×

Doing it with defense

Howland, Boardman defenders star in tie

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Lily Essad (left) of Boardman kicks the ball, while Rylie Daniluk (right) of Howland plays defense Monday night.

BOARDMAN — Both the Spartans and Tigers have been two of the Mahoning Valley’s elite teams so far this fall, and last night’s defensive duel between Boardman and Howland proved just that.

The end result was a 0-0 draw at Boardman High School, which left both teams feeling like they had their opportunities, but didn’t score.

“Both teams battled hard.” Howland coach Dan Daniluk said “Both defenses held up well all night long, you know, you’re always looking for one team to make a mistake, and capitalize on it.”

“Neither defense made a mistake tonight, so it was a traditional 0-0 in a soccer battle.”

The Tigers (5-1-2) had more than their fair share of chances to score in the first half, but the Spartans seemingly thwarted every opportunity Howland had. The second half was more of an even battle between the two teams, but neither team could find the net at the right time.

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Boardman players, from left, Julia Yauger, Raegan Burkey and Emma Tokarsky set up a wall on a Howland free kick Monday night.

Boardman coach Mark D’Eramo knew his team was in for a fight.

“It was a pretty even matchup,” D’Eramo said. “I think that we definitely had some opportunities that we didn’t take advantage of, but I’m proud of our performance. We stayed solid in the back. We had multiple players playing in the defense that aren’t typically defenders. And, they were rock solid at the back, so I’m very proud of them. We’ll get goals. I’m not too worried about it. It’s one game.”

Serene Khatib recorded eight saves for the Spartans, while Elizabeth Rusnak and Gillian McMurray combined for five for Howland.

“Sometimes you catch the right bounce. Sometimes you don’t, and tonight we just weren’t getting the bounce we needed to get through there.” Daniluk said.

Shayne Harris led the way for Boardman (4-1-1) with a team high two shots on goal.

Olivia Myers and Gianna Merlo each had two shots on goal for Howland.

For D’Eramo, it was all about the game plan.

“We knew they (Howland) were going to be dominant on one side,” he said. “They attack speed on one side, and strength the other side. So, we had full backs prepared for each of those. Our center backs, Hope Burford and Lily Essad, were rock solid. I trust those two with my life, so I know they’d be very solid in the back.”

Daniluk wants to take it one step at a time going forward.

“Tomorrow is a new day,” he said. “So, we’ll go back to work tomorrow and get ready for our game on Wednesday. But, just every day just wake up, grind a little bit more and try to get a little better.”

D’Eramo feels like his team has confidence defensively.

“If anything, we really proved that we can shutdown an elite attack,” he said. “They had chances, but I was super confident in our defense the entire game. We just got to play. The ball a little quicker and goals will come.”

Doing it with defense

CLEVELAND — Baker Mayfield was hurting following a shocking, stinging loss.

The Tennessee Titans sacked him five times, chased him all over the field and knocked some of the defiance out of Cleveland’s brassy quarterback in Sunday’s opener.

“I’ll be all right,” Mayfield said.

It’s too early to know if the Browns will recover.

With the NFL waiting to see if the hype heaped upon them was deserved, the Browns fizzled and failed. They committed a mind-numbing 18 penalties and showed little discipline during a 43-13 loss that has created doubt about a talented team that might not be as good everyone thinks.

Cleveland had more yards in penalties (182) than rushing (102). The suspect offensive line leaked; tackle Greg Robinson got ejected for kicking Titans safety Kenny Vaccaro in the head; the defensive line didn’t live up to its billing; and star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.’s debut was most notable because he played while wearing a $250,000 watch.

All in all, a flop.

On Monday, first-year coach Freddie Kitchens cautioned against an overreaction to the debacle.

“It is one game in a 16-game schedule,” he said. “We are very disappointed in the lack of discipline that we showed, the loss of composure that we showed at times, and just overall not doing a good enough job from a coaching perspective and a player perspective to get the job done in a positive manner.”

As the final seconds ticked off the clock Sunday, the few hardy Browns fans who hung around until the bitter end booed in a scene that’s been repeated numerous times in recent years.

These Browns are supposed to be different.

They’re not yet.

WHAT’S WORKING

The Browns showed their firepower by taking the opening kickoff — with Mayfield luckily dodging an interception on his first throw — and driving for a touchdown in the first five minutes. They even overcame a 15-yard penalty and Mayfield used his full complement of weapons before backup Dontrell Hilliard scored on a 4-yard run.

This is what Kitchens has in mind for his offense: high tempo, chunk plays, electric.

The opening possession was as good as it got as the Browns converted just 1 of 10 third downs.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

The lack of discipline was alarming. The 18 penalties were the most by the Browns since 1951, and it would have been 20 if the Titans hadn’t declined two.

Kitchens harped on mental mistakes during the preseason, but the message didn’t sink in. The Browns made silly ones, and a few far more worrying with Robinson getting tossed and defensive end Myles Garrett being flagged for swatting Titans tight end Delanie Walker across the head.

The Browns were guilty of five offensive holding penalties. The defense committed four infractions on Tennessee’s first TD drive.

By contrast, the Titans had six penalties.

Robinson will be fined, not suspended, for the blow to Vaccaro’s head. He said it was unintentional.

“I hurt the team, honestly, and I feel like if I could have it back, I would do things differently,” Robinson said. “But it was basically just a reaction. I couldn’t help myself.”

STOCK UP

It’s never good when the punter outshines the rest of the team, but rookie Jamie Gillan lived up to his “Scottish Hammer” nickname and pounded the ball. Gillan averaged 46.6 yards on five punts, knocking three inside the 20-yard line.

Kitchens was also pleased with rookie cornerback Greedy Williams, who started over Terrance Mitchell.

STOCK DOWN

There was concern about Cleveland’s offensive line before the opener, and those worries have increased.

Robinson’s ejection was followed by his replacement, Kendall Lamm, hurting his knee. That forced Kitchens to move Chris Hubbard from right tackle to left and play Justin McCray, who had only been with the team for a week.

But even at full speed, the group didn’t open holes or keep Mayfield from harm.

INJURED

Mayfield suffered a hand injury, which is not believed to be serious. However, Kitchens hesitated when asked if the QB will miss practice time this week.

“I am pretty sure that he will be fine,” Kitchens said. “I can’t say anything definitive right now as far as missing practice time, but I am pretty certain he will be fine.”

KEY NUMBER

58 — The number of consecutive games Beckham has made at least three receptions, the third-longest streak in league history.

NEXT STEPS

Move on. One of Kitchens’ favorite expressions is: “The rear view mirror is a lot smaller than the windshield. I prefer to look through the windshield.”

But there’s a lot coming at the Browns, who whether they like it or not have a huge target placed on them because of outside expectations.

The Titans reveled in making the Browns lose their composure. There’s no doubt other teams will try the same, beginning next Monday night at the Jets.