North Star’s Strasiser brothers helped the Cougars come away from Blacklick Valley with a 32-13 WestPAC victory over the host Vikings on Saturday afternoon.
Junior quarterback Max Strasiser was 9 of 15 for 209 yards, rushed for one touchdown and threw two scoring strikes to his brother, Tony.
The younger Strasiser, a 6-foot-5 sophomore receiver, finished with five catches for 146 yards.
“We just couldn’t stop No. 4 (Tony Strasiser),” Blacklick Valley coach Bill Zamboni said. “He’s a nice ballplayer. We just couldn’t match up with him.”
North Star (5-2) scored on its opening two drives in the first quarter.
On the first possession, Max Strasiser used pass plays of 37 yards to Brandon Watkins and Tony Strasiser to move the ball down to the 2. Two plays later, the Cougars’ quarterback scrambled in for the touchdown. The conversion pass failed, but the visitors led 6-0.
The Vikings (3-4) began their answering drive from their own 34 and marched down to the North Star 20, keyed by a
24-yard pass from quarterback Victor Manda to John Sheesley. The Cougars’ defense came up big, forcing a fumble, which was recovered by Dylan Friedlin, ending the scoring threat.
On North Star’s next drive, it went
80 yards on six plays, ending with a
22-yard pass from brother to brother. The kick failed, but North Star led 12-0.
Blacklick Valley responded with an impressive 70-yard drive on 13 plays including a 27-yard pass play from Manda to tight end Mike Stefanick on fourth down to keep the series alive. The Vikings scored on a Manda dash from a yard out and Sheesley added the kick to pull the hosts to within 12-7 with 9:59 on the clock in the second.
Each team added another score before the half.
North Star’s touchdown came after a Max Strasiser fumble recovery, on one play, a 61-yard scoring strike from Max Strasiser to Tony to give the Cougars an 18-7 lead.
Blacklick’s score also came following a turnover as Austin Crowe picked Max Strasiser – his first interception of the season.
Two plays later Manda hit Sheesley for a 38-yard touchdown, narrowing the gap to 18-13.
Manda was Blacklick’s leading rusher with 80 yards on 17 carries and was 12 of 27 passing for 179 yards. Sheesley finished with seven catches for 115 yards.
The Cougars added a 9-yard Bryan Zborovancik touchdown and a 4-yard Friedline score along with a pair of Brantley Rice kicks in the second half.
“Obviously when you win, you think it was a pretty good game,” North Star coach Stacy Schmitt said. “It’s always tough to play up here so it’s nice to come out of here with a victory.”
The Vikings had several chances to cut into the North Star lead, including an
18-play drive that consumed nearly
7½ minutes in the fourth quarter, but came away empty.
“We moved the ball, we just kind of broke down in key situations,” Zamboni said. “We were in their territory a lot, we just couldn’t get that third score. That third score might have made the difference. We got inside their 30 and just couldn’t come up with the big play.”
With time winding down, the game’s most controversial play took place.
After scoring their final touchdown with 29.5 seconds remaining, the Cougars onside kicked the ball to the startled Vikings.
The incident was not well received by the Blacklick Valley fans, players or coaches.
“I think as educators, we’re supposed to teach sportsmanship and I’m sure glad that we tried to keep it and I’m glad our coaches did, but I can’t say the same for North Star,” Zamboni said.
“I’m real embarrassed for them. To end like that, well I had a lot of ninth graders in the game.”
Schmitt said it was a case of miscommunication.
“With the wind, I called for a squib kick and when the kid saw me give the squib kick sign, he thought I meant the onside kick,” Schmitt said. “We weren’t trying to do anything there because that’s how you get kids hurt.”