Aurora -- Coach Bob Mihalik liked how his Greenmen football squad beat a thriving Barberton unit in a tough league game. He also likes the fact his club can play even better.
Aurora's defense forced two turnovers and dominated until the offense got going in the wild 49-28 home win Sept. 23.
The Greenmen moved to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the Suburban League American Conference by outgaining the Magics 287 to 93 yards on the ground.
"You have to respect Barberton; its an up-and- coming program," said Mihalik. "They have a heck of an offense."
Aurora got caught several times on containment issues, but the Magics had something to do with that. Meanwhile, AHS seniors Bubba Arslanian and Mac Austin were sensational.
Arslanian was all over the field from his inside linebacker post and as fullback. On defense, he managed a whopping 19 tackles, including 12 solos. He had 2 tackles for losses, 2 quarterback hurries and one sack.
One play saw Arslanian blitz up the middle and was picked up fairly well, but he raced 20 yards down the field to get the tackle on the sideline. "He is a freak," said Mihalik.
"I've been coaching for 26 years and I've never coached a better all-around football player. There is nothing he can't do."
Arslanian also had a 28-yard screen pass where he went about 4 feet in the air, hurdling Barberton's Dee Smith near the sideline. The play set up Arslanian's 20-yard touchdown run to give Aurora a 21-0 lead late in the first half.
IN ALL, Arslanian had 96 yards rushing on 7 carries and 2 TDs, including a 65-yard TD burst in which he stiff-armed a defender. He also had a 52-yard kickoff return.
When Austin scored on a 5-yard run to push the lead to 28-7 with 8:03 left in the third period, he ran up the middle behind Arslanian.
"It's amazing that he doesn't have a scholarship offer yet," said his coach. "Maybe it's because he's only 5-foot-10."
After a slow start, Aurora's offense rolled behind Austin's disciplined play and accurate passing.
He ran for a career-high 103 yards on 15 carries and 3 TDs. Through the air, he was 7 of 8 for 138 yards, a TD and no interceptions.
"Mac is in his first year of starting and he is growing with more experience each game," Mihalik said. "This was a breakout game for him. I think he ran well on the zone read on the back side, and it opened up the running game."
Looking like Fran Tarkenton, Magic QB Zane Ries scrambled and tried to make plays, throwing for 330 yards on 19 of 34 and 3 TDs.
Keye Thompson, who had 234 total yards, caught 5 passes for 158 yards, and added 16 rushes for 76 yards.
Bruising 260-pound middle linebacker / tight end Kobie Booker also was a threat on both sides, catching 2 TD passes. "You have to pick your poison with Barberton; they throw the ball all over the place," said Mihalik.
After senior corner Jonathan Blue picked off Ries on the opening drive, Garrett Turnbaugh returned the favor for the Magics with a fumble recovery.
Ries forced another pass as AHS senior cornerback Jimmy Richards picked him off and raced 35 yards down the sideline for a TD.
JUNIOR Robby Albrecht made the first of his seven extra points, and a 3-yard keeper by Austin made it 14-0 at the 10:17 mark of the second period. Austin had a 48-yard run to set it up.
However, Aurora managed only one first down in the first quarter that saw the Greenmen gain 13 total yards until Chris Vanzo's 15-yard run. Vanzo gained 75 yards on the night.
Ries responded with an 87-yard drive and a gorgeous 30-yard TD pass to Booker.
Strong running by Vanzo led Aurora to a 5-yard run by Austin to make it 28-7, but a 56-yard pass to Thompson set up Barberton's 11-yard TD pass to Booker to cut the lead to 28-14.
AHS drove the ball again and scored on Austin's 16-yard run with 2:57 left in the third. Thompson struck again when he caught a pass from Ries and cut across the field for a 72-yard TD.
Then Arslanian stiff-armed a defender and outraced everyone on a 65-yard scamper, resulting in the third TD in 1:13.
Barberton had a 12-play, 75-yard scoring drive capped by Thompson's 7-yard TD run to cut the lead to 42-28 with 7:23 left.
AHS senior J.T. Rose then made a couple of key plays, recovering an onside kick after Thompson's score and hauling in a 20-yard TD pass from Austin with 35 seconds left.
"Our defense hung in there," said Mihalik, noting junior middle linebacker Cole Miller is out for the season with an ACL tear.
Subbing for Miller is Brent Henderson (8 tackles and one QB hurry), who was aided by Nate Smierciak (8 stops), Caleb Tinsley (5 stops and 2 tackles behind the line), Gavin Blunt, David Donley, Blue and Lovell.
"Henderson is very smart and it's tough for Cole [Miller], but Brent is playing well," said Mihalik.
The Greenmen will host Medina Highland on Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. in the local Homecoming game.