Weekly Feature



2017-09-14 / Sports

Wahler’s big game lifts Eagle gridders to lopsided victory in league opener

by JASON NADOLINSKI
Reporter

Aaron Wahler nearly single handedly put away Wilson in Cleveland Hill’s league-opening football game Friday, scoring the first three touchdowns of the game — and the Eagles’ first four touchdowns total — to help left them to a 48-7 triumph under the lights on the road.

Wahler completed scoring drives with runs of 2, 3, 8 and 47 yards, respectively, as Cleveland Hill was able to put the memory of its week one setback to crosstown non-league rival Maryvale far behind it.

“We were definitely pleased with our performance, especially with it being our league opener,” coach Glen Graham said. “It was a must-win game in our eyes, so we were happy to come out of it with the win. There’s still some things we found that we have to work on, but overall it was a really good bounce-back for us.”

Wahler did the bulk of his damage in the second quarter following his first score that gave the Eagles an 8-0 lead after the opening stanza. His first opportunity to score in the second quarter was a result of a blocked punt deep in Wilson’s red zone by Chris Diem, and Wahler wasted little time making that special teams gem by his teammate hurt. The Eagles got the ball back relatively quickly after taking the 14-0 lead and scored again in short order to push their advantage to 22-0.

Even after Wilson broke up the shutout bid later in the frame, Wahler and the Eagles weren’t done. Wahler found an opening in Wilson’s defense and burst through it en route to the game’s longest individual offensive play of the day.

“We did a pretty good job in terms of the turnover battle, with Chris in particular doing a fantastic job of taking the ball right off the punter’s foot on his block to set us up for our second touchdown,” Graham said. “But, we were also able to more consistently finish off long drives, which was a credit to what everyone was doing on the offensive side of the ball. Plus, we were a lot more physical than we were in the first game, too.

“And the defense really came to play as well,” Graham continued. “We did a fantastic job of stopping their run game — they really didn’t [do] that many positive plays on the ground — and, with the pressure we were able to get on their quarterback, we were able to help ourselves out offensively with field position as well.”

Michael Clark scored Cleveland Hill’s two touchdowns in the second half, first hauling in a 34-yard touchdown strike from Brett Kochanski in the third quarter before breaking off a 25-yard run in the fourth quarter. The Eagles also picked up a couple of points on a safety in the third quarter when the ball was snapped out of the end zone on a punt attempt.

Wahler finished up the day with 182 yards on 13 carries to pace Cleveland Hill offensively. Clark finished with 30 yards on two carries, while Ryan Majerowski added 29 yards on eight carries. Kochanski completed 4-of-9 passes for 46 yards, with Clark’s scoring play accounting for most of the yardage. David Grant (12 yards) was the only player to have multiple receptions on the day.

Defensively, D’Mario Grant (6 solo) and Majerowski (4 solo) each finished with seven total tackles. David Grant chipped in with four solo tackles and a fumble recovery, while Kahlil Jackson added three total tackles and a forced fumble. Kochanski had an interception to go along with his two solo tackles, while Clark deflected three passes on top of his two total tackles.

Cleveland Hill (1-1, 1-0 C North) returns to non-league action Saturday when it hosts Section V’s U-Prep. Graham knows his team will be in for a challenge this weekend, but it’s a challenge he welcomes as a good way to get ready for the remainder of the C North schedule.

“We’ve still got things we’ve got to work on and improve upon, and with two non-league games against good opponents coming up, one of the main things we’ve got to do a better job at is ball security,” Graham said. “We need to become more efficient and effective in sustaining drives offensively and stopping drives on defense.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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