Aurora football gets taste of its own medicine in season opener vs. Brecksville

Michael Leonard
Kent Weeklies
Aurora's Jack Cardaman (6) looks for a block from James Ingram (74) during the Greemen's 35-21 home loss to Brecksville-Broadview Heights Aug. 28. Cardaman returned a kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown in the loss.

Nothing has gone according to plan this off-season for the Aurora football team.

The Greenmen saw their entire off-season conditioning program first rendered virtual and then truncated by the pandemic. Then, the program had to shut down for two weeks in July due to a positive COVID-19 test.

"I don't want to use it as an excuse, but from March on, we've been doing our workouts virtually," said Aurora coach Bob Mihalik. "We were not doing our typical workouts, then we had to shut down for two weeks. We're not where we need to be physically. We're behind, but everyone has to deal with it."

Despite this, the defending Division III state semifinalist had hoped to make a statement in their opening game Aug. 28 against Brecksville-Broadview Heights.

Instead, Mihalik said the Bees stung the Greenmen in a painful way.

"We pretty much got out-Aurora'd," Mihalik said. "We had done to us what we like to do to other teams."

Brecksville controlled the both lines of scrimmage en route to a 35-21 win over the Greenmen at Veterans Stadium.

Mihalik said the Bees were a good squad, but the Greenmen didn't help their own chances.

"We knew they were an excellent team coming back," Mihalik said. "They had 18 starters coming back. They've got a quarterback who's going to Iowa next year. The had a lot of quality players.

"We did a poor job of tackling and we weren't able to run the ball the way we usually do," Mihalik said. "We're taking it as a learning experience. There's plenty of blame to go around.

The most telling stat of the game was rushing yards, as Brecksville outrushed Aurora 170-83.

Much of that damage was done by Bees running back Garrett Kubitz, who ran for 118 yards and three touchdowns.

After a scoreless first quarter, Kubitz opened the scoring with a 3-yard touchdown plunge with 10:39 left in the half.

Brecksville running back Garrett Kubitz dives into the end zone against the Aurora defense during the Bees' 35-21 at Aurora Aug. 28. Kubitz ran for three touchdowns in the win.

On the ensuing kickoff, however, Aurora evened the scored a 7-7 when sophomore Jack Cardaman returned the ball 88 yards for a touchdown.

Mihalik said his kickoff return deserved praise. The problem was Aurora had to return six kickoffs on the night.

Kubitz would find the end zone twice more in the second quarter on runs of four and two yards, giving the Bees a 21-7 halftime lead.

In the third quarter, Brecksville took to the air to score as quarterback Joe Labas tossed a nine-yard touchdown pass to Trey Green to make it 28-7.

Labas went 11-of-22 for 149 yards and impressed Mihalik.

"He certainly looked like a Big Ten quarterback," Mihalik said. "We were impressed with a lot of their players."

Mihalik noted Aurora quarterback Alex Moore was under siege most o the night, but he did find Cardaman with a nine-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter. 

"Alex Moore battled really well, despite the fact the conditions were really slick," Mihalik said. "He did what he could."

Moore went 6-of-15 for 155 yards and two touchdowns, the second of which came on a 69-yard bomb to Ryan Weber in the last two minutes of the game.

Moore also led the Greenmen with 35 yards rushing on 13 carries, while Aiden Henderson added 32 yards on eight carries.

"Overall, they were the better football team," Mihalik said. "We didn't do a good job getting them ready. All we had for film on them was from last year. We thought we were ready, but they did a lot of things we hadn't seen on film. That's on the players and the coaches."

Aurora will look to rebound this week when it travels to face Suburban League American Conference foe Revere Friday at 7 p.m.

Mihalik noted he believes Aurora can be better.

"I believe the biggest improvement is between weeks one and two," Milhalik said. "We got a good workout on Saturday. The goal is to be a lot better against Revere."

Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, or @MLeonard_GAN on Twitter