland coach Tiger LaVerde. “One of them was 4th-and-1, which they’re usually pretty good at. They have big guys up front and they run off tackle very well. I think (Evan) Madden just found a seam and hit the kid right when he got the ball. It was a fantastic play.”

Kirtland and Cuyahoga Heights both punted the ball away on their first offensive possessions of the game.

Joey Bates gave the Hornets a 6-0 lead when he ran 41 yards for a score on the first play of Kirtland’s second possession. The Redskins tied it on Lucas D’Orazio’s 2-yard run midway through the second quarter.

LaVerde then made a coaching decision that quickly paid dividends.

Rather than attempt a fourth down try from the Cuyahoga Heights 38 he sent Bates out to punt the football. Bates’ kick was downed at the Redskins’ 4.

Two plays later Bates jumped on a loose ball and gave the Hornets a 1st-and-goal at the Cuyahoga Heights 2. Bates scored on the next play to make it 13-6 with 1:42 left in the half.

“We kind of just took advantage of some of their mistakes, which was unfortunate,” LaVerde said. “They fumbled and we got a touchdown there.”

Things got worse for the Redskins in the second half.

On 4th-and-9 from their own 21, the Redskins faked a punt but Madden blew through the line and stopped quarterback/punter Brett Lowther for a two yard loss. Bates scored on a 7-yard run five plays later to make it 20-6.

“On the fake punt I just saw a gap and shot it,” Madden said. “That put me in the right place to make a play.”

Madden was responsible for several key stops in the game.

“Evan Madden played an incredible game on defense,” LaVerde said. “We wouldn’t be where we are at without that guy, that’s for sure.”

The Redskins again went for it on 4th-and-1 from their own 30 and again the Hornets’ defense stuffed the play. David Allchin scored on an 8-yard run four plays later to push Kirtland’s lead to 27-6.

“In the third quarter the wind had them backed up,” LaVerde said. “We just took advantage of the wind. All of our touchdowns until that last one were short fields into the wind. I don’t think our offense was that great tonight. The defense played well and we took advantage of some of their mistakes.”

Another failed fourth down attempt set up Kirtland’s final score of the game, a 1-yard run by Vinny Matticoli with 5:45 left to play.

The Redskins scored on a Dylan Drummond fumble recovery with 4:01 left in the game.

Kirtland outgained Cuyahoga Heights, 225-125. The Hornets rushed for 223 yards with Bates picking up a game-high 119 on 20 carries.

With the win, the Hornets improved to 12-1 and will play in the state semifinals for the fifth straight season.

“Every week we say we’re going to compete,” LaVerde said. “That’s it, compete every play, grind it out and see where it ends up and right now we’re win the Final Four. I’m very proud of these kids. We didn’t know what was going to come out of this year. These kids have worked hard and here they are sitting there with a chance to play in a state semifinal. It’s awesome because its’s special for these kids.”

The opponent and location of the game will be announced on Sunday.



Steve Harehttp://www.ohiovarsity.com
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes OhioVarsity.com, 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.

Related Articles

Stay Connected


Latest Articles


CVC TV: Cardinal at Kirtland

CVC TV heads to Kirtland on Tuesday for a Valley Division first-place showdown between the visiting Cardinal Huskies and the host Hornets.

Richmond Heights clinches Metro Division title

With a 46-27 win over Cuyahoga Heights on Saturday, Richmond Heights’ girls’ basketball team clinched the Chagrin Valley Conference Metro Division title.

Brooklyn student-athletes reach milestones

It was a good week for Brooklyn student-athletes Jaiden Basinger and Shariah Gailes as both reached significant milestones on the basketball court.

Perry, Cuyahoga Heights, Berkshire win CVC wrestling titles

After two days of grueling competition at the 2023 Chagrin Valley Conference wrestling championships, Perry, Cuyahoga Heights, and Berkshire claimed league titles.

2023 CVC Wrestling Championships Semifinal Pairings

The 2023 Chagrin Valley Conference Wrestling Championships began at Perry High School on Friday night and will continue on Saturday with the semifinals.