Story by Jeff Gallatin
Photos by Ken Hornack
It was a special night in more ways than one for North Olmsted Friday.
Not only did the North Olmsted Eagles wear down Lakewood's Rangers, 33-13, to move to a 2-0 record on the young season, the community of North Olmsted got a boost for its drive to get new field turf for the athletic field.
It was announced that Morris Cadillac-GMC is entering into a 10-year, $250,000 contract with the North Olmsted Stadium Foundation for naming rights to the school district's stadium.
In the game, North Olmsted was led by senior quarterback Brad Novak, who ran for 86 yards and one touchdown. He also hit nine of 12 passes for with one 5-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Joey Keleman.
In addition to Novak, the Eagles used the strong legs of junior Ben Kurcsak, who carried the ball 25 times for 94 yards and three touchdowns.
Eagle head coach Tim Brediger got his first home-field win as a head coach on the same field where he played as a high school standout for the Eagles. He said this team was able to take control of the game with strong line play and a good defensive effort.
"It was a good night for our community with the stadium news, and the kids got wind of that in the locker room. They got pretty excited about it," Brediger said afterwards. "They brought that to the field, and it paid off for them."
Brediger said the Eagles were able to establish their own ground game with a ball control offense, while largely containing Lakewood. He said the North Olmsted lines did a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage.
"We always set out to take control of the game and by establishing our ground game and controlling the other team's ground game," he said. "We're putting in a new defense, but the team is starting to get it down."
Brediger also praised the Eagles for getting their first two scores by converting turnovers into touchdowns.
The first came after Jake Jones recovered a Peyton Graham fumble as the Ranger quarterback was being sacked. The Eagles then methodically drove the ball toward the goal line, with Kurscak finishing the drive off with a 5-yard run. The following kick from senior Ben Lyons put them in front, 7-0, with 8:11 left in the first quarter.
The Rangers, however, served notice that they were in the game as well by responding with their own drive. Graham capped that off with his first touchdown run. But the Rangers missed the extra point, leaving the Eagles with a 7-6 lead.
More special teams issues for Lakewood led to the Eagles' second touchdown.
After the Eagles recovered a bad snap which went over the head of the Rangers punter, Novak had one touchdown on a nifty run into the end zone called back by a penalty. However, the Eagles weren't going to be denied on the drive.
Senior wide receiver Brandon Dickey made a great grab of a Novak pass at the Ranger 3-yard line. That reception set the table for Novak's 1-yard touchdown run, which gave the Eagles a 13-6 lead.
An Eagle drive later on in the second quarter led to their third touchdown. Keleman's grab of Novak's 5-yard scoring toss and the extra point gave them a 20-6 lead and effective control of the game.
Brediger said he was happy with the win and the team effort, but noted there is room for improvement.
"We're still learning. We had some unnecessary penalties which we will be addressing in practice," he said.
The Rangers were led by Graham, who got both Ranger touchdowns on two 1-yard runs, and junior running back Casimier Mitchell, who gained 129 yards on 24 carries.
Brediger paid tribute to his counterpart, Ranger head coach Ron Lewis, and his players.
"He's a fine coach," Breeder said. "When his team came out and got their second touchdown at the start of the second half, they showed they weren't going down easily," Brediger said.
When it was noted it was his first home win as a head coach on the same field where he first played in high school and also served as an assistant coach, Brediger smiled.
"This is a very special place to me. I'm thrilled and honored to be here in this position on a great night like this for the community," he said.
Brediger noted the team has a tough test coming up next week when the Eagles travel to North Ridgeville. The Rangers are also undefeated after beating a tough Westlake team in the opener and rolling over Parma, 58-22, Friday night.
"They're a good team and they've got a running back who's the real deal," Brediger said. "We've got our work cut out for us."
But even with a tough game looming on the horizon, athletic director Mike Ptacek, who preceded Brediger as head coach, summed up the feelings of many people in attendance at the newly-named Drive Morris Stadium.
"It was perfect," Ptacek said.
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