HARDIN VALLEY — Last season on the road, Hardin Valley Academy led Cleveland 13-7 at the half before turnovers and a couple of long touchdown passes made for a 31-19 Blue Raiders victory.
This year, at HVA, the Hawks slammed the door on an explosive CHS offense in the first quarter — four 3-and-out possessions to begin the game.
Meanwhile, a 3-yard Marquette Hayes scoring run followed a 27-yard reception by junior Jacob Greene to cap a 30-yard Hardin Valley drive — set up by a short Cleveland punt — to give the Hawks a 6-0 lead after 12 minutes.
However, “Some busted coverages in the secondary that contributed” to four huge pass plays, TD tosses of 43, 49, 40 and 25 yards from Blue Raiders quarterback Gage Kinsey to receiver Dustin Thomas, spelled doom in a 38-12 Blue Raiders victory on HVA Senior Night Friday evening, Aug. 28.
While acknowledging the busted coverages, Hawks head coach Mike Potter added, “We’re young back there” in the secondary.
In addition, “I think part of it, maybe, is we let off the pressure a little bit, and that falls on me,” Potter added about Cleveland’s offensive surge beginning early in the second quarter. “I think, also, we’ve got a lot of kids going both ways, and I think that played a little role in it.”
But for all of the Hawks’ struggles in falling to 0-2, “We definitely made improvement this week from last week,” Potter said. “We need to focus on the positives, work hard and get better.”
The Blue Raiders improved to 1-1.
As for individuals or units “that got a lot better” in Week 2 against Cleveland, “I thought our defensive box (linemen and linebackers) did pretty good,” Potter said. “I thought Michael Spurgeon (senior linebacker) had a pretty good game, and Ian Salyer (senior defensive lineman) had a good game defensively.”
Other Hawks in that defensive front seven praised by Potter were seniors Alex Peeler, Mason LaSorsa and DeShawn Carey-Parker up front, along with senior linebackers Alex Horton and Adrian Garcia.
“They showed us some things we hadn’t seen defensively, and they brought pressure” second-year CHS head coach Marty Wheeler said about pressure that resulted in first-quarter sacks by Carey-Parker and Sayler, plus Peeler breaking up a third-down pass.
“And we had some drops, and we didn’t execute.”
Senior Braden Schloff, who led the Hawks in receptions despite wearing a cast on his hand, caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from Sam Simpson, HVA senior quarterback, in the third quarter to cut the Cleveland lead to 28-12. A 10-yard run from Ryan Nichol, junior running back, began the 19-yard scoring drive set up by a 10-yard Blue Raiders punt.