Saturday, September 30, 2023

Kirtland cruises past Grand Valley for 47th straight regular season win

Kirtland’s streak of consecutive streak of regular season victories reached 47 on Friday night when the Hornets cruised past Grand Valley, 61-0.

Jacob Boyd rushed for a team-high 99 yards and two scores

Led by Jacob Boyd, who rushed four times for 99 yards and two touchdowns, the Hornets accounted for over 400 yards of offense and forced three Grand Valley turnovers.

“We’re still trying to figure out stuff on the offensive line but the defense has been very solid,” said Kirtland coach Tiger LaVerde. “We’re trying to get better in our decision making on offense and where we throw the ball and up front we’re trying to have these guys jell. Our skill guys did a nice job.”

Kirtland (2-0) jumped out to an early 7-0 lead when Adam Hess punched it in from the Mustangs’ 8-yard line just 34 seconds into the game.

It took the Hornets nearly six minutes to score again, but once Sam Skiljan crossed the goal line on his 73-yard scoring run the points came in bunches.

Skiljan scored with 5:50 left in the first quarter. Matthew Finkler returned an interception for a score 44 seconds later and Skiljan and Finkler connected on a 29-yard touchdown pass to make it 27-0 with 3:54 left in the first.

“Matthew Finkler had a really nice drop,” LaVerde said of Finkler’s pick-six. “He does it in practice all the time. I was just waiting for him to get one in the game. He has incredible hands. He just sticks them out there and the ball sticks.”

Hess ran for a 35-yard touchdown to make it 34-0 and Boyd ran for a 48-yard score to put Kirtland ahead 41-0 with 7:55 left in the first half. He added a 45-yard touchdown run just before halftime.

“Jacob Boyd been has been running the ball hard and strong,” LaVerde said. “He gives us a little punch behind Adam. We handed it off to Jacob and he doesn’t dance around. He runs very hard.”

With Kirtland’s reserves seeing extended time in the second half it was the Hornets’ kicker that stole the spotlight.

Jordan Ianiro was 2-for-2 in field goal opportunities. He connected on a 37-yarder in the third quarter that put the Hornets up 51-0 and he closed out the scoring in the fourth with a 46-yarder.

Ianiro teamed up with Bradley Hauptman, the hero in Kirtland’s 10-7 win over Columbus Bishop Ready in the 2013 Division VI state semifinals, to convert 7-of-8 extra point tries.

“I think Jordan put four or five (kickoffs) in the end zone for touchbacks. That’s absolutely huge in high school football to make other teams start at the 20,” LaVerde said. “Bradley Hauptman was going to be our punter and Jordan was going to be our kickoff guy and they were going to split PAT’s and field goals. They’re both very talented but Bradley has been dealing with a little hamstring issue so he has not been kicking as much as Jordan has, but he’s extremely talented and obviously he made a big kick for us last year.”

Antonio Rini added a 5-yard touchdown run for the Hornets in the second half.

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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