The South Collegiate senior football team travelled to Chardon, Ohio on Friday September 9th to take on the Chardon Ohio High School Hilltoppers in pre-season “Friday Night Lights” action. Chardon is expected to complete for the Ohio State Championship with what many locals are calling their best team since the mid 1990’s.
The team was greeted by a very welcoming host school and during warm up, the crowd began to arrive and immediately the South team received cheers from the home town crowd. The 7:00pm game included pre-game ceremonies honouring members of the Military and the Chardon Band played a perfect version of the Canadian National Anthem.
The South team took possession first and after 2 tough runs from senior running back Nick Morello the Lions were faced with a 4th and 1 and punted. The Chardon offense was high powered and were able to jump out to an early 14-0 lead after the 1st quarter.
The second half saw a motivated South team start to string drives together and the half time adjustments allowed their defensive force unit to gain traction. After a strong stop by the Lions D, the South O put together a typical South drive built off a mix of power runs and play action including a 16 yard 2nd down completion from Quarterback Ethan Martin to Noah Johns. Early in the 4th quarter, Martin was able to break contain after a play fake to Jake Beadle and ran 24 yards for a South Touchdown. Robert Panabaker converted the PAT. Safety David Nethersole lead the South D on this Friday Night along with great play from Linebacker Tyler Thompson and Defensive Tackle Spencer Nichols.
After the game, the teams and fans mingled on the field while the Chardon Band played for the crowd. Many fans were surprised that the game was South’s first action of the season and were impressed with the way Lions players were able to improve as the game went on. Dozens of fans took the opportunity to thank various South players and Coaches for making the trip.
On Saturday, the South team attended the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The players were able to spend a few hours of free time at this amazing museum. Saturday evening saw the South team attend Kent State University for an NCAA game between the Golden Flashes and North Carolina A&T. Kent State is the alma matter of South Head Coach Mike Stenning and the chance to join Coach Stenning for his first return to his college home in some time was special for many of the Lions. During an early rain delay, the South team had the opportunity to go inside the Kent State indoor practice field and throw the ball around.
Overall, the trip was a great success for the South team. Many players were able to experience the “Friday Night Lights” of small town US High School Football, attend the NFL Hall of Fame and take in an NCAA Football game. The team gained valuable on field experience which should only benefit them during the regular season.
Special thanks to Coach Stenning and all of the South and TVDSB Staff and Administrators who planned, assisted and allowed this great experience to take place as well as the Chardon, Ohio community for being great hosts.