By Ryan Kaczmarski
The Olmsted Falls High School varsity football team put on a running clinic Friday night, amassing 422 yards rushing, but it was the foot of junior Rickey Castrigano which put the Bulldogs on top for good, beating Berea-Midpark, 30-27, with a 22-yard field goal with 1:02 left on the clock.
Olmsted Falls had touchdowns scored by running backs Spencer Linville, Aaron Zawadzki and Matt Archual, but it was senior Noel Caraballo who stole the show with his 223 yards on 25 carries.
“This is the greatest feeling ever,” Caraballo said of the homecoming victory. “I’m going to go home tonight and enjoys this with my family, but I have to give all the credit to our offensive line.”
“Our offensive line is a physical presence, and it really got us going tonight,” Olmsted Falls head coach Tom DeLuca said. “Spencer went down early (with an apparent shoulder injury), and we plugged in our next running backs – I knew we had a stable of them.
“There’s more than just Noel, too,” he continued. “Noel came out and ran like a mad man tonight, and he did a great job. Our kids all did a great job tonight, and we played a physical game.”
Linville ran the ball 10 times for 69 yards and Olmsted Falls’ first touchdown, to tie the game at 7-7 early in the first quarter. The next Bulldogs touchdown was scored by Archual off a 23-yard run to again tie the game at 13-13 going into the second quarter.
DeLuca had no trepidation of using his backup running backs when Linville had to leave the game.
“We know what Noel is capable of and we weren’t going to hesitate to keep doing what we do well, and that’s run the ball a be physical,” he stated.
Zawadzki added two 1-yard touchdown runs in the second half to put the Bulldogs up 27-20, but Berea-Midpark (4-2, 3-2 in the SWC) kept coming back and tied the game at 27-27 late in the fourth quarter, before Castrigano’s game-winning kick.
In the first half of the game, Berea-Midpark was able to move the ball seemingly at will, but the Bulldogs defense clamped down after halftime and made the Titans work extremely hard for each yard gained.
“We changed the coverage a little bit to the weak side and kept our linebackers in a little bit more in the second half,” DeLuca explained. “With our defense, it wasn’t too much about the adjustments, but more about their willingness to come out and do their job. They wanted (to win) this game, and they did.”
Olmsted Falls (5-1, 4-1 in the SWC) earned 21 of its 23 first downs on running plays, while Zawadzki only completed four of seven pass attempts for 30 yards. Kevin Meehan caught two passes for 19 yards, and Archual caught one pass for 11 yards.
Berea-Midpark tallied 444 yards of total offense in the game, but with the clock counting down to zero, the Titans missed on a 30-plus yard field goal which sent the home fans into a frenzy, storming the field to celebrate with the team.
Olmsted Falls now has the task of facing the unbeaten Midview Middies on Friday in Grafton, but DeLuca knows his squad is up to the challenge.
“We’re just going to have to go back to work and prepare the best we can, because that’s a great football team,” he concluded.