Black River's Riley Gibbs runs away from the Fairview defense for a 25 yard touchdown run in the first quarter Friday night at Black River. JUDD SMERGLIA / GAZETTE
SULLIVAN TWP. — Tackles Joey Duche and Eric Cordonnier, guards Mitchell Young and Cole Haswell and center Trevor Scott made sure the pocket was squeaky clean and free of distractions.
All quarterback Riley Bartolic had to do was set the linen, pour a hot cup of tea and invite backfield buddies Riley Gibbs, Travis Sexton and Jacob Campbell to the party.
The Black River football team’s offensive line did whatever it wanted Friday in a non-league game against Fairview — even showing off a longtime enigma of textbook pass blocking — en route to a 43-0 victory that took all of 1 hour, 47 minutes to complete.
Bartolic, who became the first player in the 60-year history of the program to throw for at least 170 yards in consecutive games, brought up the big fellas unprovoked and pretty much didn’t shut up.
“These guys, they’re awesome,” Bartolic said. “I can have a 10-minute tea party back there. Literally I could talk to the audience, ‘Hey, guys, thanks for coming,’ and I still don’t have to worry about anything. Our line, I can’t say it enough: Our line is incredible.
“I really admire the line, honestly. A lot of what we do, they’re the most important people on the team. Everybody makes mistakes, but they honestly do a lot that I hope the crowd can see. I really do. They do everything for us.”
Black River (4-0) did plenty while racking up 334 of its 450 yards total offense to forge a 30-0 halftime lead. Nothing was different in the running game, as fullback Campbell (19 carries, 91 yards, 2 TDs) plowed up the middle, right wingback Gibbs (12 carries, 105 yards, TD; 3 receptions, 151 yards, TD) scampered left and left wingback Travis Sexton (10, 78, TD; 1, 12, TD) powered right.
Cordonnier and Haswell delivered crushing blocks on Gibbs’ 25-yard TD that opened the scoring 3:15 in. Scott and Haswell destroyed the nose tackle and Duche cut off a backside linebacker to free Campbell for a 7-yard score midway through the second quarter, and Young and Haswell’s pulling kickouts allowed Sexton to sweep for a 5-yard TD with 3:51 left in the half.
Finally, a team effort gave Bartolic (6-for-10, 173 yards, 2 TDs) all day to find Sexton and Gibbs for 12- and 85-yard scores through the air — no defender was within 7 yards of Bartolic on either — and Cordonnier and Young pancaked defenders on Campbell’s second short TD.
Not bad for a unit that had to replace graduated first-team All-Ohioan Curtis Roupe and 290-pound tackle D.P. Shranko.
“Honestly, I think we just love to hit,” Duche said. “We have a passion for it, and we have a great offensive line coach in Coach (Matt) Stafford. He gets us ready for each game. All we have to do is execute well. I love that the whole offense revolves around us. I love going out there and just hitting people.”
The defense brought the pain, too, as the deepest penetration for Fairview (0-4) was the Pirates 40-yard line. The Warriors finished with 143 yards, and tailback Jack Provenza finished with 42 on 15 carries.
The Black River secondary came up with more interceptions (2) than completions allowed (1). Brandon Weidrick’s pick was followed by Gibbs’ weaving 85-yard reception, while freshman Ryan Schultz, who was making his first career start, returned an interception 63 yards to set up Campbell’s final score.
Spencer Constable, Jeff Owen, Campbell, Scott and Sexton factored in tackles for loss and Scheck and Weidrick broke up passes for a Pirates “D” that has allowed zero, 13, three and zero points this season.
“All in all, they’re fast and play well together,” 28th-year coach Al Young said.
The only thing Black River was upset about was not having more competition. One-win Oberlin appears unlikely to fulfill that wish next week, though rivals Keystone and Buckeye certainly will in Weeks 6 and 7.
In the meantime, the Pirates will keep on truckin’ behind their 18-wheelers up front.
“We obviously are excited (to win), but personally, I like the bigger games where it’s a meatgrinder,” Duche said. “That’s just what I like.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Black River 43,
FAIRVIEW 0 0 0 0 — 0
BLACK RIVER 7 23 13 0 — 43
B — Riley Gibbs 25 run (Spencer Constable kick), 8:45.
B — Jacob Campbell 7 run (Constable kick), 6:56.
B — Travis Sexton 5 run (Gibbs run), 3:51.
B — Sexton 12 pass from Riley Bartolic (Bartolic run), 0:18.
B — Gibbs 85 pass from Bartolic (Constable kick), 7:24.
B — Campbell 2 run (kick failed), 3:20.