CCHS dominates JFK

Justin Hartzell

WARREN — There may be a statistic that explains the percentages, but Steubenville Catholic Central coach Steve Daley wasn’t worried about specifics.

His Crusaders were tied with John F. Kennedy at halftime, and the momentum seemed to swaying toward JFK, which rallied from a two-touchdown deficit and was receiving the second-half kickoff. Central, which hadn’t beat the Eagles in Warren since 1973, was determined to change its fortunes.

“Whoever scores first in the second half of a tied game usually wins the game,” Daley said. “So, it was key for us to get a stop and put it in the end zone as quick as possible. We were able to do that.”

The Crusaders did that, and then some.

They scored the only touchdowns of the second half — five total — and ended up rolling past the Eagles, 48-14.

Daley said his players were well aware of the 45-year losing streak in Warren, and it was time for a change.

“Our kids definitely played inspired in the second half,” he said. “It just feels good. I’m proud of them.”

They caught JFK during a rough patch. The Eagles (1-4) lost three straight games by at least 42 points coming into Saturday, playing some of the best teams in LaBrae, Girard and Crestview. They ran into another good one Saturday night at Mollenkopf Stadium.

Central quarterback Justin Hartzell ran for 171 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. Also a track and field star for the Crusaders (he finished fourth in the state in the 100-meter dash as a sophomore), Hartzell had TD runs of 51 and 60. The senior’s 60-yard scamper came early in the second half.

Central (4-1) forced a three-and-out on JFK’s first drive, thanks in part to a bad snap on first down. After a punt, it took just two plays for Hartzell to break loose up the middle for a touchdown.

“Their quarterback is really good,” Eagles coach Jeff Bayuk said. “With a good team, they capitalize on every mistake you make, so it just started to snowball in the second half.”

An intensely fast-paced Central offense started quickly and took a 14-0 lead on a 6-yard pass from Hartzell to Anthony Fallon and then Hartzell’s 51-yard run. JFK answered with two scores from Isaac Hadley. The bruising senior running back ran for 159 yards and TD runs of 44 and 4 yards.

The Eagles’ defense was stifling in the second quarter, and JFK looked poised to take control of the game, but Bayuk said a young team like the Eagles is still learning how to play consistently.

“It’s part of the progression,” Bayuk said. “If I were a second- or third-year coach, I’d probably be thinking about trying another profession, but I’ve seen this before at all the places I’ve been. It’s a progression. Tonight, we played a half against a good team. We played a good half. After that, the next step is to try and play a whole game that way. We got all excited, and then you make mistakes.”

The Eagles managed just two first downs in the second half and couldn’t slow a Central offense that had several other weapons besides Hartzell.

The Crusaders accumulated 514 yards of offense, 16 first downs and used a variety of players both in the run and pass game. Their 21-point third quarter gave them a 35-14 lead, and they removed all doubt when Jeffrey Dawson scored on a 4-yard run midway through the fourth quarter.

“We try to make it to where you can’t key on just one guy,” Daley said. “We know they’re going to be trying to key on Hartzell and stop him, but when you’ve got guys stepping up and making plays like that, it takes a lot of pressure off of him.”

While it was another lopsided loss for JFK, the Eagles took steps in the right direction, Bayuk said.

Both Hadley and fellow senior running back Jordan Edmondson (18 carries, 60 yards) played an entire game together for the first time this season. Injuries have been a problem for the Eagles, with Edmondson missing the last three games, and the setbacks have led to several underclassmen starting.

While the inexperience can result in mistakes, the growth is apparent as well.

“I feel like we take a couple steps forward, and then we take a step back,” Bayuk said. “Then we take a couple forward, and we take a step back. That’s all part of being young and inexperienced. They’ve got to figure it out (on the field).”

Central plays its final road game of the regular season on Friday, traveling to Barnesville.

CCHS 48, Warren JFK 14

CCHS 14 0 21 13 — 48

JFK 7 7 0 0 — 14

CCHS: Anthony Fallon 6 pass from Justin Hartzell (Jarred Roberts kick), 9:34

JFK: Isaac Hadley 44 run (Armand Nannicola kick), :34

CCHS: Hartzell 51 run (Roberts kick), :00

JFK: Hadley 4 run (Nannicola kick), 4:52

CCHS: Hartzell 60 run (Roberts kick), 9:10

CCHS: Fallon 1 run (Roberts kick), 6:19

CCHS: Jeffrey Dawson 41 run (Roberts kick), 2:15

CCHS: Dawson 4 run (Kick failed), 4:54

CCHS: Jayden Keeder 1 run (Roberts kick), 1:16

RUSHING: Catholic Central 52-386 (Justin Hartzell 15-171, Noah Fayak 7-69, Jeffrey Dawson 6-67, Anthony Fallon 7-40); Kennedy 37-243 (Isaac Hadley 12-159, Jordan Edmondson 18-60, Christian Marantis 6-24).

PASSING: Catholic Central 9-12-128-1-1 (all by Hartzell); Kennedy 5-13-27-0-1 (all by Marantis).

RECEIVING: Catholic Central (Dom Argentine 2-55, Anthony LeFever 2-24, Fallon 2-14, Anthony Simmons Jr. 1-10, Jayden Keeder 1-13); Kennedy (Hadley 2-15, Cameron Hollobaugh 1-13).