The Cuyahoga Falls High School football team opened play in the National Conference of the Suburban League this past week, and the Black Tigers had their work cut out for them in the form of the Brecksville-Broadview Heights Bees.
Falls welcomed the Bees to town Sept. 16, and Brecksville hung a 41-7 loss on the Black Tigers.
With the win, the Bees remained undefeated with records of 4-0 overall and 1-0 within the conference. Cuyahoga Falls, meanwhile, dipped to marks of 1-3 and 0-1.
According to Falls head coach Sean Flaherty, Brecksville presented a challenge to the Black Tigers in a number of different areas.
"We knew going in that they had a good team -- a good quarterback and a tough defense," said Flaherty. "Unfortunately, we couldn't get anything going."
Brecksville initiated a balanced scoring attack in the first half, putting 13 points on the board in the opening quarter and adding another 14 points during the second period.
Senior quarterback Luke Strnad accounted for three touchdowns in that stretch, throwing scoring aerials covering 11, 32, and three yards.
Alec Buckley tallied the other Brecksville touchdown in the first half on a seven-yard dash to the end zone. As a result, the Bees held a commanding 27-0 advantage at intermission.
Brecksville added two more touchdowns in the third stanza. First, Buckley contributed another score on a 16-yard dash to pay dirt. Then Jordan Shaheen galloped 33 yards to the end zone. Consequently, the Bees carried a 41-0 lead with them to the fourth quarter.
Cuyahoga Falls cracked the scoreboard in the final frame when senior running back Jake Gruic reached the end zone on a six-yard touchdown run. Senior placekicker Greg McDevitt booted the extra point to account for the game's final tally.
Gruic led the rushing attack for Falls, racking up 66 yards on 18 carries. Senior quarterback Nate Vassalotti completed 17-of-30 pass attempts for 134 yards. He was also intercepted twice and sacked once.
Junior Ben Kinker was the leading receiver for Falls, catching six passes for 30 yards, while senior wideout Jace Barrett was next with four receptions for 45 yards. In addition, senior wide receiver Nick Siegferth nabbed three balls for 19 yards. Catching two passes apiece were junior wide receiver Tyler Gibson (29 yards) and sophomore running back Daizhaun Brazile (11 yards).
"Tyler Gibson did a great job for us on both sides of the ball, at wide receiver and at outside linebacker," said Flaherty. "He displayed outstanding speed at the linebacker position."
Despite the fact that the Black Tigers have only won once in four outings, Flaherty is pleased by the effort the team has displayed to this point in the campaign.
"The thing I'm most proud of is the fact that these kids continue to play hard no matter what the situation," said Flaherty. "We're more competitive right how than where we were last year at this time. Even in the games we're losing, we're more competitive. If we keep playing hard and putting forth this kind of effort, good things will happen."
On Sept. 23, Cuyahoga Falls was scheduled to battle conference rival Wadsworth on the road, but results were not available at press time.
Flaherty expects another set of challenges from the Grizzlies.
"They're a good team with a good coach, but it's another chance for us to be competitive," he said. "If we play the way we're capable of playing, we can put ourselves in a position to win."
Falls will host Hudson Sept. 30 at 7 p.m.