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Boardman ends season with 42-12 loss to Mustangs

November 7, 2018
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

The coaching staff of the Boardman football team knew it would have to score early and often if the Spartans were going to upset undefeated Maple Heights in the opening round of the Division II state playoffs.

The Mustangs entered the tournament averaging a tick below 43 points per game using an amazing aerial arsenal. That passing game is led by a quarterback who threw for over 3000 yards and more than 40 touchdowns and a receiver who is committed to Kent State.

The Spartans got the scoring early part of their game plan executed nicely, but it was the hosts from Maple Heights that succeeded with the scoring often portion. After Boardman bounced out to a 9-0 lead, the Mustangs notched six of the game's final seven scores en route to a 42-12 victory. Maple Heights' defeat of Boardman ended the Spartans' season after just one playoff game.

This Boardman bunch finished 2018 with a 6-5 overall record. That was the identical mark the Spartans finished with in 2017, which also concluded with a postseason appearance. This season was the first time in school history that the Spartans earned back-to-back playoff births. It was a fact that head coach Joe Ignazio reminded his kids of after the loss to the Mustangs.

"I told them I was proud of them as young men and their accomplishments," said Ignazio when asked what was said to his team postgame. "Everyone that is a critic puts everything under a microscope and wants to tell you what you are not doing or how you should be doing it a different way. No one can ever take this year away from them."

Ignazio's kids had their lead taken away from them early in the second quarter last Friday night. After a safety and a Mike O'Horo 3-yard touchdown run the Spartans found themselves in full upset mode with a 9-0 lead. The Mustangs got on the scoreboard late in the first period with a long touchdown run then took control of the contest two minutes into the second stanza. Tremendous quarterback Devin Dial dialed up a 38-yard touchdown pass to push the Mustangs ahead 12-9. A perfect two-point conversion pass from Dial made the score 14-9. He would also connect with the wonderful wideout De'Von Fox a couple times to account for two more touchdowns. The first one was a 33-yard strike right before halftime that gave the home team a 22-12 advantage. The second one happened with a little less than four minutes remaining in the third quarter that featured a flashy play by the future Golden Flash. Dial hit Fox in stride and the speedster did the rest dashing 85-yards for the score that pretty much put the dagger in the Spartans' season.

"We went up 9-0 and then just could not execute against their speed," said Ignazio. "It was tough to match their speed and we also had some breakdowns in coverage."

Boardman's breakdowns were few and far between this fall. The team won four of its first five games to start the season. Only one of the Spartans' five setbacks was to a non-playoff participant and that was to a mighty Massillon Jackson squad that missed the postseason by a whisker. Now, Ignazio and his staff will have to face an offseason knowing it is losing a ton of sensational seniors that helped spawn the consecutive playoff invitations. One of those graduates will be O'Horo who was a three-year starting signal caller. Although the holes will be difficult to fill, Boardman's boss will like to decompose before worrying about the pending burden of rebuilding his program.

"We haven't even thought about the offseason yet," Ignazio said. "We'll wrap up with award season and banquet season then get to work."

 
 

 

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