Bevington's big night leads CVCA football to rout of Manchester
Michael Bevington is the ultimate dual-threat quarterback.
The Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy senior has been doing it all season long, especially the last four weeks.
In leading CVCA to a regular-season-ending 48-7 rout of Principals Athletic Conference rival Manchester Oct. 2 at Royals Stadium, Bevington ran the ball 18 times for 216 yards with four touchdowns, including three long ones. For good measure, he completed 13 of 19 passes for 115 yards with a touchdown.
CVCA improved to 4-2 on the season both overall and in the PAC-7.
“What’s neat about Michael as a dual-threat QB is that I don’t have a quota,” Royals head coach Dan Larlham said. “I’m not looking for this many run plays or that many pass plays. I’m just trying to call plays that I think are going to work.
“When it calls for the quarterback to run the ball, we think Michael is the best in the conference. When it calls for the quarterback to throw the ball, we think he’s the best in the conference. So he’s not this cyborg that can do everything really, really perfectly and that’s it. But whenever we need that run play or that pass play, I feel like he’s trained and prepared himself to be the best in the conference.
“There were a few spots where it seemed like there was only one play in the playbook we could’ve called. What I mean is, we put ourselves in a couple bad positions, but when the chips were down we knew we had to get the ball to Michael, and he scored on those big, long ones for us.”
According to Larlham, Bevington is mentally, physically and emotionally tough.
“When you play some of the more ‘tough-guy’ positions,” he said, “a lot of the time you don’t respect the quarterback because the quarterback is sometimes labeled as a soft player, but everybody respects Michael because of how he plays the game. He’s incredibly tough.
“He’s also connected to me as a play caller in that he understands where I want the football to go. His job is to facilitate the football, so as long as he gets it where it’s supposed to go, we’re in a good spot, and he does that game in and game out.”
The big win over Manchester put an exclamation point on the fact that CVCA did not exactly “back in” to the expanded playoffs. The three previous weeks, the Royals pounded Orrville 41-12, then outscored Tuslaw 62-43 and then easily dismantled Loudonville 56-23.
“We were again extremely aggressive,” said Larlham. “We were pushing the ball down the field a lot, and that was even in the running game, which seems a little counter-intuitive that you can push the ball down field by running the ball. But we were taking big chances in both throwing the ball and running the ball, and we hit on most of them, not all of them, but enough to make the scoreboard favor us.”
Sophomore running back Kyle Snider continued his outstanding season by rushing for 162 yards with two touchdowns on just 17 carries.
“It was a very quiet 162 yards for Kyle,” Larlham said. “For a long time, we didn’t know if he had more than 100 yards. We were kind of shocked to see him have 162. I think he’s averaging 10 yards a carry this season. He is quietly one of the best running backs in the conference and maybe in school history. He’s just always, always getting us positive yards and converting first downs.”
Junior wide receiver Brennan Darr had three receptions for 54 yards with a touchdown, while senior wideout David Lewis caught five passes for 29 yards.
“Brennan and David are our primary two targets,” said the coach. “They catch the ball, they break tackles, they block when they don’t have the ball. They fit into our offense really well. We’re happy with what they’re doing.”
Larlham said it was his team’s finest defensive performance of the season.
“Our defense was two steps ahead of Manchester’s offense all night,” he said. “Our coaches, our players on the sideline, were yelling out what they were going to run before they ran their plays because we study film and we prepare. It seemed like Manchester hadn’t practiced as much as we had.
“For the third week in a row, Logan Scranton, a freshman inside linebacker, recovered a fumble, and I think that’s key for us. We’re getting turnovers when we need to get turnovers.
“Bryce Kightlinger, a senior outside linebacker, played his most complete football game of the season. He was making tackles in the open field, which was key to keeping those guys under 50 (36) yards rushing.”
CVCA took a 7-0 lead on its opening possession of the game when Bevington ran for a 39-yard touchdown.
“It was about third-and-15, so we were in a really ugly spot,” said Larlham. “We faked to a receiver, Kyle led with a lead blocker to the left and Michael followed him.”
Ten- and 22-yard touchdown runs by Snider gave the home team a 20-0 lead after one quarter.
The score remained the same until the third quarter when Mason Paljich scored from five yards out to cut the Panthers’ deficit to 20-7.
Less than three minutes later, CVCA put the game out of reach at 27-7 on a nine-yard touchdown run by Bevington, who went untouched into the end zone on a sweep.
Bevington then completed a 33-yard TD strike to Darr to increase the Royals’ lead to 34-7.
Still in the third quarter, Bevington scored untouched on a 56-yard touchdown run to make it 41-7. He put the icing on the cake midway through the fourth period when he ripped off a 69-yard TD run down the right side.
“Our receivers – David, freshman Ty Bova and junior Eli Diakandru – did a great job blocking on that play,” Larlham said.
CVCA is scheduled to host Ashtabula Edgewood in a Division IV first-round playoff game Oct. 10 at 7 p.m.