Senecas notch big victory over Gibsonburg

Calvert coach Todd Fox knows his team. At least he knows it well enough to push the envelope when it’s time to decide to punt or go for a first down on a fourth down.

His feeling was right Friday night.

The Senecas went 4-for-4 on fourth down conversions, including a fourth-and-1 at their own 38-yard line as Calvert dismantled previously unbeaten Gibsonburg 38-6 at Frost-Kalnow Stadium.

“Coach (Pat) Herron does a great job week in and week out with this defense and it’s not always an easy challenge. If you look at our schedule, we’ve played some really tough teams, so we just keep getting better and a lot of our guys have the chance to go just one way. We are still young on that defense as we start three sophomores and they’ve won positions from upperclassmen. It’s exciting to see.

“I have a sense of our team and I always ask coach Herron and our defense was playing so well, and it’s more of the mindset I want our guys to have, which is always hungry and always wanting to take that risk and as a coach we have to do the same thing. Sometimes it can bite you, but we were very fortunate tonight to have the kids respond the way we wanted them too.”

The gambling paid off for Calvert (3-2) early in the game, but not so well for Gibsonburg (4-1) coach Steve Reser.

Calvert took the opening drive right down the field, but stalled at Gibsonburg’s 24-yard line. Quarterback Park Hemminger, who threw for 239 yards on 17 of 29 passing, tossed an incompletion on third-and-10, but Calvert was hit with a holding penalty. However, instead of accepting it, Reser opted to decline it and give Calvert a fourth-and-10. That backfired as Hemminger found Corbin Kantner on a hitch for an 11-yard gain. Then Hemminger threw a 12-yard TD pass to Zach Conn on an out to give the Senecas a 7-0 advantage just three minutes into the contest.

After a three-and-out for the Golden Bears, Calvert struck again as Hemminger capped off a nine-play drive, finding Robby Paul up the seam for a 22-yard strike.

Gibsonburg couldn’t maintain any drives and struggled running the ball, which made things difficult for QB Ryan Clark (10 of 25 passing, 113 yards).

“Well, we played a really good football team tonight and we knew their offensive and defensive lines were pretty dominant and they proved that tonight,” Reser said. “They have great athletes on the outside and in the interior and great running backs out of the backfield, but again it was all about the run blocking and pass blocking up front. That’s where we got beat tonight.

“I should have probably put together a different game plan tonight, but coach Fox and his staff did a great job preparing on their end. We tried to take advantage of some spots we thought we could, but it just seemed like whatever we tried, it didn’t work. Hats off to Calvert.”

With how dominant the Calvert defense looked Friday, it still only led 14-0 at halftime. That changed early in the second half.

Gibsonburg’s Madison Jaso took a sweep left 49 yards to the Calvert 9-yard line, before pounding it in from a yard out for the Golden Bears’ only score of the night.

With the score being 14-6 and momentum somewhat shifting to Gibsonburg, Calvert faced a fourth-and-1 at its own 38. Hemminger took the shotgun snap and picked up 4 yards up the gut for a first down, which was just one play of a 13-play drive capped off by a 2-yard Connor Kwiat run.

On the ensuing kickoff, Calvert’s Drew Ronski kicked a pooch kick, which was fumbled by Gibsonburg and Austin Jones recovered for the Senecas. Ronksi tacked on a 22-yard field goal to give the Senecas a 24-6 lead heading to the fourth quarter.

“Our offense centers around our offensive line and they are just playing awesome, but we have some really talented receivers and Park is getting into the groove with them,” Fox said. “We have Fred in the backfield to pound some yards and then Conner Kwiat just wanted the ball some more in that second half, so we try to give our opposing defensive coordinators headaches all week long. We try to find a way to use all of those weapons and keep getting better. It is easier though with a good offensive line.”

Fabrizio capped an 11-play drive with a 4-yard scamper, and then off a Kwiat interception, Fabrizio scored on a sweep from 12 yards out to end the scoring.

In total, Calvert out-gained Gibsonburg 446-249, and had 23 first downs, compared to just 11 for the Golden Bears.

Fabrizio led the Senecas on the ground with 79 yards, while Hemminger added 65. Conn had five grabs for 79 yards, Corbin Kantner added five catches for 62 yards and Alex Keller ended with three grabs for 51 yards. The Calvert defense held Jaso to 67 yards on 13 carries. Kane Gomez recorded six catches for 105 yards.

“That’s a very good Gibsonburg football team right there and we hope they go 9-1 from this point and they are capable of doing so, but to play dominant at this level is exciting,” Fox said. “I kept saying we have a good football team and we try not to prove ourselves to be over-believers, but we need to just achieve what we need.”