SULLIVAN TWP. — Two running backs combined for almost 300 yards and five touchdowns and the defense was near-perfect.
That was Black River’s football team Friday night as it demolished Firelands 43-0 to move a step closer to its second Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division crown in the last three seasons.
The win over the Falcons, combined with Keystone’s 15-14 victory over Buckeye, sets up a winner-take-all showdown next week between the Pirates (5-4, 5-1; 8 PAC points) and Wildcats (5-4, 4-2; 7).
“I really feel like we’re peaking at the right time,” Pirates coach Al Young said. “We could’ve gotten some of those early ones, but the kids have really come together and they’re working hard in practice and peaking at the right time. That’s what you want.”
Black River (5-4, 5-1) has outscored its opponents 106-14 over the last two weeks and posted its first shutout of the season Friday.
The Pirates did it behind the play of running backs Andrew Vaughn and Austin Phillips.
Vaughn, who got Black River on the board with a 19-yard touchdown run just 58 seconds in, finished with two scores and 175 yards on the ground.
“It just seems that every week in practice, we just keep getting better and better,” he said. “However, what we do in practice just carries on into the game. We practiced our butts off this week and (tonight) showed how hard we worked. We’re peaking at the right time.”
Vaughn now has 3,615 career rushing yards and surpassed Charlie Moskal’s school mark of 3,388 set from 1996-98.
“I didn’t know Charlie personally, but I hear all the coaches talk about how great of a player he was,” said Vaughn, whose total is sixth in Medina County history. “It’s just an honor to be mentioned with all these great backs that have come through Black River.”
The gritty Phillips chewed up 122 yards in his final game at Art Stevenson Field. He found paydirt three times — the longest was a 49-yard scamper late in the second quarter — as the Pirates finished with 386 yards rushing.
“The win feels good, but the last time playing on this field is emotional,” he said. “I made the most of it, I guess. I just wanted to play my hardest and go out there and get the win.”
Fellow senior Nick Filak (3 carries, 64 yards) scored on a 37-yard TD run late in the fourth.
Along with an offense that was sharp, the defense was impressive despite monsoon-like conditions. Vaughn, Donatius DeMarco and Patrick McIntyre scooped up fumbles as they helped hold Firelands (2-7, 2-4) to just 39 yards on the ground and 123 yards total offense.
“I’ll tell you what, our defensive coaching staff has done a wonderful job,” said Young, who pointed out the efforts of Tim Simmons, Kerry Cullin, Ted Gordon, Rod Twining and Adam Peters. “Those guys have gotten better each day, and you can see the improvement.”
Contact Dan Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Black River 43, Firelands 0
FIRELANDS 0 0 0 0 — 0
BLACK RIVER 13 16 7 7 — 43
B — Andrew Vaughn 19 run (Alex Bacisin kick), 11:02.
B — Austin Phillips 7 run (kick blocked), 7:35.
B — Vaughn 30 run (Phillips run), 6:57.
B — Phillips 49 run (Vaughn run), 4:49.
B — Phillips 15 run (Bacisin kick), 3:14.
B — Nick Filak 37 run (Bacisin kick), 2:29.