By Dan Gilles
COLLINS – Black River came to Collins Western Reserve Friday night. It saw what the RoughRiders had to offer. And, the Pirate conquered them in all facets of the game.
Black River delivered a 50-7 non-conference whitewashing of the RoughRiders at Western Reserve’s Bachelder Field, rolling up 412 yards rushing and 481 yards of total offense.
The Pirates (1-0) were paced by a three-headed monster in the backfield, led by junior fullback Jacob Campbell’s 151 yards on 17 carries with two touchdowns. Senior Cory Bartolic added 93 on eight carries, while junior Travis Sexton finished with 96 on nine carries with a touchdown.
All told, the Pirates accounted for six of their seven touchdowns on the ground. Four different players scored, including two from Mike Hazlett, the senior quarterback.
“Outstanding,” Black River coach Al Young said. “What a great way to start. We got off to that fast start, which was huge. I thought we were pretty flawless up front. Our offensive line did a wonderful job. Our backs did a great job hitting the holes. Things seemed to mesh really good and the quickness was there, so I’m happy with a good start to the season.
“Jake’s a great fullback. He runs hard and he weaves in and out does a great job. And Travis, whenever he hits a hole, he can go. He’s got some wheels. Cory Bartolic did a nice job, Riley Gibbs did a nice job running – we’ve got a whole stable full of backs that we’re pretty happy with.”
Black River didn’t waste any time making a statement.
The Pirate defense forced a three-and-out by sending Western Reserve backward, then the offense ground out an opening 12-play, 72-yard drive, which culminated with a Hazlett 3-yard touchdown. A 2-yard run by Campbell on fourth-and-1 from the Western 10, in which he was hit in the backfield by Luke Buck and shook him off to lunge forward, kept the opening drive alive..
A 33-yard run by Bartolic on the first play of the ensuing possession set up Black River’s next touchdown, a 12-yard run from Campbell with 3:47 left in the first quarter. After one, the Pirates led 14-0.
“Perfect way to start the season for us,” Campbell said. “This is a real big confidence booster. Everything we wanted to, we did. Now, we’ve got to keep rolling.
“My main goal was to prove to everyone what we can do. I think we accomplished that. We’re coming.”
While the offense rolled through the RoughRiders defense, the Pirate defense shut the door on Western’s offense. Western’s standout tailback, senior Josh Fries, was held to just 32 yards on 10 carries before he suffered a knee injury just before halftime, and they only rushed for 86 yards as a team – most of which against the backups late in the game.
“Our defense was outstanding from start-to-finish,” Young said. “They had trouble running the ball and we were very aggressive to the point of attack and pressured them a lot. I thought we made it very difficult for them to get back and get set to try to throw.
“Coming in, we thought we had a significant edge in depth. We had a lot of guys playing one way, and on a hot night, that’s pretty critical. Our kids were able to take advantage of it, especially our linemen. I’m extremely proud with the way they played on both sides.”
Sexton added a 34-yard touchdown run, Hazlett had a 21-yarder on a scramble after not finding anyone open, and the coup-de-grace was a 51-yard touchdown pass from Hazlett to a wide-open Zack Beard on their first pass attempt of the season.
“Mike’s been our quarterback for three years,” Young said. “His arm is a weapon. He can run and he can throw. He does a great job handing the football and we’re lucky to have him.”
Black River travels Northwestern next Friday, while Western Reserve hosts Castalia Margaretta.
“We pretty much had it handed to us,” Western Reserve coach Mike Stoll said. “They beat us up physically. We had three weeks to prepare for what they do – they run five basic plays. We thought we had a good gameplan coming in. They just took it to us – they blocked us, they tackled us and we didn’t tackle them or block them real well. We’re gonna get better, though.”
Black River 50, Western Reserve 7
Black River 14 22 7 7 — 50
Western Reserve 0 7 0 0 — 7
BR – Mike Hazlett 3 run (kick failed)
BR – Jacob Campbell 12 run (Riley Gibbs run)
WR – Colton Puder 62 pass from Matt Perkins (Stephen Hood kick)
BR – Travis Sexton 34 run (Cory Bartolic kick)
BR – Hazlett 21 run (Sexton run)
BR – Zack Beard 51 pass from Hazlett (Brandon Wine kick)
BR – Campbell 1 run (Wine kick)
BR – Justin Zacharyasz 11 run (Wine kick)
First downs 21 8
— by rushing 19 4
— by passing 2 3
— by penalty
Yards rushing 412 48
Yards passing 69 134
Total offense 481 220
Passes att./comp. 3/2 13/7
Intercepted by 0 1
Penalties/yards 9/70 2/15
RUSHING — (BR) Jacob Campbell 17-151, Travis Sexton 9-96, Cory Bartolic 8-93, Mike Hazlett 6-30, Riley Gibbs 5-22, Justin Zacharyasz 1-11, Alex Formelker 1-1. (WR) Stephen Hood 9-38, Josh Fries 10-32, Colton Puder 10-26, Matt Perkins 3-(-10).
PASSING — (BR) Hazlett 2-3-69-1-1. (WR) Perkins 7-13-134-1-0.
RECEIVING — (BR) Zack Beard 1-51, Bartolic 1-18. (WR) Puder 3-100, Michael Tinney 2-5, Hood 1-12, Isaiah Antill 1-1
Dan Gilles is entering his 23rd year as a sportswriter in Northeast Ohio, writing for various newspapers and media outlets during his career. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DanGilles1973