The Bulldogs built a 42-0 halftime lead to spoil opening night at the renovated Tigers stadium.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NEW MIDDLETOWN -- The opening night for the renovated Springfield High football stadium went from memorable to forgettable for the Tigers -- and it happened in a hurry.
The Bulldogs opened a 42-0 second quarter lead en route to a 49-6 win Friday in a game that was called at the 9:11 mark in the fourth quarter because of lightning.
For Poland, things couldn't have gone much better.
"We were working on all cylinders tonight," Poland junior Dave Koval, who scored three touchdowns, said. "Everyone played to the best of their ability, our line protected well and our defense shut them down."
First score came early
Koval opened the scoring with a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown and added first half touchdown receptions of 34 and 41 yards from senior quarterback Sean Clayton.
Clayton, a 6-foot, 5-inch senior who already has a scholarship offer from Akron, hit 10 of 12 passes for 147 yards and three touchdowns in the first half. He also tossed a 21-yard touchdown to senior Greg Fusselman with 2:02 left in the second quarter.
"When you have a Division I quarterback back there, it makes being a receiver so much easier," said Koval, who won both the 100 and 200-meter dash as a sophomore at last spring's Metro Athletic Conference meet. "You just run your routes and the ball gets there every time."
Poland senior tailback Brandon Hardin rushed six times for 101 yards in the first half, including a 73-yard touchdown on a draw play in the second quarter, and finished with 10 carries for 111 yards.
Jim Kozlow added an 11-yard touchdown run in the third quarter for Poland (1-0).
"It's early in the season, but we had a lot of things working tonight," Poland coach Paul Hulea said. "Our defense did a nice job and, in spurts, we did some things very well.
"The key to success in football is continual improvement. We have some things we need to do better."
Bulldogs control scrimmage line
Springfield (0-1) had trouble controlling the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense. Poland's defensive line of David Stanton, Cody Cooper, Mike White and George McNabb harassed Tiger quarterback Dan Schuler all night, playing a large hand in Schuler's two interceptions.
Junior Chris Aracich took one of those interceptions 30 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter to make it 14-0.
Not bad for a Bulldog defense that lost 10 of 11 starters from last year.
"Our defense showed that it's a normal Poland defense," Koval, who had three catches for 81 yards, said with a smile.
The early lead forced the Tigers to throw on almost every down. Schuler hit 10 of 24 for 80 yards in the first half and finished 16 of 32 for 138 yards.
Tiger running back Jon Vivo had a solid game, bruising his way to 50 yards on 10 carries, capped by a 7-yard touchdown run with 9:20 left in the fourth quarter that finished the scoring. Vivo also caught five passes for 21 yards.
Springfield senior Seth Sarty led all receivers with six catches for 84 yards.
The blowout overshadowed what has become one of the area's better non-league rivalries. Poland won the "Battle of 170" (or, more accurately, the "Traffic Jam Battle of 170") last season 19-0.
After topping that score, the Bulldogs might have to guard against overconfidence.
"Definitely," Koval said. "We just have to come out next game and pretend this never happened."