Auroa -- The Greenmen football team didn't waste any time rebounding from its first loss of the season, as the locals soared to a 61-7 Homecoming victory over Wickliffe.
The blowout at Veterans Stadium on Oct. 11 pushed Aurora to 6-1 overall and 3-1 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division. Wickliffe (3-4) slipped to 1-3 in CVC play and scored its lone touchdown in the fourth quarter.
"Any time you have a tough loss, it's important to come back strong -- not just in the game, but in practice as well," explained head coach Bob Mihalik. "Our kids responded with a great week of practice and played well against a Wickliffe team that was averaging almost 30 points a game."
Chagrin Falls and Kenston, both 5-2 overall, also stand 3-1 in the CVC, while West Geauga (6-1) is 4-0, including a win over Aurora. Chagrin and West G. square off on Oct. 18.
In upcoming league action on Oct. 18, Aurora plays at Lake County Perry (3-4, 2-2).
"We have another big one at Perry and they have a multiple team on both sides of the ball," pointed out Mihalik, who will coach in his 150th career game at Aurora. "Perry shows a lot of formations, fronts and looks on both sides. We just need to be ready mentally."
Setting season highs in both first downs (27) and total yards (568), Aurora controlled the Wickliffe game in the trenches and at the skill positions.
Defense set the tone as Aurora stopped Wickliffe's feared Wing-T offense and vaulted to a 33-0 halftime lead, after which Mihalik emptied his bench. It was special teams that got the Greenmen going early.
Versatile Joe Dinardo returned the Blue Devil opening kickoff 91 yards untouched for a touchdown.
Speedy Kirk Janoch sat out the game to rest his injured ankle. He has played tailback, wide receiver, strong safety and has stood out in the return game on special teams, but this time it was Dinardo's turn.
"JOE SET THE tone for us and he did a great job on that return, but the credit also has to go to the entire return unit," stressed Mihalik. "Kirk rehabbed well and he should be back."
A pair of 5-yard scoring runs and a TD pass gave senior signal caller George Bollas the hat trick with three TDs in the first half. He finished with 235 total yards, including 10 of 16 passing for 158 yards with one TD and one interception.
Bollas had a 17-yard scoring strike to senior fullback Mitch Lackey, a tailback who has been used as a fullback in the past. The latter led AHS in rushing with a career high 82 yards on five carries.
"Mitch had a really nice game," said Mihalik, who had 14 different players carry the ball.
Junior Ryan Devine had a 9-yard touchdown run, while senior fullback Romel Pollard scored on a 5-yard burst, senior back Brendon Kimes had a 6-yard TD and senior Tom Branstein scored on a 60-yard romp.
Junior fullback Xavier Medley scored on an 8-yard run, while sophomore placekicker Andrew Seidel had a strong game with seven extra points in his debut.
"Seidel did a really nice job, and for a sophomore to kick for the first time in a varsity game is great," said Mihalik, who used all of his 72 players.
Pollard ran well with 61 yards on seven totes. Bollas had six carries for 77 yards while Branstein also had a season high.
Defensively, junior end Brandon Zamary had a stellar outing with 10 tackles, including four solos, a caused fumble and a tackle for loss. Mihalik also was pleased with Pollard from his end post. He had six stops, caused a fumble and recovered a fumble.
"We wanted to give everyone a chance to play," said Mihalik, who noted senior wide receiver Andrew Rinicella led the Greenmen with three catches for 49 yards. Bollas hit six different players in the win.