Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy football coach Dan Larlham said his team didn’t dwell on its week two loss at Aurora.
"Our guys like practicing. But games can’t get here fast enough after losses," Larlham said. "Getting a chance to right the ship Friday night was good."
The Royals did right the ship Friday at Canton South, as all three phases of the game contributed to a 32-3 victory. CVCA improved to 2-1 with the win, while the Wildcats dropped to 0-3.
CVCA got off to the perfect start: Senior Tre Tucker returned the opening kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown.
"Their coach told me that he told his kids all week, ‘We can’t kick to that kid,’" Larlham said. "Any time he touches the ball, he’s a threat to take it all the way. Whenever they kick to him, they know somethings special is about to happen."
However, CVCA missed the extra point. Larlham noted a combination of bad weather, bad snaps and inexperience led to two missed extra points on the night for the Royals.
But the kicking team redeemed itself, as kicker Bryce Kightlinger nailed a 26-yard field goal in the second quarter and a 32-yarder in the third quarter.
After the opening touchdown, Canton South replied with a 31-yard field goal from Brady Noll, but that would be it for the Wildcats.
Larlham noted the return of seniors Noah Bishop and Josh Junko from the concussion protocol helped the Royals’ defense, as did the addition of freshmen Brant Simmons and Noah Atwood to the Royals’ secondary.
Wildcats quarterback Riley James went just 6-of-27 for 83 yards and three interceptions — one each by Simmons, Austin Williams and Jaxson Bergkopf for the Royals. What’s more, CVCA limited the Wildcats to 87 yards rushing one 38 carries.
Larlham noted it took awhile for CVCA to find its rhythm on offense.
"They were changing their defensive front up all night," Larlham said. "We have some inexperience on our offensive line. They threw for us a loop. We were able to make our adjustments.
Despite the slow start, CVCA running back Jordan Decatur had a big night, rushing 18 times for 179 yards. Decatur scored on an 18-yard run late in the second quarter, giving CVCA a 15-3 halftime lead.
"It’s fun having him for a whole year," Larlham said of Decatur. "He wanted to experience a full football season. Man, is he dangerous. He’s a humble leader."
Larlham said the first offensive touchdown drive for CVCA was quarterback Michael Bevington’s best of the season in terms of "quarterbacking." Bevington went 7-of-13 for 77 yards passing on the night.
"He’s playing in the backyard still. He’s not playing quarterback just yet," Larlham said. "We saw all facets of our triple option game come out."
CVCA’s lead was only 18-3 heading into the fourth quarter until two big plays put things out of reach.
First, Tucker scored his second touchdown of the night, running in 31-yard TD. Tucker ran four times for 50 yards and caught two passes for 40 yards in the win.
Then, Decatur capped the win with a 68-yard touchdown run.
CVCA was set to open play in the Principals’ Athletic Conference Friday, as Fairless was set to visit Royals’ Stadium. The Falcons pulled out a 38-35 win over the Royals last year and Larlham admitted he hoped his team could get a little revenge.
"They’ve got a bunch of guys I’d like to have on our roster," Larlham said of Fairless. "I’m hoping we can keep it close and make some plays at the end. They’re a little young, but they’ve got some football players."
Up next, the Royals will travel to Canal Fulton to face Northwest next Friday at 7 p.m.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MLeonard_RPC.