Buckeye's Jacob Doerge carries the ball out of the tackle of Cloverleaf's Preston Gregoire in the second quarter of Friday's game. (NICK CAMMETT/GAZETTE)
YORK TWP. — There is a violent yet poetic way to play high school football, and Buckeye’s Greg Dennison has perfected the art in a quarter of a century as a head coach.
The Bucks players are 100 percent on board with the efficient, mistake-free philosophy, especially after soundly pulling away from Cloverleaf 20-0 in a tidy non-league game Friday that took a mere 1 hour, 53 minutes.
A 43-6 loss in the season opener at Revere feels like a lifetime ago for Buckeye (2-1), which still has won 39 of its last 41 regular-season games and now can hang its hat on an offensive identity after two games with junior Jacob Doerge as the starting quarterback.
“When I wake up, I want to win,” beaming All-Gazette left tackle Ryan Smith said. “This means everything, so I couldn’t be happier. Everyone did their job after a hard week of practice. We were the tougher team going out there doing what we do.”
The latest victory over the surprising Colts (2-1) — the Bucks have won five straight in the series — was spurred by a single, overarching fact: Buckeye finished drives and Cloverleaf didn’t.
The Bucks’ three scoring drives covered 12 plays, 94 yards, 12 plays, 80 yards and 11 plays, 78 yards. Doerge was the catalyst during the first two, which put Buckeye up 13-0 at halftime, while senior tailback Dom Monaco stepped up to put the game out of reach early in the fourth quarter.
Whether the formation was I, pistol or three-receiver spread, the poor-tackling Colts couldn’t stop Buckeye’s line of Smith, Austin DiBiasio, Matthew McBride, A.J. Kirlough, Keegan Varney and tight end Logan Schulz. Doerge had 18 carries for 149 yards, while Monaco contributed 18 for 118 and three short touchdowns.
When a Cloverleaf linebacker met the lead blocker at the line of scrimmage, backside help wasn’t there. When the Colts stuffed the middle, Doerge calmly bounced outside. When Monaco got a head of steam, a broken tackle was almost guaranteed.
The Bucks also converted their first six third downs, including third-and-8 and third-and-7 receptions by receiver Anthony Watkins, and recorded 341 yards despite a long gain of 19.
“That’s just our offense grinding and doing what we can do,” Monaco said. “We’re keeping the ball away from the defense.”
Cloverleaf entered play with the top two rushers in Medina County, quarterback Brody Stallings and running back Eli Haynes, but finished with only 139 yards on 35 attempts, partly because the Colts had no answer for outside linebacker Monaco, who had three tackles for loss and a fumble recovery.
That wasn’t to say the Colts didn’t have success, as they used 12 plays and the first 6:29 to march deep into Buckeye territory. The drive stalled when Monaco blew up a fourth-and-2 Stallings rush from the 7-yard line, and the Buckseye offense answered behind 66 yards total offense from Deorge to go up 7-0.
Cloverleaf punted from the Buckeye 37 on its next drive and allowed another long scoring drive — Doerge had 50 of the 80 yards total offense — and sealed its fate when Stallings failed to convert fourth-and-3 from the Bucks 23 with 4:28 remaining in the third quarter.
The theme of the night took center stage again, as Monaco had five carries for 44 yards and scored from 18 yards with 10:38 left in the game.
“Where they made tackles in that 5- to 7-yard range, we didn’t at times and gave up those big runs,” Colts coach Justin Vorhies said. “Offensively, they were able to execute a little bit better than us.”
The road to the Division III, Region 9 playoffs doesn’t get any easier for the Bucks, who travel to shockingly undefeated Lutheran West next week before a home date with star running back Brandon Coleman and Patriot Athletic Conference Stripes Division power Columbia (2-1).
No big deal. The Bucks have their swagger back.
“This is a great confidence booster for the team because I think we’re just going to keep on rolling from here,” Monaco said.
“We like to run the ball, pound the rock,” Smith said. “I think we’re pretty good at it, too.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Buckeye 20, Cloverleaf 0
CLOVERLEAF 0 0 0 0 — 0
BUCKEYE 7 6 0 7 — 20
B — Dom Monaco 2 run (Clay Gunkelman kick), 0:01.5.
B — Monaco 1 run (kick failed), 2:55.
B — Monaco 18 run (Gunkelman kick), 10:38.