A terrific season by the Poland football team came to an end this past Friday night in Ravenna.
The Bulldogs became another victim in the undefeated run of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary when they were eliminated by the Irish 35-7 on Nov. 15 in the second round of the Division III state playoffs. Poland finished 2013 with a 10-2 record.
There was little doubt before the game that the local kids would have to play close to a perfect game to upset the perfect Irish. Poland didn't come close to doing that unfortunately. The Bulldogs didn't score on offense, only recorded 123 total yards and eight first downs, gave up more points than they have in any game this year and turned the ball over three times. Making matters worse was starting quarterback Dom Petrony suffered a rib injury in the third period when Poland still had time left for a comeback. Since the Bulldogs were playing more like poodles offensively, however, it didn't really make a difference who was behind center.
Photos by Mike Capps, Town Crier correspondent
Poland’s Tyler Smith (12) leaps to block an extra point in the first quarter against St. Vincent-St. Mary.
"We just couldn't generate enough offense," was all Poland head coach Mark Brungard could mumble after the game.
Poland's best offense was actually its special teams. Down 14-0 entering the third quarter, speedy kick returner Austin Wilson got the Bulldogs on the board by taking the second half kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. Coach Brungard cited that remarkable return as a real confidence builder. He meant confidence for his club, not for the Irish, but it seemed like that's where the self-assurance went. St. V's scored on a running play five minutes later to push its lead back to two touchdowns then tallied the only two scores of the fourth quarter to send Poland packing.
Despite the Irish's ease in scoring, it wasn't like they dominated Poland's defense. Bulldog defenders did an adequate job against their top-notch opponent, it was just that the three turnovers committed by Poland's offense allowed short fields for St. V's. Like any team with a 12-0 record, the Irish took advantage of every one of those opportunities Poland afforded it.
The opportunity for Poland to play in a state championship is now over, but next year should be another banner one for the Bulldogs. Although the Bulldogs will lose some sensational seniors who were vital to both the offense and defense, there were a lot of juniors and sophomores who supplied some punch to Poland. Perhaps the largest obstacle facing Coach Brungard will be replacing leading rusher Ross Gould and receiver George Chammas. At least he'll have Petrony back for his senior season ready to lead both on and off the field so the always-important quarterback position should be set.
The first goal in 2014 for Brungard and his troops will be to unseat unbeaten Hubbard from the top of the All American Conference, but no doubt a rematch with St. Vincent-St. Mary will be something else the Poland players use to motivate themselves as they get in shape during the long, hot offseason.