Fighting Irish improve to 2-0 behind Campbell, Bushner
By David Lee Morgan Jr.
(CUYAHOGA FALLS) -- After two games of the high school football season, this is obvious: The defending Division III state champions St. Vincent-St. Mary has one of the best collection of skill players in the area- and quite possibly in the state.
Not to mention a solid defense.
Those phases of the game were all on display for St. V-M Friday night at Walsh Jesuit’s Conway Memorial Stadium as the Irish rolled to a 35-20 win against the Warriors.
The win for St. V-M (2-0) came down to this:
* Senior running back and Ohio State recruit Parris Campbell scoring three touchdowns, including a 99-yard kickoff return. ``Our skill (players) came through,‘’ Irish coach Dan Boarman said. ``Parris bailed us out with that kickoff return because it made it our game again.’’ Boarman was referring to the fact that Walsh trailed 28-20 with 8:28 left in the fourth quarter, after a 27-yard field goal by Mike Knoll, before Campbell’s amazing return.
* Sophomore defensive back Tyrece Speaight patrolling the secondary like a veteran, even though he’s a sophomore. ``He’s an incredible guy, and he’s a young guy,’’ Campbell said about Speaight. ``He’s only going to get better.’’
* Senior quarterback Aaron Bushner completing 10-of-18 for 125 yards and rushing for a team-leading 68 yards on nine carries. Bushner injured his knee in this very game a year ago (ACL) and was lost for the season. He said returning to take care of unfinished business this year, and more specifically in this game, was the only thing on his mind. ``I just came out here and tried to do what I was supposed to do last year,’’ he said.
* The Irish defense only allowed one offensive touchdown- a 2-yard run by Brian DiCillo in the second half. ``I thought the defense played excellent,’’ Boarman said. ``We stopped (Walsh) on fourth down and I thought that was a critical point in the game.’’
Boarman was referring to how his defense held Walsh on when the Warriors were at their own 30 with 1:25 left in the third quarter. Two plays later, Campbell score on a 1-yard run for a 28-17 Irish lead.
One of the things that long-time Walsh coach Gerry Rardin knows when it comes to battling rival St. V-M is that you can’t make mistakes. The Warriors (0-2) turned the ball over four times.
``You can’t beat any decent team with that many turnovers and that many screw
ups on special teams,‘’ Rardin said. ``I mean we made a couple nice special teams ourselves, but we gave up a special teams touchdown last week and this week and that’s got to stop. We’re giving up too many big plays at the wrong time’’
Rardin mentioned the fact that in last week’s 34-30 loss at Youngstown Ursuline, the Warrior’s have up three touchdowns on fourth-and-long situations.
Walsh’s offense couldn’t put any substantial drives together in the first half and the Warriors’ biggest highlight came on a spectacular 95-yard kickoff return by 5-foot-6, 160-pound running back Anthony Rozum. It was a touchdown Walsh desperately needed because St. V-M was looking to take command after a 16-yard touchdown run by Campbell, which gave the Irish a 14-3 lead with 8:38 left in the first half.
That’s when Rozum ``stepped up.’’ He took the kickoff, used his impressive speed and quickness to find his way to the right sideline. Rozum got several key blocks that sprung him to the outside and he outraced the entire St. V-M kicking team for the score, cutting the Irish lead to 14-10, just 15 seconds after Campbell’s score.
St. V-M managed to take a 21-10 lead on a 1-yard run by Newman Williams with 1:46 left before halftime. The Irish out-gained Walsh 186-53 in the first two quarters.
Yet, Walsh wasn‘t about to lay down. DiCillo’s touchdown with 11 minutes left in the third quarter cut St. V-M’s lead to 21-17.
``The kids really came out in the second half ready to go,’’ Rardin said. ``They really took advantage of the field position, but we gave up too many big plays at the wrong time.’’
From there, however, St. V-M’s skill and defense finished things out.