Last year, Kirtland struggled to put away the Grand Valley Mustangs and suffered its only defeat of the season. The loss snapped the Hornets’ 56-game regular season winning streak and served as a bit of a wakeup call as Kirtland went on to win their next 14 games and its third state title in five seasons.
On Friday, there would be no upset as the Hornets scored the first 16 points of the game and finished off the Mustangs, 29-7.
“It was important for us to come out and play a good game to show our discipline as a team and a little revenge is always nice,” said Owen Loncar, who caught a 16-yard touchdown pass and picked off a pass. “We all hustled and pursued to the ball well and that is always a recipe for success.”
Quarterback Dylan Fulco opened the scoring with that touchdown pass to Loncar with 4 minutes, 59 seconds left in the first quarter. Jared Ianiro added the extra point to make it 7-0.
Fulco finished the game 6 of 13 passing for 100 yards and two scores.
“The line did a great job up front with the run in the beginning which helped to set up the play action later on in the game,” Fulco said. “We saw the scheme that GV was running and made adjustments accordingly throughout the game.”
Joey Torok’s 37-yard run in the second quarter put the Hornets up 14-0.
Kirtland’s defense made a big play early in the third quarter to record a safety that pushed the Hornet lead to 16-0.
Torok added a second 37-yard TD run midway through the third quarter to make it 23-0 and Fulco closed out the scoring for the Hornets with a 6-yard TD throw to Palmer Capretta with 10:13 left in the game.
Grand Valley scored on a 1-yard run late in the game but the Hornets held the Mustangs to just 147 yards of offense on 49 plays. Kirtland racked up 307 yards on the same number of snaps.
“Defensively, Blake (Andonian) and Antonio (Rini) do a heck of a job up front and Brett Diemer really clogs up the middle,” Loncar said. “They free up guys like me (Alex) Weaver and Jeremy Davis to make plays and if the back three don't give up the home run we will be alright.”
With the win and the revenge mindset behind them, the Hornets can look ahead to week three at Villa Angela-St. Joseph.
“It felt really good to win tonight,” Fulco said. “Coach was talking to us all week about it being a physical game from the start and it was.”
Torok finished the game with 80 yards on six carries and Capretta caught three passes for a team-high 58 yards. He also had one of Kirtland’s three interceptions. Torok had the other.