Monday, February 6, 2023

Vikings in playoff mode

The OHSAA has set the first round of the football playoffs for the weekend of Nov. 7-8.

Don't try telling that to Villa Angela-St. Joseph.

As far as the Vikings are concerned, the postseason is here right now.

VASJ (6-2) hosts NCL White foe St. Thomas Aquinas on Oct. 25 in a key league battle with major playoff implications on the line. The Vikings are the lone unbeaten team in the NCL at 3-0, and are currently 10th in Division VI, Region 19. The top eight qualify for the postseason.

The Knights have been hit hard by injury and illness and most recently a key suspension to a standout player, but have managed to build a 6-2 overall record, 2-1 in the league, to stay in league and playoff contention in Division VI, Region 19. They're seventh in the region, three spots ahead of NCL White Division leader VASJ.

According to the Canton Repository, there was the brief loss of star senior quarterback Anthony Moeglin to injury. Then, a contagious viral disease affected some players. With the suspension of the team's top rusher, Joe Pusateri, for this week after getting ejected for retaliating last week, it's been a difficult season.

The Knights' 27-0 win over the 5-2 Cleveland Central Catholic Ironmen last week was big. Moeglin has not been as dynamic of a two-way quarterback since returning from injury, but he did have one rushing and one passing touchdown against CCC. It was the defense that really stepped up as the Knights played their best game of the year. Senior Evan Vernier picked off his first two passes of the season and the team had three interceptions. Nathan Rich and Jacob Fleenor, both sophomores, had defensive touchdowns via fumble recovery or return.

VASJ continues to click on offense in recent weeks led by the resurgence of All-Ohio running back Marvelle Ross. Tre'Von Williams and a host of receivers – Brandon Green, Aaron Roquemore, Kevin Roberts, Jacob Stauffer, etc. – complement the running game, which has gotten a boost of late from a solid offensive line.

Defensively, Tremayne Harvell and Howard Hill each had defensive touchdowns last week in a road win over Trinity. Erin Williams, Tre-Shon Walker-Smith, Mar-cel English and Malik Lozada are among the Vikings' top playmakers on defense.

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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