It is said that all good things must come to an end, and for the Stow Bulldogs it was a thirteen game winning streak, a push for a state title, and the careers of many seniors, that finally reached that point.
On Nov. 28, the undefeated Stow Bulldogs took on the football powerhouse, top seeded, Lakewood St. Edward Eagles, in the OHSAA Division I final four.
Stow’s perfect record was on the line, and both teams found themselves in a win-or-go-home situation. For the Eagles, they were reaching for another opportunity at a state championship, as they earned it last season as well.
Stow found themselves in a rut early on as the initial kickoff was dropped on the 3-yard line putting Stow in a dangerous situation right out the gate. From there not much was to be done from the offense of the Bulldogs as they were forced to punt nearly every possesion.
The Eagles were the first to score with a 43-yard field goal at the 7:49 mark, followed by a 42-yard touchdown pass to end the first quarter with the lead at 10-0.
The second quarter really opened things up for the Eagles. Numerous turnovers by the Bulldogs were capitalized on by St. Eds, resulting in 38-0 deficit going into halftime.
Junior quarterback Kyle Vantrese was able to find senior wide receiver Monte Board for a 10-yard touchdown pass to give Stow their first, and only points of the night. The Eagles tacked one more touchdown to end the night with a 45-7 victory over Stow.
With more than likely the greatest season of football to come through Stow in history, the Bulldogs surely have nothing to be ashamed of. For some it is the end– a cumulation of all the years spent dedicating their lives to a sport they knew they eventually could no longer play — but for the returning players, this season has set the bar to a new level, one that a legacy of winning seasons is destined to be built upon.
The soaring streak from the tail of the Solon Comets could not counter the dominant streak of the undefeated Bulldogs.
It was a frigid night in Infocision Stadium, where the second round of the OHSAA Division I playoffs took place between the local Stow Bulldogs and the Solon Comets. The second seeded Bulldogs looked to extend their undefeated record to 12-0, but when it comes to the playoffs, it is win or go home, and Solon understood the slate was clean, and both teams were set on equal playing fields.
The first half was something not seen yet by the Bulldogs as they were scored on first by Solon after a turnover on Stow’s first possession of the game. Solon attempted a two-point conversion, but fell short, giving them a 6-0 with 4:36 to go in the first.
With time running down in the second quarter, sophomore Isaiah Gray provided the Bulldogs with a timely interception, that senior kicker Garrett Rigby was able to convert into three points to end the half with a score of 6-3 in favor of Solon.
In the third quarter, senior Monte Board gave the Bulldogs another interception, this time resulting in a 29-yard touchdown run by senior running back Jayson Gobble with 8:24 to go in the third quarter. The Comets responded with a field goal with 2:36 to go, after an interception thrown by the Bulldogs, resulting in a 10-9 score in favor of Stow.
The ensuing kickoff provided a second chance opportunity for a name not spoken much of this season, but destined to be soon. Sophomore Terrian Wray took the ball 97-yards to the house to extend the Bulldogs lead to 17-9. Even crazier is the fact that this was Wray’s second house call of the night, as he also took the opening kickoff to the end zone, but was called back for a penalty by Stow. The third quarter ended with a score of 17-9, Stow owning the lead.
Solon scored 6 minutes into the fourth quarter, but failed yet again to tag on the two-point conversion, leaving them trailing the Bulldogs 17-15.
Stow’s defense came up big, as they forced the Comets to turn the ball over on downs with 3:20 left to go. From there Stow trekked down the field, eating up the clock, and eventually leading to Gobble punching in a short run to seal the victory for the Stow Bulldogs over the Solon Comets with a final score of 24-15.
The Bulldogs (12-0) are moving on to the third round of the playoffs to take on Lewis Center Olentangy, Sat., Nov. 21 at Mansfield Arlin Field starting at 7 o’clock. Students have the opportunity to take student busing to the game, as well as get their ticket for free, as Stow Booster Club with be covering the costs.
