Published in The Chagrin Valley Times
September 23, 2021
How quickly the tables turned.
The Kenston Bombers football team looked outmatched against Lake Catholic by falling into a 17-0 hole in the first half. After making some adjustments, Kenston flipped the script on the Cougars in the second half and rallied for a 27-20 victory last Friday night at Kenston Bomber Stadium.
“It was a great win for our kids,” said coach Jeff Grubich. “We always talk about how football teaches life lessons. Our kids had some adversity come their way where things weren’t going exactly as planned and were able to fight through it and find a way to persevere and it paid off in the end.”
The Bombers (5-0, 2-0) tied the game at 20-20 late in the fourth quarter on a 5-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback J.P. Germano. Kenston forced a punt on Lake Catholic’s next possession and took over on its 26-yard line with just under two minutes to go.
“We had three timeouts and there was no panic,” explained Grubich. “Our coaching staff had gotten our guys prepared for that type of situation. Before we got the ball back, our offensive coaches told our guys on the sideline this is the situation. We have three timeouts. There’s no need to panic or rush. Let’s just run the football and do what we do and stay composed.”
Junior tailback Sean Patrick gave the Bombers their first lead of the night when he broke free for a 32-yard touchdown run with just :09 remaining.
“Sean is lightning in a bottle,” said Grubich. “Once you take that cork off, watch out. The offensive line was able to get a good push up front. Sean was able to get to the second level against Lake Catholic’s defense and made a couple of guys miss then outran them to the end zone. I was proud of Sean’s effort on that play. It’s the fourth quarter and a lot of guys are out of gas and we still had some gas in the tank and Sean emptied the tank on that run.”
Friday night’s game marked just the third time in school history that the Bombers played Lake Catholic. The only other times the teams met was during the postseason. Grubich said the team knew it was in for a stiff test against the reigning Division IV runners-up.
“The proof’s in the pudding,” noted Grubich. “They were in the state championship game last year for a reason and they showed it on Friday night. They had a great game plan for us and we had to make some adjustments in our coaching and get these guys to adjust a little bit and we were able to do that.”
The Cougars had all the momentum in the first quarter by playing stout defense leading to good field position.
“Unfortunately the offense put our defense in a couple of bad situations in the first half and gave Lake Catholic a short field,” said Grubich. “One thing we harp on defensively is to not give up a big play and we gave up a couple of big plays on defense last night in the first half.”
The Cougars struck first on a 29-yard touchdown catch by junior wide receiver Nick Brandt then went up 10-0 on a 29-yard field goal by senior kicker Jake Hite. Lake Catholic was on the verge of turning it into a blowout when senior quarterback Jaxon French connected with Brandt again, this time on a 26-yard touchdown pass to take a 17-
While Lake Catholic’s offense was soaring, the Bombers’ offense was stuck in neutral.
“The Cougars were changing the look defensively post and pre-snap on us,” explained Grubich. “They were bringing eight guys to the box and were bringing them to different angles all game long so it wasn’t the same guy coming into the box every single time. We were struggling to identify that.”
Kenston finally seemed find an answer when Germano scored his first touchdown of the game on a 5-yard run in the second quarter to trail 17-7.
“The offensive line did a good job at setting the edge up front,” noted Grubich. “J.P. was able to do what he does best which is find a seam and run it in there.”
The Cougars stretched the lead back to 20-7 on 31-yard field goal by Hite to close out the first half.
Lake Catholic kept the Bombers out of the end zone in the third quarter but Kenston continued to creep closer on senior kicker Parker Munday’s 32-yard and 33-yard field goals to cut the Cougars’ lead to 20-13.
After getting everything it wanted in the first half, Lake Catholic’s offense was now stalling.
“We just had to trust our coaching and assignments and keep our eyes up and see what the defense was doing,” explained Grubich. “Our kids were able to do that in the second half and take control offensively.
The dam soon burst when Germano scored his second touchdown to swing the tide in the Bombers’ favor.
Germano ran for 235 yards and two touchdowns on 35 carries while Patrick galloped for 163 yards and a touchdown on 26 runs. The Bombers totaled 385 yards on the ground.
“We have five good offensive lineman and believe we can wear teams down physically,” said Grubich. “We’ve got two guys in J.P. and Sean that are great runners and are dynamic in what they can do. We might not be able to break those big ones off and have that immediate success in the first half but believe we can wear teams down in the third and fourth quarter.”
The Bombers face their biggest test of the season when they travel to play Western Reserve Conference rival Chardon on Sep. 24 at 7 p.m.
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