Aurora football wins big in makeshift game with Bishop Sycamore

Steve Batko
Correspondent
Aurora running back Evan McVay strides into the end zone during the Greenmen's win at Tallmadge Sept. 11.

To the credit of the Aurora football program and its crafty engineer – veteran head coach Bob Mihalik – the Greenmen handled a bit of adversity and brought their lunch pails to their recent game.

Aurora’s scheduled league game at Kent Roosevelt was canceled for Sept. 18 as the Rough Riders were shut down due to COVID-19.

Monday afternoon rolls around and suddenly Aurora officials were able to schedule a game for Sept. 18. against Columbus Bishop Sycamore at home.

The Greenmen won impressively 31-8 in the home non-league clash to move to 3-1 overall.

It was a workmanlike performance by Aurora.

“I was proud of how our young men and coaching staff handled the cancelled game and a new opponent with a short week of preparation,” said Mihalik.

“We didn’t find out about Sycamore until Monday afternoon and it was a late night of watching film and prepping by the staff, and then our players having one less day to learn execute the game plan.”

A non-OHSAA member that is operates as a club sport since last year, Sycamore is an alternative on-line charter school that features post graduates like a prep school.

Blessed with tremendous size, the Centurions (0-3) lost 33-6 against Cleveland St. Ignatius and also lost to Massillon 35-0 as programs scramble to pick up foes during COVID-19.

Aurora held its own against Sycamore and its size, which included 6-foot-2, 240-pound quarterback Joshua Logan.

“I thought our offensive line did a great job against a really big team, allowing us to rush for 225 yards,” said Mihalik, who had special praise in the trenches for 6-5, 270-pound senior Michael Sedar, 6-3, 290-pound junior Kevin Paul and 6-2, 220-pound senior Aiden Ricketts.

The Greenmen again featured a balanced diverse running game, led by junior back Aiden Henderson, who had a game-high 97 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns.

This fall, Aurora has had 11 different athletes rush the ball and seven have scored.

Meanwhile, the Aurora defense swarmed to the ball, limiting Sycamore to just 166 total yards.

Mihalik saw his defense hold Sycamore to just 65 yards rushing and a 2.1-yard average per carry.

The cannon-armed Logan was held to just 88 yards passing on five completions while he had five rushes for 17 yards.

“It was a total team performance defensively,” praised Mihalik.

Juniors Ashton Messner and Jacob Matousek had interceptions for Aurora while senior defensive end Dylan DelRosa was credited with two sacks.

Also praised on defense by Mihalik was senior end Sam LoGalbo, senior tackle Toto Gomez (who had a fumble recovery) and junior linebacker Ryan Papesh.

Quarterback Alex Moore managed the game well and the junior was 5-12 passing for 77 yards.

Aurora threatened early, but a sack by Sycamore end Enrico Weathington ended the hosts on downs in the red zone.

Henderson then scored a TD as he bounced outside for a 19-yard scoring run behind a nice seal block by Papesh.

Senior Mason Bizjak booted the extra point and Aurora led 7-0 at the 2:18 mark of the first period.

Sycamore responded as Logan threw a perfect 55-yard bomb near the sideline in tight coverage to wide out Jaylin Norwood, a Cincinnati La Salle transfer.

Driving into the Aurora red zone, the Greenmen defense held behind two straight tackles behind the line by LoGalbo and junior Ashton Price. Logan had an incomplete pass on fourth down.

Aurora responded on a strong offensive call and execution on fourth-and-11 on the next drive.

Moore rolled right and had a throwback to the left to Price, the tight end, for a 13-yard first down.

Then senior Evan McVay scored on a 1-yard run to cap an 80-yard drive and the PAT made it 14-0 with 5:55 left in the first half.

After Aurora stalled on downs in the red zone, special teams play was a factor just before halftime.

On a high punt snap, Aurora junior Matt Hauptner tripped up the punter and gave the hosts the ball at the Centurions’ 15 with 43 ticks left.

The play led to a 29-yard field goal by Bizjak with 10 seconds left to make it 17-0.

Another poor punt snap led to another Aurora score early in the second half as the hosts started at the Sycamore 5.

That’s when Matousek scored from five yards out as the slotback ran around end. The PAT made it 24-0 at the 9:29 mark.

A 48-yard kickoff return by Sycamore led to their only score – a 12-yard scamper by Josh Bogan. A 2-point conversion sliced the lead to 24-8 with 7:33 left in the third stanza.

Henderson then scored on a 2-yard TD burst with 2:11 left to cap the scoring.