NORTH RIDGEVILLE — If Friday night is any indication of how North Ridgeville plans on rebounding from a 1-9 season, it should be a great year for the Rangers.
They came out running against Westlake, took a huge lead and held on for a commanding 34-21 victory.
The Rangers had one of the worst seasons in school history in 2012, but came out determined to put last year in the past.
They sprinted to a 28-0 lead as the offensive line controlled the Demons — who won nine games and made the playoffs a year ago — and allowed sophomore tailback Demario McCall to score four times on runs of 1, 22, 16 and 1.
North Ridgeville kept the Demons in check until the second quarter. It was then that two special teams mistakes allowed Westlake to get on the scoreboard.
The first was by the up blocker on a punt from deep in North Ridgeville territory. He stepped back instead of forward and the punt hit him and rebounded into the end zone, where punter Jason Lucas kicked it out of bounds for a safety.
The second came on the ensuing free kick when Westlake’s Nicholas Moracz fielded the ball and broke through tacklers to return the ball 65 yards to the 9. Three plays later Westlake scored as quarterback Kent Axcell found Brian Wallenhorst after dodging several defenders and a big missed tackle.
“I felt pretty comfortable with a 28-0 lead,” North Ridgeville coach Jeff Riesen said. “But I knew it wasn’t over because this is high school football. Unfortunately we made those two mistakes.”
Westlake coach Mark Campo and his staff were disappointed in the outcome.
“When you go through the winter and spring and work hard like the kids did and then come out and play like we did in the first half, yes, it’s disappointing,” Campo said. “We won the second half, but we stunk in the first half.”
Westlake made adjustments at halftime and shut down McCall for most of the second half. He did drive the proverbial nail in the coffin with a 23-yard run on third-and-9 to allow the Rangers to run out the clock. Westlake was out of timeouts.
North Ridgeville will try to improve to 2-0 next week, as it travels to Byers Field to take on Parma. Westlake will face another neighboring opponent in Bay.
UNDERDOGS: Riesen and quarterback Jason Lucas gave credit to The Chronicle-Telegram sportswriters for inspiring them. Westlake was picked 11-0 to beat the Rangers.
“When we saw the pick Thursday I told them, ‘Let’s go out and shock the county,’” Riesen said. “I told them I didn’t want to give any sad speeches after the game.”
Contact Ron Nenadal at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.