ANDOVER - It took a bit longer than many had expected.
Pymatuning Valley had shown signs of a very explosive offense in its opener last week, but Cardinal dominated early before the Lakers turned to simple power football for a 19-6 victory Friday night at Laker Stadium.
Sparked by the second-straight power display from tailback Kurtis Marsh, who rumbled for 154 yards on 19 carries, it wasn't until midway through the second quarter, on the short side of a 6-0 score that could have been worse, that the Lakers finally established control in the trenches.
PV's linemen took control away and Marsh broke tackle after tackle to get the offense moving, in spite of several penalties and turnovers by the Lakers. Quarterback Josh Adkins also got into the flow of the ground game.
"This was a lot like last week, when we got off to a slow start," PV coach Neal Croston said. "Turnovers really hurt us at bad times, we had way too many penalties again, but punching in that touchdown just before halftime really gave us a boost."
Croston said the Lakers also reacted well to Cardinal's offense.
"We made some adjustments to try to take away their jet sweep in the second period," he said. "They really had been hurting us with it early."
Then, there was that PV offense.
"Once we got going at the point of attack, though, Kurtis did a great job of running the ball," Croston said. "Zach Benedict was superb blocking for him, and late in the game when we had to keep the ball away from them, Zach carried the load running up the middle."
PV didn't get the passing game like it had last week, much of that due to a stiff Cardinal defense early in the game. Once the Lakers took control, they didn't need to pass, and the brutal assault on the ground, leading to 276 yards in 47 carries, was sufficient to win the game.
"I thought our kids did OK tonight, for the most part," Cardinal coach Eric Cardinal said.
"We have three 14-year-old boys starting on the line. The biggest problem for us is asking kids that age to go against more experienced players. PV has a couple really good upperclassmen on the line this year who do a great job at what has to be done. Some of these young kids of ours are used to playing just shorter junior-varsity minutes, so when they get to the varsity level, they get excited with all the responsibilities they now find themselves with, don't know how to communicate like they should, and can't sustain things long enough to be successful on the field."
Kelly writes for The Ashtabula?Star Beacon