By David Fong
Regional Sports Content Manager
Scot Brewer figures Chaminade Julienne’s high-octane offense — led by Akron-bound quarterback Jacob Harrison and a fleet of future Division I college football players — will give even the most experienced defense fits this season.
Against a Troy defense that returns almost no starters and featured a liberal smattering of players seeing their first varsity action, it hardly even seemed fair.
“Hats off to them — they are a great team,” the Troy football coach said after CJ simply ran past Troy 42-7 Friday night at Troy Memorial Stadium in the season opener for both teams. “The blitzkrieged us and we couldn’t stop the bleeding. It’s like we were playing in quicksand. By the time we got our young guys to calm down and take a deep breath, it was too late.”
The Eagles needed just three plays to score on the opening drive of the game, as Harrison completed three long passes in a row — the final one a 24-yard strike to Zack Burneka — to put the Eagles up 7-0. From there, it was off to the races as CJ had built a 28-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.
The Trojans didn’t do themselves any favors, either, as three turnovers in the first quarter led directly to three touchdowns for the Eagles.
Troy would get the ball back after CJ’s opening score and — on the heels of junior running back Elijah Pearson, who rushed for more than 100 yards in his first varsity start — marched down to the CJ 25. On third down, however, Trojan quarterback Billy Smith dropped back to pass and couldn’t find an open receiver, so he took off running. He was hit by a Chaminade defender and coughed up the ball, where the Eagles pounced on it at the Trojan 27.
Harrison marched the Eagles right down the field, connecting with Burneka again — this time on a 21-yard touchdown pass — to put the Eagles up 14-0.
Troy got the ball back and again was moving the ball, but CJ’s Deter Spees intercepted Smith near midfield. Four plays later, Davion McKinney scored on an 8 yard run to put the Eagles up 21-0.
Another Troy possession on the ensuing drive equated to another Trojan miscue and another easy score for the Eagles. This time, the CJ defense stuffed Troy’s offense and the Trojans were forced to punt. The snap sailed over punter Zach Thompson’s head. He tried to kick the ball out of the back of the endzone for a safety, but McKinney pounced on it before it went out of the endzone for yet another score.
“We knew we had to come out and play well against this team to stay with them,” Brewer said. “We weren’t able to do that. They don’t need any help scoring points, but we gave it to them.”
The Eagles would add another touchdown — this time on a 47-yard run by McKinney — to go up 35-0 midway through the second quarter.
Following that score, however, Troy finally got some positive momentum going on offense as Smith connected with Josh Willliams on a 70-yard touchdown pass.
It didn’t take the Eagles long to answer, however, as Harrison hooked up with Tyler Traylor on a 53-yard touchdown pass to put CJ back up, 42-7 going into halftime. On the play, Harrison threw into triple coverage, but Traylor was able to go up and over all three Troy defenders to haul in the pass and score.
“A lot of times, we had guys in the right position, but they were just bigger than us and were able to make the play,” Brewer said.
The second half was played under the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s newly enacted “mercy rule.” Since CJ led by 30 points or more, the game was played with a running clock. The second half flew by, without either team putting up another score.
“I think we had a lot of positives in the second half,” Brewer said. “We came out and didn’t make the same mistakes we had made in the first half. If we had played a normal second half, who knows what would have happened? Maybe they score another 40 points — but I like to think we might have outplayed them in the second half. The kids didn’t quit.
“The kids aren’t hanging their heads after this game. They knew how good CJ was coming into this game — and they played like it. We’ve got to pull up our big boy pants and keep playing.”
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong