By Steve Ruman
History often has a habit of repeating itself, as it did Saturday at Warren’s Mollenkopf Stadium.
A year ago, Warren John F. Kennedy started out slow, but used a big second quarter to cruise past Toronto in a Division VII playoff game.
On Saturday night, JFK held a slim 3-0 lead after one quarter of play. However, a 21-point second period propelled the Eagles to to a 38-0 win over the Red Knights in a Division VII, Region 25 quarterfinal.
With the victory, Kennedy (10-1) advances to a regional semifinal game against Mogadore.
A year ago, Kennedy bowed out to Mogadore one week after its win over Toronto (8-3).
Kennedy’s powerful running game proved to be the difference during the second-quarter burst. It benefited from a 39-yard touchdown run from Jacob Coates, along with scoring runs of 45 yards and 1 yard from Evan Boyd.
Boyd finished the game with 127 yards on 14 carries. Jacob Coates rushed for 56 yards on just three carries, while Dominic Scott and Ross Nocera tacked on second-half scoring runs.
Coates also pulled in five receptions for 43 yards, while JFK quarterback Gregory Valent completed 9 of 15 passes.
“I thought our kids played well, offensively about three-quarter of our drives were really good and when they were bad, they were really bad,” said JFK coach Jeff Bayuk. “We need to clean some things up. We may be doing a bit too much. We need to back off a little bit.
“The positive is that we did a lot of things with a lot of different people tonight, and that’s important. The more people that touch the ball, the harder it is for the defense to hone in on what you’re doing.”
Bayuk was especially pleased with the effort of Boyd, a player “who easily could have played in the 60’s,” according to his coach.
“Evan is hard-nosed, he wants the ball and he wants to be on both sides of the ball,” Bayuk said. “He’s done a great job for us. Then the explosive Jacob Coates, any time he touches the ball it has to make people nervous.”
Kennedy’s first points came by way of a Justin Bofenkamp 30-yard field goal five minutes into the game. As it turned out, that would be the only points the Eagles would need, thanks to a stellar performance by the defense. Kennedy surrendered just 67 total yards. Toronto was held to -10 rushing yards and just three first downs.
Toronto quarterback Nate Karaffa completed 12 of 25 passes for 77 yards. Jake Keenan was on the receiving end of six of Karaffa’s throws for 40 yards.
The game was marred by six personal foul penalties on Toronto. One of the penalties resulted in an ejection.
“I was disappointed in some of the things that were going on on the field, there’s no call for that,” Bayuk said. “That’s two years in a row, and there’s no place for that. I thought the officials did a good job, but that kind of mars the game.
“Our kids are pretty feisty, and I thought they did a good job of just walking away from it.”
Toronto’s on-field frustration was also displayed by its coach, Eric Meek, after the game. When a reporter asked about the penalties, Meek responded in a threatening manner.
“Turn [the recorder] off, I’ll take it and throw it off the ... throw it ... .turn it off,” Meek said. “They’re kids, this is not the NFL.
“Go ahead and print it if you want, I’ll have you fired. I’ll have you fired, go ahead and print that.”
Kennedy will meet Mogadore at 7 p.m. Saturday at a neutral location. The OHSAA will announce the sites of second-round games today.