June 24, 2016

Mostly sunny

High school football: Blue Devils face challenge in Mentor’s offense

MENTOR — A quick glance at the numbers and you might think you’re looking at statistics after a few games of Tecmo Bowl.

In reality, what Mentor’s football team has done this season goes further than a simple video game.

Brunswick fullback D.J. Osters powers into the end zone vs. Padua. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY AARON JOSEFCZYK)

Brunswick fullback D.J. Osters powers into the end zone vs. Padua. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY AARON JOSEFCZYK)

The Cardinals (5-0) entertain Brunswick on Friday in what is easily the toughest test for the Blue Devils (5-0) this season.

Brunswick quarterback Dan Yohman has thrown for 365 yards through five games. Mentor QB Mitch Trubisky averages 311.2.

Scott Suren (5 catches, 110 yards, TD) leads the receiving core for the Blue Devils. Trubisky has options in Cameron Kavan (34 catches, 518 yards, 3 TDs), Brandon Fritts (25, 351, 4), Conner Krizancic (16, 263, 6) and Warren Ashton (13, 252, 3).

“They’re pretty confident,” Cardinals coach Steve Trivisonno said of his players. “We’re a very solid football team. I don’t think there’s a phase we’re bad at. Our offense can put up points and that helps, but having a kid like Mitch makes it go. His feet are good. He runs well.”

Lost in Trubisky’s 104-of-155, 1,556-yard, 17-touchdown season is the fact he leads the team in rushing as well with 235 yards and five scores.

Add it up and it isn’t surprising to see why Mentor — ranked third in the Associated Press Division I state poll — has put up 2,340 yards this season and is averaging 7.4 yards per play.

“I think any team that plays Mentor has to have the approach that if you give them opportunities, sooner or later they’ll get you,” Blue Devils coach Luke Beal said. “Not only do we have to sustain drives, but we also have to score.

“To win the game, you’ll have to find ways to get some stops. You look at their offense and you think there’s a lot of pressure on the defense. But the real pressure is on the offense. We can’t go three-and-out consistently.”

The strain increases even more when you look at the Cardinals’ resume. So far, they’ve beaten a returning state champion (Youngstown Ursuline) and put up 533 yards against the 16th-ranked team in the state (St. Ignatius).

“(Trubisky) doesn’t miss too often,” Beal said. “The real scary thing is you can’t just stop the passing attack because he can do damage with his feet as well. It’s a big challenge.”

That’s not to say Mentor, which is favored by 24 points by one online site and by 28 by another, is going into tonight’s game feeling like it’s a walkover.

The Cardinals have seen Nick Roberts (109 carries, 894 yards, 10 TDs) on film and are well aware of the fact he has three 200-plus-yard rushing performances.

Trivisonno knows his defensive line of Michigan recruit Tom Strobel, Ivy League prospect Jack Hanley, Tyler Koshiol and Jimmy Ritt will be tested by the junior back.

“I’ll tell you what, if we had him we’d be dynamite,” Trivisonno said. “Ursuline had three good backs, Ignatius had one, but I think he’s right there with them, if not better. He’s an impressive young man. I’ve enjoyed watching him on film.”

While the numbers might not be on the side of Brunswick, heart is.

The Blue Devils have scored touchdowns in the final two and a half minutes of three games to win this season and withstood a late rally by Hudson in another to remain undefeated.

No one gave Brunswick much of a chance against the Explorers and they came out on top, so don’t tell Brunswick it has no chance this week.

“That’s the way it’s been all season,” Beal said. “Our kids thrive on it. Go ahead, put pressure on them. Go ahead, tell them they can’t do it. They love it.

“Our kids have been challenged before and so far they’ve responded. You look at last week (a 35-34 win over Garfield Heights), being down two scores on less than an ideal field with three minutes left and they responded. It’s a big challenge this week. They’ll respond again.”

Contact Brad Bournival at sports@medina-gazette.com.


WHO: Brunswick (5-0) at Mentor (5-0)
WHAT: Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division opener
WHEN: Friday, 7 p.m.
WHERE: Mentor Cardinals Stadium