The stings from a buzzing swarm of belligerent Bees are feeble in comparison to the rugged toughness possessed by a Bulldog.
On the night of Oct. 23, Stow rolled into the hive of the Brecksville Bees, looking to keep their undefeated record intact. Prior to the game, Brecksville held a 7-1 record, but continuing to play with the absence of two key starters—one of which is their quarterback—certainly would hinder their offensive presence.
On the first play of the game junior quarterback Kyle Vantrease’s pass was deflected, falling into the hands of a Brecksville defender. Though finding themselves in prime scoring position, the Bees were unable to convert and turned it over on downs. From there, sloppy play and punting were the subjects of the opening minutes.
Stow would be the first to focus in, shed the sloppiness, and begin to control the game.
“We slowed it down and started playing like we usually do,” junior wide receiver Joe Andrassy said.
With twenty-six seconds left in the first quarter, Andrassy was the one to take action, going 56-yards into the end zone after a short pass from Vantrease and putting Stow on the board first to close the quarter.
Brecksville had some energy of their own to start the second quarter, opening the first seconds with an 86-yard touchdown run to tie the game 7-7. Stow fired back four minutes later with another Andrassy touchdown assisted by the arm of Vantrease. With 3:56 left to go in the half, senior running back Jayson Gobble decided to jump in on the action with a 24-yard touchdown run of his own to extend the lead to 21-7.
Brecksville’s defense knew the threat the Bulldogs have in the backfield and if they wanted a shot at winning this one they would need to lock down Gobble. With that, they did a decent job containing Stow’s run game, but Stow did not flinch, in turn, resorting to the aerial attack, and with great success. Vantrease stepped up to the Bee’s defense and completed the night with 279 passing yards and a rushing touchdown of his own. Andrassy lit up the field, ending the night with 190 receiving yards and two touchdowns, while sneaking in the special “Tode Package” for a moment.
“We weren’t expecting the run game to be so sloppy, but when they weren’t covering the bubble screen, we just exploited it and got the pass game going,” Andrassy said.
After a 35-yard field goal from junior kicker Austin Burnham, Stow was on top 24-7 going into halftime.
As any team with the opportunity to squash an undefeated record, Brecksville showed they were not to be taken lightly. A 37-yard touchdown pass cut the Bee’s deficit to 24-14 with 7:50 left in the third. Senior kicker Garrett Rigby booted in a 32-yard field goal shortly after, to bump the score to 27-14 going into the fourth quarter.
The Bee’s took stride in the last quarter after a 76-yard touchdown connection to trim the deficit to 27-21 with 7:49 left to go. Both teams relied on the passing game to support their offenses. Brecksville was testing Stow’s defensive backs with long shots down the field, many of which to the benefit of the Bee’s. Now Stow found them in a position where a Brecksville touchdown, provided with an extra point, gave them the lead. This was quickly dismissed as Rigby booted another field goal—this time from 38-yards out—with 6:15 left to go in the game and a 30-21 lead.
With 4:55 to go, Brecksville shot deep again, finding a receiver for a 68-yard play, that subsequently resulted in a 1-yard touchdown punch to bring the Bee’s within two points. With the score at 30-28 in favor of Stow, the Bulldogs found themselves with a crucial possession. Vantrease showed his confidence with the ball, and reliability to come up big when needed, after he took a fake handoff 45-yards to the end zone to seal the victory for the Bulldogs with a score of 37-28.
“We knew we needed to win this game to win the Suburban League, so we just wanted to go out and make some noise,” Andrassy said.
Noise was definitely made by the Bulldogs, as it has been all year, and there is more to come, as they extend their record to 9-0, and bump Brecksville’s to 7-2. Stow will take on North Royalton (3-6) to wrap up the regular season at home on Oct. 30. With sights on double-digits in the wins column, an undefeated year is a confidence boost Stow will likely need to obtain, and maintain, entering the playoffs.
Andrassy said, “We want nothing more than to be the first 10-0 team at Stow so we’re going to go out and win this next game for sure.”