East falls short against Heights
By John Bassetti
So few points after so much work.
East’s 28-12 loss to Cleveland Heights (3-0) had to be frustrating, especially for a player like Derrick Tensley, who ran 28 times for 118 yards for the Panthers (1-2).
At times, Tensley must have felt as if he was hit by each of the 80 players Heights brought to Rayen Stadium Saturday afternoon.
“He’s a fantastic back because he’s hard to read,” Heights coach Jeff Rotsky said.
“You’ve got to control that kid in an option scheme, so we had to play disciplined defense,” he said containing Tensley. “We didn’t let them get off on too many long plays.”
Tensley’s longest gain was 15 yards, while his Cleveland counterpart, Braxton Gamble, also had a 15-yard pickup as part of his 108 yards on 19 attempts for the Tigers, whose previous wins were over Toledo St. John’s Jesuits, 56-24, and Cleveland John Adams, 48-20.
Despite East quarterback Jamir Humphrey completed 10 of 29 passes for 125 with no interceptions, the Panthers could have used more proficiency in the air.
“When they’re playing tight man-to-man and when you’re not facing a zone [where there’s windows], it’s hard to get a ball in there,” East coach Jim Vivo said in defending several overthrows by Humphrey.
Rotsky also acknowledged that his Tigers put Humphrey under heavy pressure.
Heights didn’t need good field positions because it had sustained drives of 65, 57, 63 and 49 yards.
“We had a good first drive, moving the ball, but then we’d miss a block and stop [the drive],” Rotsky said. “We’ve got a long way to go.”
After the Tigers scored following the 65-yard drive, which covered 13 plays, neither team added points until East pulled within 7-6 on Ramone Elkins’ interception return with 3:36 remaining in the third quarter.
After the extra-point kick failed, the Tigers marched 57 yards and De’mone Frisco caught a 13-yard TD pass from Taylor Jones to push Heights’ lead back up to 14-6 with 0:40 remaining in the third quarter.
“He made some big plays and we needed them,” Rotsky said of Frisco, whose 39-yard reception set up Cleveland Heights’ third TD, a 12-yard run by Marcus Bagley.
Jones was 10 of 18 for 146 with one interception. Tensley also had a 2-yard touchdown run in the final quarter.
“Some guys are banged up, so we’re down 6 or 7 starters,” Rotsky said. “But I tip my hat to East because they’re a physical team; they’ve got 28 seniors and that’s unbelievable.”
Heights has 40 juniors in its program.
Despite fumble recoveries by Lester Bell and Daveon Harris, the Panthers couldn’t convert the opportunities. East also needs to find a kicking game and cut down on penalties, such as the 13 infractions that totaled 115 yards on Saturday.
“You preach it and, hopefully, our kids will stop doing those things,” Vivo said. “Sometimes a face mask is part of the game while tackling, but we’ve got to correct the personal fouls and offsides and we’ve got to improve our kicking game.
“We’re a good football team, but we were two or three plays short. We’ve got some really good players who are trying to buy into what we’re trying to sell. We’re going to turn this around and it’s going to be special some day.”