Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Kirtland hands Tiger LaVerde 200th career win

Kirtland’s 34-8 season-opening win at Harvey on Friday wasn’t the biggest of Tiger LaVerde’s career as head coach at the school but it was a milestone victory.

The win was the 200th of his tenure at Kirtland after taking over the program in 2006.

“It means I’m getting old, I’m just a couple of months from 50,” LaVerde said. “That just means I’ve been doing this a while and I’ve been fortunate to have some great assistant coaches who could really, really coach some unbelievable players.”

What LaVerde and his coaching staff have accomplished at Kirtland is nothing short of remarkable.

The Hornets are 200-18 (.971 winning percentage) during that span with six state championships, four state runner-up finishes, 10 regional championships, 12 Chagrin Valley Conference titles, 15 playoff appearances, 54 playoff wins in 63 games (.857), and 137 wins since 2012, the most in Ohio.

LaVerde’s winning percentage is the highest in OHSAA history and he became the fastest coach in Ohio to reach the 200-win milestone. He’s also the third fastest coach in US history to hit 200 wins.

The Hornets have lost back-to-back games just three times under LaVerde, but none since Weeks 4 and 5 of the 2009 season.

For LaVerde, the win was extra special considering his sons scored the first two touchdowns of the game.

Freshman Jake LaVerde ripped off a 51-yard touchdown run just a minute and a half into the game and senior Philip LaVerde scored on an eight-yard run eight minutes later to push Kirtland’s lead to 14-0. He also added a second TD run in the second quarter.

“That was pretty cool,” LaVerde said of his sons reaching the end zone, but the guys up front don’t get enough credit,” he said. “We had six different guys rush for over 50 yards and I don’t know that I’ve ever had a game like that. We have a really good group of skill guys and the boys up front just keep getting it done over and over.”

Gino Blasini broke off a 59-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and Macquire Boyd punched one in from two yards out in the third quarter to close out Kirtland’s scoring.

Blasini led the Hornets with 71 yards on two carries, Rocco Alfieri added 66 yards on nine carries, and Philip LaVerde carried six times for 64 yards. Jake LaVerde finished with four carries for 60 yards, Tommy Gogolin rushed eight times for 57 yards, and Boyd added 54 yards on six carries.

The Hornets ran the ball 42 times for 369 yards.

Kirtland hosts Lutheran West, a 34-0 winner over Fairview, in Week 2.

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.

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