After slow start, Stow football pulls away from Highland

Michael Leonard
Kent Weeklies
Stow-Munroe Falls senior wide receiver Dalen Stovall brings down a pass for a touchdown during the Bulldogs' 31-7 win over Medina Highland Sept. 11 at Bulldog Stadium.
Stow-Munroe Falls senior running back DeAnthony Becton breaks free for a 33-yard touchdown run during the Bulldogs' 31-7 home win over Medina Highland Sept. 11.

Stow-Munroe Falls football coach Tom Phillips is bemused with all the COVID-19 disruption.

A week after the Bulldogs had their week two contest with Wadsworth cancelled due to a positive COVID-19 team at Wadsworth, Stow had to restart is season by taking on Medina Highland Sept. 11 at Bulldog Stadium.

"Without scrimmages, it was our second competitive game," Phillips said. "We've got a lot of things that didn't go our way. but we're trying to work through it. Anything that takes away a competition day is never good.

"In a normal season, by now we would have had six competitive games, including the scrimmages," he added. "Instead, we have played two. We're still trying to find out what the mojo is for this team."

Phillips might not know what the Bulldogs' mojo is yet, but that mojo has been working to get Stow to 2-0.

A big night rushing and a solid defensive game paved the way for a 31-7 Stow win over the Hornets Sept. 11.

"I think we started to run the ball on them," Phillips said. "What I saw that I like most was, we were able to come out and finish a game."

For the second straight game, it the Bulldogs' offense some time to get going, as the some early turnovers cost Stow momentum.

"The reality is its the second team that we've started slow again," Phillips said. "It's a typical early season. We're still trying to find our identy. We're just going to keep working on it."

Stow was able to open the scoring with 7:09 left in the first half, as Quarterback Owen Bainbridge found Dalen Stovall with a 9-yard touchdown pass. Running back DeAnthony Becton then ran in the two-point conversion to make it 8-0.

Stovall also snagged an interception in the victory.

It was an up-and-down night for Bainbridge. He went 11-of-20 for 113 yards passing with one touchdown and two interceptions. Bainbridge also ran for 34 yards and a touchdown.

Phillips noted he wanted to see more from his junior quarterback.

"I think he improved from week one to week two," Phillips said. "His completion rate is not where we want it. We want it to be 64 percent or better."

Meanwhile, Becton and safety Sekou Kamara have provided a late boost to the Bulldogs. Both transferred into Stow from Akron East High School after the Akron Public Schools initially decided not to play fall sports.

"[Becton] has only been here for two-and-a-half weeks," Phillips said. "They just wanted football. When Akron decided to start up again, we asked if they wanted to go back, but they said we're more comfortable here. They fit in well. That was their first game. We held them out of the first game."

Highland would cut the lead to 8-7 when Lukas Stiles scored on a 1-yard touchdown run with 3:56 left in the half.

Stow would push the lead to 16-8 with 3:13 left in the third quarter as the Bulldogs moved into running mode.

Bainbridge ran in a 9-yard touchdown run and then ran in the two point conversion himself.

Stow finished the contest with a 366-40 edge in rushing yards, as the Bulldogs ground down the Hornets late.

Xavier Preston led the Bulldogs with 12 rushes for 107 yards, but it was a pair of long runs in the fourth quarter, which allowed Stow to run away with the contest.

First, Becton would break loose for a 33-yard touchdown run with 6:52 left in the game. Again, Stow would run in a two-point conversion, this time from fullback Teddy Gregory.

Becton finished with eight rushes for 82 yards and a touchdown in his first game as a Bulldogs.

The knockout blow came with 4:24 left in game when Stow had its biggest play of the night, as Mikal Azar ripped off an 81-yard touchdown run.

"He had a nice run," Phillips said. "We have to find a good role for him on our team. He's a good athlete."

Azar finished with 95 yards rushing.

Jack Costa led Stow with three catches for 36 yards.

Phillips made it clear he wants his team to play better coming out of the gate.

"We want to come out and not wait until the second half to get going," Phillips said.

Stow was set to face North Royalton Sept. 18 on the road. The Bulldogs are scheduled to host Brecksville-Broadview Heights Sept. 26 at 7 p.m.

"We just focus on us," Phillips said. "We just want to be improving the things we can."