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Cyrus’ legs leading Champion

October 3, 2012
By TIM CLEVELAND - Tribune Chronicle (tcleveland@tribtoday.com) , Underthelights

The last few seasons have not been kind to the Champion football team against Girard. The Golden Flashes had lost six consecutive games in their rivalry with the Indians by an average score of 35-14.

Due to a career-best effort by junior running back Michael Cyrus, Champion was able to end that streak last Friday at Arrowhead Stadium.

Cyrus rushed for a career-high 179 yards on 31 carries and scored three touchdowns as Champion rolled to a 41-19 victory, not only ruining Homecoming for the Indians but also evening its record at 3-3 overall and 2-1 in the All-American Conference, National Division.

Cyrus' effort earned him the Tribune Chronicle's Football Player of the Week honor for Week 6.

"It felt really nice," Cyrus said of his performance. "It's good to know I was able to run behind the line. We're all young and inexperienced. I couldn't do it without the line. It felt great knowing I was able to go out and represent my school.

"The coaches are good people. They hunker down and get us to where we need to be."

"He's a great kid and a great athlete," Champion coach Terry Howell said. "He plays extra hard week in and week out. Against Girard he did outstanding. He's dangerous, especially outside."

Against Girard, Cyrus had a 4-yard touchdown in the second quarter to give the Golden Flashes a 14-7 lead they would never relinquish. He added a 6-yard score in the fourth quarter for a 27-13 advantage, and finished with a 5-yarder for the final points of the game.

The last time Champion had defeated Girard was 37-28 in 2005.

"It felt really nice," Cyrus said of ending the streak. "All of us have been playing football together since we were younger and we wanted to be able to go out and show everyone anything is possible and not give up."

Howell said he felt his team may be going in the right direction with its first two-game winning streak since Weeks 8 and 9 of 2010.

"It's been a long four years for us since I've been here," he said. "Girard is always coached very well. (Girard coach) Nick Cochran does a great job. He has a really good coaching staff. I feel this year we could be 4-2 easily and maybe even a little bit better. We gained a little momentum after the (34-14) win over Newton Falls.

"I think we've got a little momentum right now. We played Garrettsville in Week 3 and we let one get away late on a hook and ladder. It was important to go into Girard and close out the game."

Cyrus said he also feels Champion is better than it record indicates.

"I believe the season is going really well," he said. "We had a shaky start because we lost our first game and that's always hard. We decided we needed to recover and go out there and show them what we've got. I believe we're better than that. We should be 4-2 or 5-1."

As far as goals for the team and himself for the rest of the season, Cyrus said, "The goal for myself is to keep up the hard work in practice. For the team, we also want to keep our heads high and we want to give it the best we can."

The Golden Flashes will face another stern test Friday night when they host Campbell Memorial, a team they have not beaten since 2008. Howell said he feels if Champion plays up to its potential it has a chance to extend its winning streak to three.

"(Campbell coach) Mickey Sikora does a great job over there," he said. "They're athletic up front. We're excited about playing them. If we don't make many penalties or stupid turnovers, it's going to be a heck of a football game."