By Tom Williams
After battling the Niles High football team twice in a five-week span, Hubbard’s linemen are ready for some “normal-sized” opponents.
“They are around 240 to 280 [pounds] — in relation to [most] other high schools,” Hubbard senior Tyler Korenyi-Both said of Akron St. Vincent-St, Mary’s line. “But coming off a game against Niles and their monsters, anything after that is probably going to seem small to us.”
Korenyi-Both estimated the average Niles lineman was 6-foot-4, 330 pounds.
Last Saturday, the Eagles (8-3) defeated the Red Dragons, 39-27, to advance to the Division III Region 9 semifinals. In the regular-season game, Hubbard won, 43-14.
“Their offensive line is a little bit smaller than ours and we’re pretty much undersized linemen,” said Korenyi-Both, who weighs 210. “I’m not going to lie — they beat us up pretty bad on the defensive line.
“We’re an undersized DL and they manhandled us pretty good,” he said. “Our defense is mostly our linebackers and safeties [making plays].”
The key, he said, was an early lead — at halftime, the Eagles were ahead, 30-6.
“I was kind of nervous going into the second Niles game because they say it’s rare to beat a team twice,” Korenyi-Both said. “But I knew that if we scored quickly that in the back of their minds they’d start thinking ‘this is just like last time, that they’re going to beat us again.’ “
Akron SVSM’s speed is likely to be a factor.
“They remind me of us, they run the same type of offense,” senior quarterback/safety Brandon Harb said. “They have real good skill players, they are real quick.”
Korenyi-Both said SVSM’s defense reminds him of Poland.
“They don’t blitz very often and they run a 4-3 — they are pretty basic,” he said. “They rely more on their talent than schemes.
“Offensively, they run a lot of different formations,” the Eagles’ left tackle/defensive end said. “Their skill [players] are really fast. They are more shifty.”
Hubbard entered the playoffs as the seventh seed after pounding Canfield 58-28 in the regular-season finale; Akron SVSM was sixth thanks to a 16-14 victory over Ursuline in Week 10.
“That was must-win for them, too,” said Harb of their Week 10 experience.
Korenyi-Both said, “We definitely expected to be in the playoffs [but] it got kind of close toward the end of the season.
Way back in Week 4, SVSM was pounded by Cardinal Mooney, 41-15, Five weeks later, Mooney (3-6) lost to Ursuline (7-4), 44-24. So which game is the best indication of how good SVSM is?
“The Ursuline-[SVSM] game shows more,” Harb said.
Last week, SVSM defeated Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin, 49-23.
“We’re playing them in the same exact situation as Week 10 — lose and you’re out,” Korenyi-Both said. “I also look at NDCL game — they did pretty well.”
The switch to Saturday games for the playoffs pleases both Eagles.
“I like it a lot better because you can sleep in more on game days and prepare myself more,” Harb said. “You can’t really do that on Fridays because we have school.”
Korenyi-Both said he likes how their routine has been disrupted.
“To be honest, I, too, like them more on Saturdays — you get to unwind a little bit,” Korenyi-Both said. “Having school on the same day is kind of stressful. I like to take a little nap before games.
“I get pretty bored with the week-to-week routines of normal practice,” Korenyi-Both said. “We get to go over to the Fitch and YSU to practice and it’s kind of cool to get to do different things for playoffs.”
Harb is not surprised their season is still going.
“We expected to be in the playoffs,” Harb said. “We’ve been talking about that since we were lifting last December.”