Learning just how to finish high school football games can be a challenge for young squads that lack the experience.
Just ask Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy football coach Dan Larlham after his club lost 32-14 Sept. 2 on the road at Campbell Memorial.
CVCA (0-2) fought back from a 19-0 deficit with a chance to gain the lead down by five points early in the fourth period against the Division V Red Devils (1-1).
With a golden opportunity, the Royals had a chance to get a defensive stop and get right back into the game, but Campbell Memorial scored as speedster Yianni Koullias struck again.
Koullias, who finished with 285 all-purpose yards in the win, responded and scored on a 47-yard touchdown run. He had 24 carries for 223 yards and two touchdowns.
"We just need to start finishing games," said Larlham.
"Our team is young and that means we don't have enough guys that know how to win yet. I tell them all of the time that it's hard to win a football game," he added.
"A million things must go your way and you have to be able to move past the things that don't go your way."
After a scoreless first quarter, the Red Devils vaulted to a 12-0 lead at the half that was pushed to 19-0 in the third period.
Sophomore Tre Tucker, who played wide receiver and quarterback in the game, got CVCA on the board in the third stanza with a 10-yard touchdown scamper. That made it 19-7 heading into the fourth quarter.
Starting quarterback Brock Simmons, a developing sophomore with promise, came back in and tossed a 45-yard scoring pass to Tucker. After freshman kicker Chris DeLucia booted his second PAT kick, it was 19-14.
That's when Campbell Memorial and Koullias struck again to make it 26-14. He would later add an 18-yard touchdown run.
Tucker had a huge game with eight rushes for 112 yards and one touchdown. He also had seven receptions for 158 yards and a TD. Tucker did not attempt a pass, but amassed 270 total yards.
"Each week, we know Tre is one of the best athletes on the field," stated Larlham. "By snapping him the football directly, we are able to keep the ball in his hands almost exclusively. He is targeted in the pass game, but taking the snap opens a lot up for us on offense."
Although he has struggled at time like any other sophomore signal caller, Simmons had a solid game. He was 11-23 passing for 170 yards, one TD, and one interception.
Senior two-way standout Jay Woodlee also chipped in 34 yards rushing while junior wide receiver Isaac Strausser had two catches for 23 yards. Junior wide out Ryan Kovar had one catch for 9 yards.
For Campbell Memorial, QB Darion Jones passed for 87 yards and a TD to Koullias, plus Jones ran for 23 yards and another score.
Senior defensive lineman Pat Butler, junior strong safety Jack Atwood, and freshman defensive lineman Breslin Walker also drew praise from Larlham.
"Atwood has put himself around the ball a bunch for us on defense," said the coach. "He is a great athlete who is feeling more comfortable on a daily basis."
Larlham and his staff have planted the seeds and are showing patience.
CVCA was set to travel Pepper Pike Orange Sept. 9, but results were not available at press time.
The Royals will open Principals' Athletic Conference play Sept. 16 at Tuscarawas Valley at 7 p.m.