Warren JFK’s defensive dominance continues
By Greg Gulas
Ross Nocera and Hyland Burton each scored twice and the Warren JFK defense held Valley Christian to minus 57 yards rushing in Saturday’s 47-7 victory.
Ranked number one in the Associated Press poll of the state’s Division VII teams, the Eagles (7-0, 2-0 North Coast League White) gave up just their second touchdown of the season in the game at Poland High School. In the second quarter, Valley Christian’s Jamynk Jackson raced 90 yards with a kickoff return for the Eagles’ score.
“This game forced us to play faster than we have the past couple of weeks, simply because Valley Christian runs to the ball and is so quick defensively,” Warren JFK head coach Jeff Bayuk said. “This was just a preview as to how we will need to play over the final three weeks of the season.
The only other team to score on the Eagles was Girard during second-quarter action four weeks ago.
Jackson’s kick return broke a string of 15 consecutive scoreless quarters by JFK.
“I was disappointed by the breakdown on our coverage team, so we’ll have to take a long, hard look at the film, examine that play and fix what needs to be fixed before our next game,” Bayuk said.
Valley Christian (2-4, 0-2) managed just three total yards offensively — 60 yards passing offsetting their stalled running attack.
“JFK sets the barometer very high and we’ll try to close that gap next season,” first-year Eagles coach Albert “Butch” Jennings said. “They are what we aspire to be.
“There are a lot of [positives] that we can take away from today’s game,” Jennings said.
Dan McCarthy got the Eagles on the board first with a 68-yard run on the opening series.
Nocera scored from a yard out near the end of the opening frame and on a 6-yard run midway through the second period for a 21-0 lead.
“Our offensive line was outstanding once again, opening holes for everyone the entire game,” said Nocera, adding that they’ve set the tone the entire season.
Nocera said linemen don’t get credit, but should.
After Jackson’s score, JFK quarterback Gregory Valent found Burton from 24 yards out for a 28-7 halftime advantage.
Burton then took an interception 30 yards to the house, the first of his career, for a 35-7 lead.
“We’re a small team, but have a lot of heart,” Burton said. “Our defensive front applies a lot of pressure and that makes our job that much easier.”
Bayuk said Nocera and Burton have contributed much to the team’s overall success this season.
“Ross is our iron man, a player who has played nose guard, fullback and tailback this season,” Bayuk said. “He’s the heart and soul of our team. “Hyland has done an admirable job as well. He just keeps improving each week.”
JFK stretched the lead to 40-7, adding a safety and 22-yard field goal by Justin Bofenkamp in the third quarter.
A 16-yard interception return for a score by Dominic Scott with 35 seconds remaining rounded out the scoring.
JFK racked up 261 yards of total offense, 217 coming on the ground.
JFK has outscored opponents, 239-14.