Second time is not the charm as Copley beats Falls football

Roger Gordon
Cuyahoga Falls senior Elijah Hicks runs the ball during a game against Aurora earlier this season

By the time the Cuyahoga Falls football team woke up, it was too late, way too late.

The visiting Black Tigers outscored Suburban League crossover rival Copley 20-0 in the fourth quarter Oct. 2 but had dug themselves too deep of a hole to dig out of. They still lost to the Indians 41-20, falling to 0-5 on the season.

With a scheduling quirk in this already strange year due to the pandemic, it was the second time the two teams played one another this season. Cuyahoga Falls lost to Copley 40-6 Sept. 4 in its season opener.

“Copley came out with a good game plan and executed it well,” Cuyahoga Falls head coach Shane Parker said. “They have a lot of talent, including a couple guys who are going on to play big-time college football.

“It required perfect execution on our part, and we didn’t have that. I’m really proud of our guys, though, for not quitting towards the end. There’s a lot to build off of that.”

Cuyahoga Falls piled up 447 total yards, but that achievement went for naught.

“We had good gains, but we just couldn’t string good drives together,” said Parker. “Turnovers and drives stalling out hurt us.”

Copley took an early 7-0 lead when quarterback Joe Reho threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Trent Wininger. Reho’s 17-yard touchdown strike to Wininger upped the Indians’ lead to 14-0.

A 45-yard TD strike from Reho to Antoine Campbell gave the home team a 21-0 lead after the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Ryan Poundstone intercepted a pass by sophomore quarterback Vonte Jackson and returned the ball for a touchdown and a 28-0 Copley lead. Reho’s 29-yard TD pass to Darryl Pringle increased the Indians’ advantage to 34-0 at halftime.

Pringle caught a one-yard touchdown pass from DaOne Owens in the third quarter to make the score 41-0.

Cuyahoga Falls finally got on the board in the fourth quarter on a four-yard touchdown run by senior running back Kobe Brown, making the score 41-7.

Twenty-two and 18-yard TD runs by senior running back Isaiah Campbell accounted for the final points of the game.

Jackson completed seven of 19 passes for 110 yards with two interceptions. He ran the ball eight times for 45 yards.

“Vonte did a decent job with his feet, but our passing game still isn’t as efficient as I’d like it to be,” Parker said. “We have to do a better job of taking what the defense gives us and not always shooting for the home run.”

Jackson got nicked up a little and was replaced by junior Tyler Harris, who went 4-of-5 for 25 yards.

“Tyler did a good job coming in off the bench,” said the coach. “It’s always kind of hard to come in and be the quarterback of a team when coming off the bench.”

Campbell rushed for 126 yards on only 10 carries, with a long of 29 yards. Brown ran the ball a dozen times for 98 yards, including a long of 31 yards.

“Isaiah had a nice game running the football,” Parker said. “The coaching staff has had a tremendous amount of confidence in him all season long. He’s starting to get a little more confidence in his ability, and it’s starting to show in his performance. He’s starting to click, and I’m glad to see that.

“Kobe puts his head down, runs with his shoulders out and refuses to be denied. We’re really happy with the way he continues to grow and get better. He gets better every week.”

Senior wide receiver Christian Casto had five receptions for 59 yards and ran the ball three times for 27 yards, with a long of 19 yards. Senior running back Isaac Puchajda caught three passes for 39 yards.

“Christian had a nice night receiving,” said Parker. “He’s our senior leader at that position, and we expect him to have that every week.

“Isaac has been a steady force out of the backfield in the receiving game, so it’s nice to see him get some touches. He also blocks all game even though it doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. All of his hard work is paying off.”

Senior running back Elijah Hicks ran the ball twice for 16 yards and had a single 19-yard reception. Junior wideout Jayden Hillier caught two passes for 18 yards.

Defensively, senior inside linebacker Jonny Cheek led the way with 11 tackles, including two for losses.

Puchajda, doubling at outside linebacker, recorded nine tackles, as did safety Isaiah Little. Inside linebacker Jared Andrews had eight tackles.

“Even though the scoreboard says we gave a lot of points, I thought we did a pretty decent job of flying around and getting to the football,” Parker said. “It was nice to see our pursuit of the ball and to see the guys getting after it and pushing themselves regardless of what the score was.”

Cuyahoga Falls is scheduled to play at Boardman in a Division II first-round playoff game Oct. 9 at 7 p.m