HUDSON — Regardless of what happens between the lines, David Blue and Bobby Lyle plan to remain friends forever.
Blue, the longtime Hudson head boys lacrosse coach, has known Lyle for what seems like an eternity.
Lyle played lacrosse for the Explorers and also spent a number of years as Blue’s assistant coach.
Nowadays, Lyle has the difficult task of getting the best of his alma mater and his former coach with a team that has been Hudson’s whipping boy for many years.
Lyle’s troops are getting closer, but the Explorers still remain supreme against their Stark County rivals.
Thanks to a strong second half, host Hudson improved to 5-1 in 2018 after earning a 12-9 victory over Massillon Jackson April 10 at Hudson Memorial Stadium.
When the contest ended, Blue shared some kind words for his former pupil and protege, who is now in his third year as the Polar Bears head coach.
"Bobby is one of my favorite players," said Blue, who has had several former players become high school coaches over the years. "He obviously coached for us and will always be a part of the Hudson lacrosse program."
Lyle, who also is quite familiar with Blue’s assistant coaches and players, may have gotten some grief from his old friends after the match.
"We have some back-and-forth banter," Lyle said. "Dave, (assistant coaches) Todd (Sidle) and Logan (Parsons) have been very good friends of mine. Dave has been a major influence on me."
The Explorers, who have not lost to Jackson (5-2) since the 2012 regular season (Hudson eventually defeated the Polar Bears in the postseason that year), took control with five unanswered goals in the first 18-plus minutes of the second half.
"Jackson is one of the powerhouses in Stark County," Blue said. "Bobby is trying to develop a program and we’re a good model for them."
With the scored tied at five, junior attack Mason Prisk gave the Explorers the lead for good (6-5) when he found the net off an assist from junior midfielder Merrick Widdoes with 3:43 left in the third quarter.
Hudson was just getting started.
Prisk added his second goal nearly three minutes later and the Explorers added three more tallies in a span of nearly five minutes in the fourth.
Widdoes made it 8-5 a little more than 90 seconds into the final period off an assist from junior midfielder Brady Ludewig.
Nine seconds later, senior midfielder Angelo Donatelli won the faceoff, raced down the field and found senior attack Joe Graf near the goal. Graf easily scored from point-blank range to make it 9-5.
Hudson put it away at the 5:38 mark when junior midfielder Blake Lori made a spin move and then blasted a shot between the pipes.
"We stressed that they were going to go on their runs," Lyle said. "We both made our runs, but we let one of their runs go too long. We dug ourselves in too deep of a hole."
The Polar Bears’ offense awoke from its slumber and when senior midfielder Carson Potere scored with 2:09 left, Hudson’s lead was just three (12-9).
But the Explorers won the next faceoff and kept the ball away from Jackson in the final two minutes.
"We kept going," Lyle said. "We didn’t give up. I’m proud of the effort."
Prior to the second half, Hudson got a huge momentum boost when Graf scored on an assist by Lori just as time expired. That gave the Explorers a 5-4 advantage at halftime.
Graf finished with three goals and Ludewig had three goals and one assist.
Widdoes and senior attack Anthony Rightnour each had one goal and one assist and senior attack Pat Burdett had one goal. Lori and senior defenseman Danny Saxon also had one assist apiece.
Donatelli added an assist and had 14 face-off wins, particularly in the second half. Explorers’ senior goalie Matt Withem made 13 saves.
"Angelo and Brady got the game ball," Blue said. "Angelo did a great job of fighting hard. He got some big ground balls. He fights for everything."
Jackson’s top offensive threat was senior midfielder John Thomas, who had a match-high five goals.
"We didn’t stop him," Blue said of Thomas. "He’s an All-American kid and is one of the best around."
Thomas plans to continue his academic and lacrosse careers at Salisbury University in Maryland.
"He’s a gamer," Lyle said. "He excels in the big games. He was definitely a bright spot for us."
Potere and junior attack Cole Remlinger each had two goals and sophomore attack Jack Dennis and sophomore defenseman Andrew Barnes each had one assist for the Polar Bears, who had a 34-33 advantage in shots taken.
The Explorers had a 31-20 advantage in ground balls. Hudson also converted 12 of its 15 clearing opportunities and held Jackson to just one goal in five extra-man chances.
Since Blue and Lyle have known each other for a long time, both coaches were familiar with each other’s styles.
At times, the student may have gotten carried away with utilizing his teacher’s strategy.
"Because his system is so similar to ours, he calls his plays by the same names as we do," Blue said. "We get a laugh out of it."