|Eastwood’s Tony Tijerina
moves the ball. 11/7/09 (Photos: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
GALION — Eastwood’s offensive and defensive lines set the tone early and often in the
Division IV regional quarterfinal football playoffs Saturday night.
The Eagles man-handled Galion, the No. 1 team in the region, right from the start on the way to an
impressive 35-6 victory.
Eastwood, now 9-2 overall, faces Ottawa-Glandorf on Nov. 14 at Findlay’s Donnell Stadium. Ottawa-Glandorf
advanced with a 28-14 win over Wooster Triway.
here for Eastwood-Galion photo gallery
we snuck in or whatever you want to say, into the playoffs with the No. 8 seed. I kept telling our guys:
“We belong here. We belong here. This is a playoff football team,” Eastwood head coach Jerry Rutherford
“This is probably the most emotion we’ve played with all season,” he added. “I think there’s some urgency
in that if we lose we’re done. We’re at the point right now that guys don’t want this to be over and I
think they showed it tonight.”
Galion came into the game 10-0 and ranked No. 7 in the state, but the Tigers had no answer for the Eagles
the entire night. Eastwood had been tentative in regular season losses against Genoa and Patrick Henry,
both ranked in their respective division in the state, but the Eagles were focused from the start
Saturday and it showed.
“When we held them and then being able to drive the ball down the field and score was pretty important,”
Rutherford said. “We knew there weren’t going to be many possessions in the game … and we had to take
advantage of every opportunity and our guys did that.”
Rutherford added that Eagles worked on the things Patrick Henry exposed in Eastwood’s running game during
a 35-0 loss in Week 9, and that made a big difference against Galion.
With the Eagles’ defensive front of middle guard Nick Duncan, tackle Jeff Rutherford, and ends Matt
Pickerel and Clay Rolf along with inside linebackers Bob Hardison and Seth Hoffmann leading the way the
Eagles shut down the Tigers on their first possession, forcing a punt just over two minutes into the
Then Eastwood’s offensive line of center Taylor Link, guards Hoffman and Kris Hayward, tackles Forest
Ickes and Rutherford and tight end Rolf,
took over as Eastwood used 15 plays to go 90 yards while taking 7:49 off the clock for a touchdown. All
15 plays were runs as Pernell Conner capped the drive with a 1-yard scoring run. With Taylor Depew’s
kick, his first of five, the Eagles were ahead to stay.
“That was huge. In the two games that we got killed (Genoa and PH) pretty bad this year, we didn’t start
very well,” said Eastwood quarterback Clayton Ruch. “Tonight we wanted to start fast and we did.
“After that first drive I could just tell we were clicking on all cylinders. I knew we could do whatever
we wanted to and that’s what we did.”
Rolf said the offensive line played well as a unit.
“We knew coming in we had to take the crowd out of it and we needed to jump on them early,” Rolf said.
“We played good as a team. Everybody did what they had to do to win overall.”
Eastwood scored twice in the second quarter. Cody Seifert capped a quick 37-yard six-play drive with a
9-yard run with 10:32 left in the first half. The Eagles increased their lead to 21-0 in the final
minute of the first half when Ruch threaded the needle on a 9-yard scoring pass to Jake Rogers.
While the Eagles were putting three touchdowns and 190 yards in total offense on the board in the first
half, Galion managed three first downs and 71 total yards as the Eagles swarmed to the ball, especially
against running back Cartel Brooks, who came into the game with 1,282 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns.
A play which typified Eastwood’s defensive effort came on Galion’s possession after Eastwood’s second TD.
The Tigers moved to the Eagles’ 32-yard line and faced a fourth-and-one. Brooks got the ball and
attempted to get around left end, but he slipped just a bit, and the Eagles defense led by Justin
Bockbrader, Duncan and Hardison threw Brooks for a 3-yard loss.
In the second half Eastwood took advantage of a fumble recovery by Seifert to go up 28-0. Eastwood needed
only five plays to go 44-yards for the score after Seifert’s recovery. Tony Tijerina, who gave Eastwood
a strong three-pronged running attack with Seifert and Conner, finished the drive with a 19-yard scoring
“I love watching Tony, Cody and Pernell running right by me. I’ll take that every day,” Rolf said.
Eastwood’s final TD came with 3:08 left in the third quarter when Seifert’s 7-yard run capped a 64-yard
eight-play drive, with all eight plays coming on the ground.
Galion finally broke through with 2:37 remaining in the game when Brooks scored on a 5-yard run. A
67-yard pass reception by Brooks from Jack Nicholls set up the touchdown.
“Our line has done a super job for us. Our backs all ran hard. And to shut these guys out until the end
when we had some of our other guys in says a lot of what we did defensively,” coach Rutherford said.
Galion finished with only six first downs and 176 yards in total offense, turning the ball over three
times. Brooks rushed 12 times for 77 yards and also had the long pass reception.
Meanwhile Eastwood piled up 26 first downs and 421 yards of total offense, including 377 yards on the
ground. Conner ran between the tackles for 157 yards on 30 carries. Seifert chipped in with 79 yards on
20 carries and Tijerina added 95 yards on 12 carries.
“They all block for each other, they work together and everyone does their job,” Ruch said about
Eastwood’s running backs.