SULLIVAN TWP. — Before Black River coach Al Young could address his team Friday after a 62-13 Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division win over Brookside, hard-hitting senior linebacker Austin Jones interrupted to hand him the game ball.
For a man who bleeds Pirates black and gold and is in his 22nd year as the team’s coach, Young couldn’t help but smile, because 150 career wins represent a milestone few reach.
Now the Pirates have another goal in mind: to put themselves in position to win a share of the Stars Division title next week at undefeated Firelands.
“We’ve had many, many, many good players here over the years and great teams,” said Young, who is three wins away from reclaiming his Medina County record for career victories from retired Brunswick coach Rich Nowak. “That’s just a tribute to them and all of the kids who were here before.
“I’m just excited to be a part of Black River. That’s all there is to it. This place is my home, always will be my home, and it’s a great place to be.”
It was also a tribute from his current players, as Black River (7-1, 4-1) rebounded brilliantly from its heartbreaking 48-21 loss at Wellington last week.
The Pirates roared to a 21-7 lead after running 25 plays to Brookside’s four and outgaining the Cardinals 233-15 in the first quarter. Black River extended the advantage to 41-7 midway through the third on four consecutive drives that started inside the Brookside 31-yard line.
Sophomore halfback Andrew Vaughn (254 all-purpose yards, three TDs) and junior fullback Austin Phillips (16 carries, 120 yards, two TDs) each went over the 100-yard barrier and combined for five touchdowns. Jake Sexton, Alex Bacisin, Seth Terry and Aaron Schmitz also found the end zone as Black River outgained the Cardinals
(4-3, 2-3) 505-140 for the game.
The defense was just as impressive. Phillips, Jones, Terry Sas and Barrett Schmitz recovered fumbles inside Cardinals territory, and the Pirates went the first 21:52 without yielding a first down.
“It was very important — we had to set the stage early,” said Sas, who added two tackles for loss after being named homecoming king before kickoff. “It showed we can recover from a loss like that (to Wellington). We have to make strides to improve each week.”
Brookside kept the game relatively interesting early as speedy return man Chris Danchisen took a kickoff 81 yards to the house to tie the game at 7.
The score remained that way until quarterback Dakota Kuntz hit Vaughn on a 61-yard swing pass to set up a Vaughn TD run. The Cardinals lost a fumble on their own 29 on the ensuing kickoff, and Phillips later capitalized with a 7-yard score.
“It feels great,” said defensive end John Guilford, who forced a fumble, had a tackle for loss and stuffed Brandon Bellman on the fake punt. “For what happened last week, it’s a really good bounce back by pretty much shutting down their whole offense.”