Showing an important game mentality, Nordonia’s defense helped forge a convincing 48-27 win over rival Mayfield in Friday’s home opener.
Aside from a 57-yard touchdown pass just a few plays into the game and a few late-game touchdowns, Knight’s defense held off the Wildcats in this big non-league win.
Football::The best players of week three in Greater Akron
“Our defense is what stood out to me the most in this game,” Nordonia head coach Jeff Fox said after the win.
Football:Knights top Berea-Midpark in Week 2
Fox doesn’t mind giving up a few yards, but he wants his defense to stay solid when needed, but he’s also liked how disruptive the Knights’ defense can be against quality competitors like Mayfield (2-1).
“Our core linebacker of Jeremy Olszko, Logan Villamagna, Brendan Hermensky and Keiran Bell played extremely well against the run,” Fox said. “You’re also starting to see how disruptive newcomer Asher Wilson (two sacks) can be.”
“Israel Petite and Tucker Rusk had big games for us as well, taking out their speedy threat (Nick Biega),” Fox said. “Rusk had several big plays, including pick six, to essentially close out the game.”
The Rusk interception score Fox alluded to came with 3:00 remaining and the Nordonia defense also scored earlier in the fourth when sophomore Vince Natali forced a Mayfield fumble and it was recovered in the end zone by sophomore Caleb Aiken at 8:25. Frames.
Nordonia’s veteran linebackers and defenders have been helped by some younger athletes and that’s a good mix for the Knights (3-0). A 27-7 halftime lead gave the club a huge boost.
Meanwhile, senior quarterback Joey Palinkas revealed the dual-threat portion of his talent résumé.
Palinkas showed his athletic ability and threat at running back against Mayfield.
In addition to a 17-of-23 effort for 199 yards and three passing touchdowns, Palinkas had touchdown runs of five and eight yards. He had 11 runs for 49 yards.
“Joey has a dynamic playmaking ability that has always been around, but really showed up in this game,” Fox said. “He made some big plays with his feet last week against Berea-Midpark as well.”
“He has the ability to both run and shoot, but especially, his ability to make good football decisions while managing that, they’re pretty unique,” Fox added.
Touchdown passes went to running back Zach Zender for 12 yards, an 11-yard touchdown pass to Nolan Cribbs and a 26-yard throw to Mike Ebert, who also completed a 13-yard pass to Palinkas while Knight’s staff has a diversity. Playbook
Once again, Nordonia is spreading the riches as nine different athletes had a catch, led by Devin Tufts, who had six receptions for 76 yards.
“I think what’s unique about this offensive group is how deep it is and how smart the players are at running a variety of schemes within our system,” Fox explained. “We’re starting to see the potential of this group overall.”
Early in the second period, Knight senior Tracy Walker rushed 67 yards for a touchdown run. She had a career-high and team-record 71 rushing yards in the win.
“Tracy is one of our hard-working team leaders who plays corner, special teams and is a backup running back,” Fox said. “She had a tough run filling in for Zach (Zender) who broke for an explosive touchdown.”
Nordonia opens Friday’s Suburban League National Conference game at home against North Royalton (2-1).
“We’re excited to get back to work to try and correct some of our mistakes and prepare for a tough North Royalton team,” Fox said.