Boardman lost four players due to injury, including its leading rusher, in the first half of play and fell to Dresden Tri-Valley, 27-2, in opening round, Div. I grid playoff action last Friday night at Boardman Stadium before some 4000 fans.
The Spartans bowed out with a 6-5 log on the season, while Tri-Valley advanced to second round play to face Massillon Perry, 9-2, this Friday night at Dover’s Don Crater Stadium. Perry edged the Spartans, 13-10, in the fourth week of the regular season.
Tri-Valley was making its eighth appearance in the last nine seasons in playoff action under head coach Justin Buttermore.
The Scotties won the coin toss and elected to kick off to the Spartans to open the game.
The Spartans went three and out on their first series and Tri-Valley got the ball back on their own 37 yard line for their first possession of the game.
Their first play from scrimmage was a Ty McGee pass completion to Matt Lawler that went 14 yards.
On their second play from scrimmage, tailback Cody Collins romped 14 yards for another first down, this one to the Spartans 35 yard line.
Two more plays, both on the ground, gave the Scotties another first down when Collins was tackled at the 20 yard line by Wes Thompson.
After a short pass completion moved the ball four yards, the Scotties went back to Lawler on a run that was stuffed by Thompson after a three yard gain. But Thompson, a key to the Spartans defense, went down and out on the play with a leg injury.
Tri-Valley stayed on the ground on third and fourth downs. Both plays were stopped by Erick Ritz and Boardman got the ball back on their own 16 yard line.
The Spartans staged three straight running plays, all by their leading rusher on the season, Mario Graziani, who lugged the ball on a 17 yard run on a third and 9, to give the Spartans a first down at the 44 yard line. The play was costly to Boardman, as Graziani left the game with an ankle injury. He would not return.
Boardman moved into Tri-Valley territory when quarterback J.R. Ryan hit Austin Barone for a first down. But a holding penalty and two short runs forced the Spartans to punt, facing a fourth and 24.
The Scotties got the ball back with 1:17 left in the first stanza. A first down run by McGee and a second down, 38 yard pass to Lawler gave the Scotties a first down at the Boardman 33 yard line. Tri-Valley went back to the ground game on first down and on the play, the referees called Boardman for a late hit, giving the Scotties a first down at the 7 yard line.
Boardman’s defense stiffened, when Jordan Acevedo stopped a run on second down and Gaven Strines and Ritz stuffed a third down run.
Tri-Valley had to settle for a 19-yard Chase Dinan field goal to assume a 3-0 lead at 10:13 of the second quarter.
The Spartans gave the ball back to Tri-Valley on the third play of the next series when J.R. Ryan’s fumble was recovered by the Scotties at the 33 yard line.
It took Tri-Valley just four plays to find paydirt as Cody Collins tallied from three yards out with 6:29 left in the first half.
Another Dinan field goal, this one from 20 yards out, made it 13-0 at the half.
Tri-Valley’s Colin Slaboden opened third quarter play with a 66 yard kickoff return to the Boardman 16 yard line. Three plays later, Collins tallied from a yard out and Boardman faced a 20-0 deficit.
The Spartans opened third quarter play with a new quarterback, sophomore Noah Falleti. His first play from scrimmage began with a bobbled snap from center that moved Boardman back to its one yard line. But face mask and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties gave the Spartans some hope, moving the ball out to the 38 yard line.
The Spartans could manage just seven yards in three plays and punted, giving the Scotties the ball back on the 14 yard line.
Two plays later, Andrew Newson, said to be recovering from a broken leg suffered during the regular season, scampered 88 yards into the end zone to take the air out of any Spartan hopes.
The Spartans failed to score on four possessions in Tri-Valley territory in the second half, three because of turnovers, and got their only points of the game in the final stanza when a Tri-Valley punt snap went into the end zone.
Tri-Valley ended the game with a 356-183 bulge in total offense, including 238 yards on the ground.
“Tri-Valley is a good football team that beat us up front. Their community is a football community
“We lost Mario Graziani on our second series on offense and I think it took the wind out of our sails. I hated to see a kid like that go out the way he did. I told him it was only fitting that his final run was a 17 yard gain where he was weaving in and out of the defense before being brought down. We had not had to deal with the injury bug all year and it seemed to hit us all at once. We had three other two-way starters go out the first half as well. But, Tri-Valley was the better football team. Hats off to them,” Spartan head coach Joe Ignazio said.
The Coach lauded his seniors.
“Our 14 seniors are special group of student-athletes. I am proud that the 2015 year gets to go up on our wall forever as being a team to make the playoffs. This group endured more adversity than anyone could ever imagine and they always kept coming back and battling. They are everything you want in a group of seniors,” Ignazio said.
“We preached all week that we had to be a physical team, and our kids rose to the occasion,” Tri-Valley head coach Buttermore said. “I would not have thought, quite honestly, that we could have controlled the game as well as we controlled the game. But our kids, to their credit, never had any doubt. They came out and played very well from the start on both sides of the ball.”
PICTURED: Quarterback Andrew Newsom, 10, playing on a broken leg suffered earlier in the season against Sheridan, put the game away with an 88-yard scoring run with 6:24 left in the third quarter against Boardman last weekend. Attempting to chase him down is Boardman’s Alex Duda, 8.