By John Bassetti
J.D. Hall passed for 185 yards and two touchdowns and the senior quarterback ran for another score to lead Struthers over Liberty, 35-6.
Hall’s TD passes were to Ryan Fleet and Aiden Hall for 17 and 16 yards, respectively, as he completed 12 of 28 attempts in the season opener.
The Division IV Wildcats also had 151 yards on the ground with Adrian Brown gaining 34 on five carries, while Keyshawn Chism picked up 31 yards on five tries.
Division V Liberty had 63 yards in the air and 61 on the ground.
Struthers coach Curt Kuntz said that J.D. Hall’s prolific passing was a gauge of the weapons available in the Wildcats’ arsenal.
“It was done to get better at some things,” Kuntz said. “I still think we can run the ball — we need that to hang our hat on — but we have new receivers who needed to get live reps.”
Carson Ryan had four receptions for 73 yards, while J.D. Hall’s younger brother, Aiden, a sophomore, hauled in five catches for 45 yards.
Kuntz was complimentary of Chism because, when a lot of running backs want the glory of running the ball, Chism is willing to hit a linebacker in the face.
“He proved that he was tough tonight and could do it,” the coach said of the 5-foot-9, 175-pound Chism.
“They were blitzing Keyshawn and he did a great job picking up the pressure almost every time we threw the ball. I was more proud of him doing that than anything on offense or defense, combined, because, if you want to throw the ball, the running backs have to pick up the pressure. I’m proud of him taking that seriously.”
Doing likewise was Joseph Macciomei, who also scored a TD after recovering a fumble to set up the score.
Kuntz also gave credit to receivers pitching in as blockers, even if they were flagged for holding on some of Struthers’ nine penalties for 110 yards.
“It’s just that we have great athletes on the edge and their blocking is [part of] football. If those [penalties] are being called — the one closest to me was a lineman on a screen pass that’s going to get called, but...”
Early in the game, Chism attempted to field a punt, but was hit hard when it appeared that the ball was barely in his possession.
“He got hit before the ball got there,” Kuntz said, “so he could have fair-caught it, but he’s a tough kid. You’ve got to at least let him catch the ball.”
The Wildcats got the ball when a teammate jumped on it, then handed it to the official.
Kuntz felt that proactive gestures, such as handing the ball to the officials, are important.
“If we do that — turnovers and taking care of the football, all that other stuff will get worked out. After the play, hand it to the official so he can’t say that the player was down. Let the officials get it — hand it to the officials after every play. If that happens, good things take care of themselves.”
Chism also had a 12-yard TD run, while Liberty’s lone tally was a 3-yard run by backup QB Daveyon Williamson.
Liberty dressed just 29 of its 33 players, due to a funeral in a player’s family, two players who don’t have physicals and another recovering from a broken wrist, said Liberty coach Chet Allen:
“They’ve got some good players and we don’t have enough of them,” Allen said. “When you combine that and some breaks don’t go our way, it starts to avalanche and things start to happen for them and go poorly for us. So we’ve got to dig down deeper and find a way to win next week.”
Asked about his estimation of play of starting QB Hamad Alhmeed and second-half replacement Williamson, Allen said, “We’re going to look at that position and let the better man come out and lead this team.”