Cuyahoga Falls football's season ends with close loss to WRA

Roger Gordon
Correspondent
Cuyahoga Falls running back Isaiah Campbell looking for running room during the Black Tigers' loss at Twinsburg Oct. 30.

Every time the Cuyahoga Falls football team scored, Hudson Western Reserve Academy responded by scoring itself.

Thus the Black Tigers came close but just could not get over the hump in their 36-28 loss to the Pioneers Nov. 6 in the regular-season finale at Cuyahoga Falls.

Cuyahoga Falls finished the season with an 0-10 record.

“It was almost a battle of attrition with all of the COVID restrictions and everything that both teams had,” Black Tigers head coach Shane Parker said. “We also had some injuries that kept players out of the game. We were down to our third-string quarterback, junior Jayden Hillier.

“It was a good game, a physical game. Our kids came out and played tough. Our seniors knew it was their last game, so there was a lot of emotion behind it. This is a special class. They were freshmen my first year as the head coach. It was very cool to see them grow up these last four years and watch them mature and grow into the young men that they’ve grown into.”

According to Parker, Western Reserve had some legitimate players.

“They have some kids going to some big-time schools, and they were able to make one or two more plays than we were,” he said. “That ended up being the difference in the game.

“I told our guys that we needed to come out and play with a chip on our shoulders, and they did that. They played with so much heart. I can’t say enough about how much these guys played for one another and laid everything they had out on the field.”

Thirteen penalties for 71 yards did not help matters for Cuyahoga Falls.

A 60-yard touchdown pass gave Western Reserve an 8-0 lead in the first quarter.

Cuyahoga Falls pulled within 8-7 after one quarter on a one-yard touchdown run by senior running back Kobe Brown, capping a long drive.

After a scoreless second quarter, Western Reserve upped its lead to 16-7 after three quarters on an 11-yard touchdown run.

The fourth quarter provided points galore for both teams. It began when the Pioneers expanded their lead to 22-7 on a 49-yard touchdown run.

Junior running back Isaiah Little ran for a 15-yard TD to the right to cut the Western Reserve lead to 22-14.

Western Reserve returned the ensuing kickoff 65 yards for a touchdown that made the score 28-14.

Little’s one-yard touchdown run brough the Black Tigers within 28-21, but the Pioneers responded with a 66-yard touchdown run to give them a 36-21 advantage.

Little’s 19-yard TD run with some four minutes to go accounted for the game’s final points.

“We didn’t try an onside kick because I thought that our defense was playing tough enough to where we could get the ball back,” said Parker. “But Western Reserve ran out the clock.”

Little finished with 107 yard rushing on just 11 carries, while Brown had 103 rushing yards, also on 11 carries. Senior running back Isaiah Campbell ran the ball 11 times for 36 yards.

“We want to be able to run the football and never get outhit or out-physicaled, and I think we did that in this game,” Parker said.

Hillier, normally a wide receiver, wound up completing six of 14 passes for 71 yards in his only start at quarterback on the season.

“I’d like to see Jayden clean up some things, but he had a pretty good night for his first start,” said the coach. “I think he made plays when plays presented themselves, and you can’t ask for much more than that.”

Brown completed three of five passes for 20 yards out of the wildcat formation.

Senior wide receiver Tyler Robinson caught two passes for 65 yards, including a 36-yarder.

“Tyler is one of those guys who comes to practice every day and works as hard as he can,” said Parker. “You never have to worry about him giving you everything he has. He’s a hard worker and has a huge heart. I’m really proud of his growth and his progression since he came in as a freshman to where he is now. He’s come a long way.”

Wideout Christian Casto, Robinson’s classmate, caught four passes for 21 yards and ran the ball twice for 31 yards, including a 32-yarder.

Defensively, senior lineman David Pask led the way with six tackles, including one for a loss, and a sack. Lineman Zak Dalton, Pask’s classmate, also had six tackles, including one for a loss. Robinson, doubling as a defender, recorded five tackles.

“It’s a bummer that it was Week 10 because I think we’re finally just now starting to figure things out,” Parker said. “It would be pretty cool to see these guys play a couple more weeks, but it is what it is, and we’re going to use it to motivate us for the offseason.

“Next year’s team is going to be physical, they’re going to be hungry and they’ll never be outworked.”