Western Reserve shuts out Mineral Ridge: Blue Devils bounce back from slow start to earn 28-0 win
BERLIN CENTER — After opening the game with a 7-minute drive that ended in a goal line interception, Western Reserve wasn’t shaken up. Luke Henning, the sophomore quarterback, could have been thrown off his game after the mistake, but like his team, got back to the next play.
That’s the message that Blue Devils coach Jason Lude preached to his team after the turnover and it stuck, as Western Reserve blanked Mineral Ridge, 28-0, Friday in a Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference Scarlet Tier tilt.
The Blue Devils did a great job maintaining possession early in the contest, leaving under five minutes on the clock in the first quarter by the time the Rams hit the field for the first time.
That’s where Western Reserve’s defense stepped in and did what they’ve had a hard time doing all year.
“We held them to I think 10 snaps in the first half, our offense was just controlling the ball and doing a great job,” Blue Devils coach Jason Lude said. “Defensively, for the first time, we started finishing on third down. We’ve held teams to third and long, we just haven’t been able to get off the field and they finished tonight and that showed in the first half.”
Henning threw for 75 yards on four completions and ran for another 36. Henning got Western Reserve on the board, with two rushing touchdowns in the second quarter.
Blue Devils tailback David Altiere rushed for 171 yards. While the Rams did a good job containing him early, Altiere eventually broke through in the second half, running for a 39-yard score. Altiere also had the two 2-point conversion runs on the first two scores.
“I’ve said several times I think he’s the best back to ever play here,” Lude said. He’s going to break, they can only contain him for so long and he finally started breaking them in the second half. He ran so hard in the first half and I thought that line especially started paving holes in the second half.”
By the end of the game, Mineral Ridge was stringing drives together, but weren’t able to get on the scoreboard. Rams quarterback Mark Bunch was trying to make plays happen, but kept getting shut down by the Blue Devil defense.
“They just wore us down,” Rams coach Brian Shaner said. “Their line played a great game, very physical and we knew that if we don’t keep up scoring-wise it was going to happen to us. Their line did a great job of breaking us down and Altiere is a great back. He’s easily one of the best in the area.”
Next week, Western Reserve (3-3) takes on McDonald and longtime coach Dan Williams. Lude, a 2008 graduate of Western Reserve, went up against the Williams-coached McDonald teams as a player and never topped them.
Lude mentioned how excited he was to go against McDonald and joked that the two power run offenses would make for a quick evening.
“He’s got athletes, he’s got big linemen,” Lude said about Williams. “They might spread it out a little bit more now. They could do a little more two-by-two and three-by-one, but it’s McDonald football. They’ve been doing the same thing for 20 years, they give it to their athletes.
“It might be the quickest game in history with the way we run it and they run it, it might be a 40 minute game next week. I’m looking forward to that matchup. I’ve never beat McDonald, not as a player here as a coach here, not in anything. Not basketball, football, anything, so I’m extremely eager.”
Mineral Ridge (2-4) looks to right the ship at home against Jackson-Milton.
“We’ve just got to take care of us,” Shaner said. “Like I said, we’ve got to go back to work, we’ve got to practice hard, we’ve got to execute and we’ve got to tackle a heck of a lot better. We get to play at home and if you don’t play hard at home, you’re not in the sport for the right reason.”