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Spartans take on Golden Bears for a 26-6 win

August 29, 2018
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

Nobody really doubted that the Boardman football team would have much trouble with upstart Youngstown East in its season opener last Friday night at home.

Perhaps the biggest concern was how businesslike the Boardman boys would perform in a game that everyone expected them to win easily. The Spartans entered this season with the expectations of making back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time in school history. The Golden Bears, on the other hand, are picked by almost every expert to finish last in their division.

Boardman did indeed take care of business with its 26-6 victory. The final score was convincing, but as head coach Joe Ignazio alluded to, there is more to a winning football team than just large margins of victory.

Article Photos

Photos by Jim McCreary, Town Crier

Michael O’Horo completed 16 of his 21 passes for 213 yards. Joe Ieraci caught 3 of those passes for a total of 22 yards.

"Talent is common, but discipline is rare," said the Boardman graduate.

Ignazio's squad showed that discipline by committing just one turnover and two penalties. That's a very small total for the first game of the season. They also stayed the course by scoring the game's first 26 points and not allowing East to score until there was only a couple minutes left in the contest.

All three of Boardman's touchdowns were facilitated by its quarterback. Senior Mike O'Horo opened the scoring with a 1-yard touchdown plunge in the first quarter that completed a nice Spartan scoring march. He would then throw his first of what should be many touchdown passes right before halftime when he hit strapping tight end Alex Huzicka for a 16-yard score. That touchdown gave the Spartans a 14-0 halftime advantage. It also capped an outstanding first half for O'Horo who completed his first seven passes of the season and 14 of 19 over the first 24 minutes. He would also add 194 yards passing before halftime with many of those passes ending up in the hands of junior Che Trevena who had 11 receptions for 111 yards.

As easy as O'Horo manipulated the East defense, there was some drama surrounding the signal caller before the night concluded. O'Horo left the contest early in the third period with an apparent lower leg injury. Although the senior limped off the field forcing Spartan Nation to hold its collective breath, he did return for a few plays later. In his stead, junior Wrentie Martin was able to connect on a 10-yard touchdown pass to Cam Kreps. Coach Ignazio was happy that his backup was able to pick up where O'Horo left off and was even happier that his starter is on track to start Week 2.

"Mike is fine," Ignazio said. "(Wrentie Martin) did a good job of handling the offense when Mike was out."

As fine as Boardman's offense looked, its defense was even more spectacular. The Spartans' defenders held the Bears' offense to under 150 total yards. Most of those yards happened when the game was out of hand too. Leading the charge was senior middle linebacker Zach Hillard who lived up to his preseason billing as one of the best backers in the All American Conference. Hillard accounted for 10 tackles, one for loss and had one pass break up.

"Zach Hillard had an outstanding game," said Ignazio.

The coach also bragged about senior linebacker Brandon Zagotti and junior linebacker Rashie Garner who both recovered fumbles. Senior linemen Nikitas Missos and Tino Arcuri also combined to create a safety in the fourth quarter.

The defense will get a sterner test this Friday when the Spartans travel to Howland. Even though the Tigers were held to nine points in a season opening loss to Lakeview last week, they are much more potent than that final total indicated. Boardman bounced the Tigers 35-17 in Week 2 a year ago, so the hosts will have the revenge factor and an anxious home opener crowd on their side. Those factors are not lost on Boardman's boss.

"We are on the road for the first time this year and (Howland) will be ready for us," Ignazio said. "We also start school this week so we need to be mature in everything that comes with that."



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