By David Lee Morgan Jr.
Special to WTAM.com
(HUDSON) -- The way Hudson junior quarterback Mitch Guadagni has taken care of business this season has been remarkable.
But the Explorer’s success goes beyond Guadagni, as Solon discovered Friday night at Hudson Memorial Stadium.
Hudson headed into the highly-anticipated Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division game against the Comets with an impressive statistic: The Explorers hadn’t given up more than 14 points in a game through six contests.
That streak is still intact as Hudson dominated Solon 42-14. The Explorers remain undefeated (7-0, 4-0), while the Comets (4-3, 3-1) had their three-game win streak snapped.
Guadagni, meanwhile, put on yet another impressive performance. He completed 10-of-17 passes for 234 yards and accounted for five touchdowns- four passing and one rushing. And speaking of rushing, Guadagni pounded out a team-high 106 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown run, which put Hudson ahead 35-7 with 3:23 left in the second quarter.
``It’s a maturity process,‘’ Hudson coach Ron Wright said. ``I think he has matured as the year has gone on and I think we are going to see more from him as he processes what’s going on. He feels really good inside his skin right now and that‘s important. If he’s relaxed and just plays like he’s capable of playing, I think he’s going to get better.‘’
The beneficiaries of Guadagni’s state of relaxation were receivers Colton Whited, a junior, and senior Jared Ruffing. Whited caught five passes for 144 yards and three touchdowns (12, 39 and 68 yards, respectively.)
Ruffing caught three passes for 91 yards, which included a 78-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter.
``It’s the coaches,‘’ Whited said, explaining why the Hudson offense is so wide open and balanced. ``They spend so much time putting together the game plans then we just try to come out and execute it.‘’
As for the Hudson defense, it must’ve been a ``Mentality of Excellence.‘’
And if that’s not the motto for Hudson’s defense this year, it should be.
Let’s meet the faceless defense. It‘s linemen Grant Effers, Joe Martin, Michael Delsanter, Mike Innamorato, linebackers Jimmy Dorr, Ben Hart, Whited and defensive backs Ruffing, John Zuccaro, Matt Rightnour and Jake Brooks.
``We stress getting 11 guys on the ball,‘’ Hudson defensive coordinator Jeff Gough said. ``We basically try to play 11 on 1. The philosophy is keep the ball in front and make the offense earn everything.‘’
Solon was averaging 35.4 points a game and senior running back Antwain Hamilton entered the contest with 719 total yards (120 yards a game average) and scored 13 touchdowns. Against Hudson, Hamilton was held to just 59 yards on 15 carries.
Hudson’s defense helped set up the Explorers’ first score when Zuccaro intercepted a pass that went off the hands of a Solon receiver. Zuccaro returned the interception five yards to the Comets’ 20 and two plays later, the Explorers took a 7-0 lead on a 12-yard touchdown off a screen pass from Guadagni to Whited with 7:35 left in the first quarter.
But it only took Solon 14 seconds to even the score. That’s when Kollyn Crenshaw took Hudson’s kickoff at the 1 and put together a 99-yard return that could’ve been nominated for one of ESPN’s ``Top Plays.‘’ Crenshaw received the kick in the middle of the field and started to the right. His impressive speed helped him outrun Hudson’s kick coverage.
The Explorer’s had one last chance to push Crenshaw out of bounds but he kept his balance and tip-toed down the sideline during the last 15 yards for the score.
Crenshaw’s touchdown was the only highlight for Solon. It was a night where Hudson was unstoppable as the Explorers scored 35 unanswered points after Crenshaw‘s score.
Solon’s only offensive touchdown came on a 12-yard reception by Brandon Boyd on fourth down with 10:30 left in the game.