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Aurora — Solon turned the tables on Aurora in Week 1. That’s how Greenmen coach Bob Mihalik put it.
In 2015, the Greenmen burst out to a big early lead over the Comets. In 2016, Aurora dug itself a 29-0 hole although it did play relatively even with Solon in the second half.
For the Greenmen, who won nine of 10 to begin the 2015 campaign, Aug. 26 marked two surprising losses in a row — an early playoff exit against Nordonia last year and a surprisingly lopsided loss to begin 2016.
Still, Mihalik wasn’t overly worried. Solon, he said, is a dangerous football team with linebackers that “just flew to the football” and a Virginia commit on the line.
The Comets lost in the second round of the Division I playoffs last year.
“The kids are pretty resilient,” Mihalik said. “They know that we lost to a good team in the playoffs last year and they know we lost to a very good team this week. I think we still have confidence in our abilities. We’re optimistic that we have all of our goals in front of us.”
What was a surprise was how Aurora let Solon off the hook in long-yardage situations. On the Comets’ first touchdown drive, they converted a fourth-and-nine. On their second scoring drive, they managed a touchdown on a third-and-20.
“It’s a concern,” Mihalik said. “The concern is we’re in zone coverage and we’re supposed to stay back and we still allowed kids to get behind us.”
Some of those struggles were to be expected, with a talented Solon receiving corps going against a green Aurora backfield.
The Greenmen are adjusting to the loss of Parker Blunt and Mitch Evans, two cornerstone defenders who were three-year starters.
“Anytime you’re going to replace guys like that, you’re going to have some growing pains,” Mihalik said.
Still, growing pains or not, Euclid isn’t going to take pity on Aurora tonight (Sept. 1). After seeing the film, the Panthers, state semifinalists in 2015, may well test the Greenmen deep.
There were bright spots Aug. 26 despite the score.
Solon outscored Aurora only 7-6 in the second half. Quarterback Mac Austin also played well in his debut, completing 16 of 20 passes despite being under constant pressure.
“He played well for his first game,” Mihalik said.
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