Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Pirates reclaim Little Brown Jug

PERRY–The Perry Pirates (2-1) are back on the right side of .500, and the little brown jug is back in Pirate possession after the hosts sailed away with Friday night’s matchup with crosstown rival Madison 43-7 at Alumni Stadium.

“I think our kids just played hard and capitalized on mistakes,” Perry head coach Bob Gecewich said after the win. “We brought in some former coaches this week to talk about the rivalry because only two of our kids played meaningful minutes in this game two years ago. So we brought back some old community guys that know exactly what this game means and I think that resonated with our guys. And you saw our guys no matter where they are on the depth chart, they all played hard tonight.”

After the opening Pirate drive stalled out in Madison territory, the hosts quickly forced a three and out, and with 3:39 left in the first quarter senior running back Aidan Lefelhoc blasted off-tackle through the right side of the Blue Streak defense for a 69-yard dash to the end zone. The ensuing missed extra point left the hosts up six.

On the next possession, a quick Madison fumble with the recovery by Perry senior defensive lineman Jadynn Anderson was swiftly converted to seven more points on a short touchdown keeper from sophomore quarterback Brayden Richards, who alternated series at QB throughout the night with promising freshman Walter Moses.

Now up 13-0 with less than two minutes remaining in the opening quarter, a wild snap over the head of the Madison punter once again left Pirate offense in plus-field position with a short field. This time, Anderson took the handoff and swept outside right for yet another Pirate rushing touchdown.

The Blue Streaks (0-3) had the ball but once again couldn’t get anything established on the offensive end, and an impressive 39-yard field goal make from Calvin Rowan pushed the difference even further towards the home side, now 23-0 with 6:20 left in the first half. The Pirates would score once more before halftime – once again via the ground game – sending both sides to the halftime break to ponder a 30-0 Perry advantage.

The second half, a mere formality (featuring a running clock throughout) at this point, a 60-yard sprint around left end by senior Javin Richards, and a fourth quarter rushing score from sophomore running back Jayden Studio closed out the Pirate effort on offense for the night.

Madison sophomore quarterback Carson Alley tallied the lone score for the visiting side with a nifty scramble up the middle for six with 5:47 left in the contest.

The large lead in the second half allowed Perry to get some snaps for its second and third-team guys. That type of varsity experience is invaluable for a program as it builds towards the future.

“It’s awesome,” Gecewich said when asked what it meant to get the younger players some time under the lights. “Brock Christian, our running back that ran out the clock for us tonight at the end there, he’s got the hardest job in football: scout team running back. He gets pummeled every day, and then if he makes a big play the defensive coaches get mad and they make him run it again, and everyone cheats and he gets beat up. Those guys practice too, and part of our program is we want to play as many kids as humanly possible and tonight we had that opportunity. And all of our seniors played, too, so that was great.”

On the other side, a night where there just were not many positive developments for the Blue Streaks had head coach Mike Gilligan searching for the right words to describe his team’s effort on the night.

“It’s tough, we lose this game like we did, we shot ourselves in the foot over and over tonight and you just can’t do that against a good football team like Perry,” Gilligan said. “We did too much to help them, and tonight they didn’t need any (help).”

Still, despite the final tally on the scoreboards at Alumni Stadium, Gilligan saw some positives to hopefully build on moving forward.

“I love them and they’re great kids, and we’re going to continue to coach and they’re going to continue to compete as best we can and try to figure out a way to win because it’s not a lack of effort or a lack of working hard. We’re just not getting the results we want.”

Perry heads out on the road next week to take on Chagrin Valley Conference rival Chagrin Falls, while Madison returns home to face South while hoping to pick up its first win of the season.

Matthew Grassi
Grassi, a 2010 Cleveland State University graduate, is a former Northern Michigan sports editor that has spent the last decade covering agriculture and agriculture technology for various B2B publishing companies around the Cleveland area. A Painesville native, he played varsity football and ran track at Riverside High School and played a year of DIII college football at Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio. He’s an avid Cleveland Browns fan and a devoted dynasty fantasy football and sports gambling enthusiast, and he still plays basketball with a group of high school friends every morning on the far eastside.

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