KRISTIN BAUER / CHRONICLE Elyria Catholic High School's offensive lineman Griffin Davies (51) puts in a touch down on Friday night, August 31 as Villa St. Angela-St. Joseph High School line backer Kiras Kijauskas (51) attempts to put down the tackle.
ELYRIA — The first quarter has been kind to first-year Elyria Catholic coach Brian Fox.
For the second straight week the Panthers scored four first-quarter touchdowns, starting the game with a big play and cruising to a blowout win. This week Villa Angela-St. Joseph was the victim as Elyria Catholic opened the home portion of is schedule with a 48-7 win at Knights of Columbus Field.
Last week against Brookside, senior Jack Griffin returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. Against the Vikings, senior Leighton Banjoff scored on a 55-yard off-tackle burst on the Panthers’ first play from scrimmage.
“It really was a deep breath,” Elyria Catholic quarterback Cameron Engrish said. “Even in our scrimmage we scored on the first play and that has helped us a lot. It gets them down on the other side and is a huge deal for us. The blocking was great. I don’t even think L.B. got touched.”
The Panthers (2-0) kept adding on. Senior David Griffin scored on a 16-yard touchdown pass with 7:11 remaining in the first before his younger brother, Jack, caught a 14-yard touchdown at the 5:16 mark for a 21-0 lead.
Malik Gaddy closed the first-quarter scoring with a 5-yard touchdown run.
The Panthers scored three touchdowns in the second quarter — a 13-yard catch from David Griffin, a 30-yard Banjoff run and a 2-yard plunge by Griffin Davies — and the rout was on.
Vikings coach Bill Sowers, who saw his team fall to 0-2, said his squad was not ready to play.
“Not to take anything away from them, but it was a different circumstance today for us,” he said. “We didn’t have school this morning and we talked about how they had to conduct themselves prior to showing up today on our campus.
“I’m kind of questioning how we did that because we came out completely flat and not ready to play. Ultimately that’s on me as a head football coach. I’ve got to do a better job of getting them ready.”
The game had a special meaning for David Griffin, who caught seven passes for 79 yards and two touchdowns.
“This meant a lot,” he said. “Last year I broke my ankle against them and I didn’t get to finish up the season. I was happy to be out there. I love hitting because it gives us momentum and turns up our team.”
That hitting made the biggest impression on Fox.
“He’s got the scary quietness to him,” Fox said of Griffin. “That kid wants to hit, and that’s who we rely on. It’s the mental switch in your head that makes you go out and be a physical player. He’s always had that. He’s the type of kid you have to tell, on certain days of practice, to calm down.
“But he has that physical part of his game that I love. He was trying to truck people when he had the ball. Him and his brother are special athletes.”
Banjoff led Elyria Catholic in rushing, eclipsing the 100-yard plateau for the second straight week. He carried the ball just four times for 117 yards and two touchdowns. Engrish threw for over 300 yards for the second straight week, completing 21 of 29 passes for 314 yards and three touchdowns.
The Panthers rushed for 215 yards as a team and rolled up 529 yards of offense.
“They’re an extremely talented team,” Sowers said. “I’ve gotten to know Coach Fox over the last year so I know how well-coached they are. The sky is the limit for these guys and I wish them the best.
“They keep coming at you. It’s one back after the next coming downhill at you. They’re going to be a challenge in Division V, Region 17.”
Regional championships are great, but Fox and the Panthers have their minds on a bigger prize.
“We are preparing every single practice as if we’re going to be state champions,” he said. “The eyes are still on that 15th week. That’s our mindset and how we prepare each week.”
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Elyria Catholic 48, VASJ 7
VASJ 0 0 7 0 — 7
Elyria Catholic 27 21 0 0 — 48
EC -- Leighton Banjoff, 55 run (Asa Kempton kick)
EC -- David Griffin, 16 pass from Cameron Engrish (Kempton kick)
EC -- Jack Griffin, 14 pass from Engrish (Kempton kick)
EC -- Malik Gaddy, 5 run (run failed)
EC -- D. Griffin, 13 pass from Engrish (Kempton kick)
EC -- Banjoff, 30 run (Kempton kick)
EC -- Griffin Davies, 2 run (Kempton kick)
VA -- Thomas Yarbrough, 65 pass from Andrew Fabo (Matt McGinn kick)
First downs 7 21
— by rushing 3 7
— by passing 4 14
— by penalty 0 0
Yards rushing 64 215
Yards passing 124 314
Total offense 188 529
Passes att./comp. 23/9 29/22
Intercepted by 0 1
Fumbles/lost 1/1 2/2
Penalties/yards 4/30 8/50
RUSHING — (VA) Devland Culliver 12-28, Cameron Williams 3-19, Lavelle Smith Jr. 7-17, Jordan Dean 1-(-1). (EC) Leighton Banjoff 4-117, Malik Gaddy 5-68, Chris Jackson Jr. 6-48, Griffin Davies 1-2, Cameron Engrish 2-(-30).
PASSING — (VA) Andrew Fabo 9-23-124-0-1. (EC) Cameron Engrish 22-29-314-3-1.
RECEIVING — (VA) Thomas Yarbrough 2-74, Cameron Williams 3-13, Andrew Oriani 1-16, Lavelle Smith 1-5, Jordan Dean 1-4. (EC) David Griffin 7-79, Jaret Frantz 5-70, Jace Drwal 2-73, Gavan Hrobat 2-19, Jack Griffin 2-21, Connor Trockley 1-28, Leighton Banjoff 1-33, Malik Gaddy 1-7, Chris Jackson Jr. 1-3.