Huskies pull away from Panthers, retain VALES Trophy | News, Sports, Jobs

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Joe Lovell
TAKING THE HIT — Harrison Central’s Clayton Vermillion takes a hit from Buckeye Local’s Skyler Ebright during Friday night’s game.

YORKVILLE — The Huskies dropped the curtain on the regular season Friday night by putting the bite on the Panthers at World War II Memorial Stadium.

Harrison Central capped its sparkling 8-2 pre-playoff campaign with a 49-7 mercy-rule nod over rival Buckeye Local in the 13th annual V.A.L.E.S. Trophy game.

Coach Anthony Hayes’ Huskies entered the contest ranked No. 4 in Ohio’s Division V, Region 17. They have already clinched a home game in the first round of the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the Panthers closed out at 1-9 on the season for Coach Jim Hoover. Harrison Central won last year’s V.A.L.E.S. game, 45-34.

Buckeye Local put up a game fight for one quarter, leading 7-6 at one point. Harrison, however, ran off 22 unanswered points the balance of the first half for a 28-7 halftime lead. That margin would only mount over the final two quarters.

“The game was what we thought it would be,” Hayes said. “It was a physical battle. Buckeye played well early on.

“We made some really big plays that helped to break the game open. We had nice offensive balance,” he added. “It was a nice way to end the regular season with a big win over one of our rivals.”

Harrison accounted for nearly 450 yards in offense. The winners rushed for 281 and added 167 via the air.

Huskies’ junior Mykel Quito turned in a sparkling night toting the leather. The 225-pound workhorse carried 12 times for 159 stripes and two TDs.

Quarterback Hayden Cassidy also enjoyed a fine outing for Harrison. The senior ace completed 8-of-12 tosses for 152 yards and one TD.

“I am proud of our guys. That have had a good season and we are not done yet,” Hayes said. “They have grown so much from the beginning of the season.

“I have a great coaching staff. I can’t thank them enough,” he continued. “They deserve so much credit for how we have improved as the season has played out.”

Harrison drew first blood on its second possession. Following a Buckeye punt, the Huskies drove 87 yards on just six plays. Quito capped the march with a 16-yard gallop with 6:05 showing in the first quarter. The PAT kick failed.

Buckeye responded immediately.

Coach Jim Hoover’s youthful charges put together a 65-yard drive, encompassing 11 plays. Noah Kourim climaxed the drive from 16 yards out with 1:20 remaining in the opening quarter. Haydn Boyce added the PAT kick, giving the hosts a short-lived 7-6 lead.

Harrison wasted no time regaining the momentum as junior dandy Cam McAfee scooped up the ensuing kickoff at his 18 and returned it 82 yards to paydirt, breaking numerous tackles along the way. Parker Hutton ran in the bonus points for a 14-7 lead.

The Huskies never looked back.

McAfee tacked on rushing TDs covering 15 and 13 yards, respectively, enabling Harrison to build a 28-7 lead. The Panthers were dealt a lethal blow when Cassidy teamed with Hutton on a 33-yard scoring strike with no time left in the first half, boosting the Huskies advantage to 35-7 at intermission.

Harrison added two more six-pointers in the second half. Quito scored from 11 yards out before sophomore Beau Rinkes scooted in from 22 yards. Lucas Thomas added PAT kicks after the final two TDs.

Buckeye, which featured a roster with just three seniors, was limited to 153 total yards, 90 coming on the ground. Kourim led the way with 44 stripes while Alex McDiffitt picked up 35 yards.

“We made too many mistakes and gave up too many big plays,” Hoover said. “We take the lead then give up a TD on the ensuing kickoff. That changed the complexion of the game.

“That has been the story of our season. That is a reflection of our youth,” added the former Eastern Michigan gridder. “But I can’t fault our effort. Our kids played hard.”

Buckeye turned the ball over three times.

“We are excited to host the first home playoff game in school history. One of our goals this year was to win the school’s first home playoff game,” Hayes noted. “Going into tonight there were four or five teams we thought we could end up playing. But the big thing is we will be playing at home.”

The Huskies now hold a commanding 11-2 advantage in the V.A.L.E.S. series which began in 2011, the contests have represented the acronym: Veterans. Athletes. Legionnaires, Education. Sportsmanship.

Harrison 14 21 14 0 – 49

Buckeye 7 0 0 0 – 7

Harrison – Quito 16 run. Kick failed

Buckeye – Kourim 16 run. Boyce kick.

Harrison – McAfee 82 kickoff return. Hutton run.

Harrison – McAfee 15 run. Run failed

Harrison – McAfee 13 run. Hutton pass from McAfee.

Harrison – Hutton 33 pass from Cassidy. Quito kick.

Harrison – Quito 11 run. Thomas kick.

Harrison – Rinkes 22 run. Thomas kick.

RUSHING: Harrison 31-281 tis (M. Quito 12-159-2tds, Wurschum 1-2, Hutton 2-14, Rinkes 5-35-td, Atkins 1-8, Stabile 2-10, McAfee 3-33-2tds, J. Quito 1-1, Locke 6-4) Buckeye Local 30-90-td (McDiffitt 13-35, Kourim 8-44-td, Ebright 3-2, Luster 2-4, Work 4-7).

PASSING: Harrison 9-13-167 yards-1td (Cassidy 8-of-12-152 yards-td, Hyre 1-1-15 yards. Buckeye Local 4-of-11-63 yards-2 int (McDiffitt 4-of-10-63 yards-1int, Ebright 0-1-int).

RECEIVING: Harrison 9-163 yards-td (Hutton 3-54-td, Vermillion 2-47, McAfee 2-12, J. Quito 2-54) Buckeye Local 4-63 yards (Takach 1-10, Luyster 1-10, Kourim 1-35, Boyce 1-8.)

FIRST DOWNS: Harrison 14, Buckeye 9

FUMBLES/LOST Harrison 1/1; Buckeye 4/1

PENALTIES: Harrison 5-51, Buckeye 2-25.

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