Monday, October 3, 2011

Mentor's biggest regular-season games the past 10 years

With Mentor traveling to Solon on Thursday for the high school football game of the year to this point, here’s a look at some of the biggest regular-season games the Cardinals have played in the past 10 years – by pregame hype or games that turned out to be great:

2003: Week 4, Sept. 12, Mentor 78, Chardon 7. It was billed as a matchup of longtime area powers. Both teams were ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press state poll in their respective divisions. The Cardinals scored 21 points in a span of 5 minutes, 31 seconds in the first quarter and led, 38-0, at halftime. Chardon shook off the loss and made it to a state semifinal in Division II.

2005: Week 4, Sept. 16, St. Ignatius 55, Mentor 35. They met in the playoffs two years earlier with Mentor winning, 31-0. The Cardinals came into the game 1-2, but that didn't hold down the hype because it was the Wildcats' first trip to Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium since losing to Lake Catholic in 1996. St. Ignatius quarterback Rudy Kirbus, a Willoughby native, was 15 of 16 passing for 253 yards and four touchdowns.

2007: Week 5, Sept. 21, Mentor 56, Massillon 52. The game featured 10 lead changes, the last of which occurred at the end of an eight-play drive in the last two minutes. Bart Tanski, who was Mr. Football that season, connected with Steve Orkis on an 8-yard touchdown pass for the winning points with 24 seconds remaining. Tanski was 7-for-7 on the drive.

2007: Week 6, Sept. 28, Euclid 35, Mentor 34. The following week, the Cardinals traveled to the rival Panthers’ home field and were on the other end of some last-minute heroics. James Thomas took an end-around from Howard Drake on a fake extra-point attempt and scored the game-winning points with 17.7 seconds remaining. Euclid trailed, 34-20, in the fourth quarter.

2008: Week 5, Sept. 20, Mentor 34, Cincinnati Moeller 26: The seven-time state champions traveled north for the first game of a two-year series and a rare Saturday afternoon game. Mentor scored three times in the second half and used a big goal-line stand to send the Crusaders back to the Queen City with a loss.

2010: Week 5, Sept. 24: Mentor 48, South 47: The game featured 932 yards of offense, 51 first downs and four ties. Mentor scored 21 unanswered points in the second half, and Jared Donovan blocked a South extra-point attempt midway through the fourth quarter that ended up as the difference.

Those were some of Mentor’s top regular-season games of the past 10 years. Here are two bonus games that were among the most-hyped in school history:

1968: Week 1, Mentor 19, Massillon 0: This was the game that put Mentor on the map and showed the pollsters that teams from Northeast Ohio could play with Stark County teams. Mentor went 10-0 that year.

1995: Week 2, Lake Catholic 35, Mentor 0: Imagine what the hype would be like if Mentor played Lake Catholic this year. Now imagine what it would be like if the schools had never played before. This was like the Ohio State-Michigan game of Mentor. It was first of five meetings between the schools, with the Cougars winning four.

- Howard Primer

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