High school football: Kirtland ups the ante against bigger schools in scrimmages

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Aug. 6—The Kirtland football team still had some position battles, like at quarterback, to figure out before the season opener Aug. 19.

But that hasn't stopped Coach Tiger LaVerde from pushing the envelope with his highly successful program and scheduling high-level scrimmages against bigger competition.

Kirtland was highly effective in a four-team scrimmage against Division I Strongsville, D-II North and D-V Northwood on Aug. 6, especially on offense. With senior Luke Chuko and freshman Jake LaVerde splitting time at quarterback, and utilizing a bevy of running backs behind a big, physical offensive line, the D-VI Hornets impressed against three bigger schools.

"We want to see who can play against very good teams," LaVerde said of his team, which scrimmages D-IV powerhouse Poland next week. "Who are the guys that are not going to back down and are going to play well against the best teams out there?"

Judging from the Hornets' first scrimmage of the season, plenty — if not all — of his players are ready to answer that bell.

Chuko and Jake LaVerde were efficient in passing the ball. The passing game was set up by play-action, which came on the heels of a number of big-hitting running plays by senior Tommy Gogolin, senior Phil LaVerde, junior Macguire Boyd and sophomore Rocco Alfieri, among others.

The Hornets didn't have much trouble scoring against any of their three opponents in the controlled scrimmage.

"We've got to watch the film," LaVerde said, "but our kids played hard, they hung onto the ball, the quarterbacks completed passes to open guys ... so I think it went pretty well."

Senior George Prusock, a three-year starter, gave the day a thumbs-up, too.

"The offensive line looked pretty good," he said. "Compared to last year in this same scrimmage, we played pretty well. We showed out today and looked pretty good as a team."

LaVerde said the quarterback battle between son and Chuko will continue.

"I thought today they both did well," he said. "With what we do offensively, a good offensive line and a good running game is a quarterback's best friend."

North coach Shawn Dodd liked his team's performance as well. The Rangers played without top back Reontae Lowery, held out of action for precautionary reasons, but moved the ball well behind QB Zach Rummel.

"I thought it went well," Dodd said. "We're a little bit ahead of last year with it being our second year with this (offensive) system."

Curtis Thomas scored a pair of touchdowns and picked off a few passes. Dodd also pointed to Lathe Asad and Dre Coleman for their work on the offensive and defensive lines.

"We got out healthy, too, so that's important," Dodd said.

North travels to NDCL on Aug. 11 for its final tuneup, while Kirtland hosts Poland.

—Perry and NDCL showed bright spots in a four-way scrimmage at NDCL, an event that also featured Boardman and Shaker Heights.

In Perry's session against NDCL, sophomore Walter Moses hit junior Brayden Richards on a curl route for the Pirates' first touchdown. Moses and Richards saw significant snaps at quarterback.

Another Perry touchdown, scored by Jayden Studio on a sweep to the left, was called back via a holding penalty.

NDCL's scored once on Perry as well, with Ryan Lipowski connecting with Brandon Smil in the end zone.