Josh Kassil used his offensive line to full effect as he scored
three touchdowns and piled up 186 yards in Westlake’s 21-7 win
over Rocky River. (Photo by Larry Bennet)
offensive line powers Westlake to victory
By Zachary Dzurick
Published Sept. 14, 2005
here for an archive of West Life Sports Editor Zachary
Dzurick's "Red Right 88" weekly columns.
is a different type of football being played in Westlake these days.
One that has made the clock operator's job much easier. Gone is
the run and shoot and flinging the ball around the field in the
spread. Head coach Bob Thayer prefers to grind it out and he has
the horses to do it.
Gaining 238 yards on 44 carries and eating up valuable clock at
the same time, the Demons defeated Rocky River 21-7 at Leo Duchez
Field Friday night.
"Geez are they big," Pirate head coach Ron Lewis said of Westlake's
offensive line. "Those giants pound on you and Coach Thayer is not
going to make many mistakes. He does what he does."
Running behind a line of seniors Jeff Christensen, Brian Caesar,
Chris Pappas, Kyle Harriger and junior Mike Flood and tight end
senior Tom McCallum, Westlake makes no bones of what they want to
"We aren't real big, my left side of the line is under 200 pounds,
but they are playing really well," Thayer said. "We are getting
by with hard work and execution."
Westlake took the opening kickoff and used a 11-play drive to eat
up half of the first quarter before senior Josh Kassil punched it
in with a four yard touchdown run.
River junior Richard Pattison catches sophomore QB Andy Breidigam’s
pass but he landed out of the endzone. (Photo by Larry Bennet)
quick three and out gave the ball right back to the Demons but last
week's fumblitis reared up when Kassil coughed it up on first down.
Chris Auckerman recovered the ball at the Westlake 31.
It was a costly turnover, with starting quarterback Zach Haudenschild
out because of a bone bruise, it was up to sophomore Andy Breidigam,
who found junior Richard Pattison for a nine yard reception on first
down. A long run from Eli George and a face mask penalty then gave
the Pirates the ball on the five yard line. The drive stalled until
fourth down when senior Joe Baldesare was able to punch in the touchdown
from two yards out.
However Thayer did not lose faith in Kassil.
"Josh is our tailback and he has done a great job for us," Thayer
said. "Certainly he has to work on holding onto the football and
he will. But you can't fault the way he is running."
Kassil had two of the biggest plays of the second half. First, on
Westlake's opening drive of the second half, Westlake drove to the
Rocky River 17. But on first down there was a fumbled snap that
could have stalled the drive. However on second down, Kassil took
a pitch from quarterback Alex Kanareff- for a moment it seemed he
might lose it- but he hung on and sped down the left side for a
16 yard touchdown.
River drove right back down the field but senior Kyle McGuire intercepted
a pass near the goal line to end the drive. Westlake took over the
ball with just six seconds left in the third quarter. They ate up
the first five minutes of the fourth quarter before finding themselves
a fourth and five in the River 30-yard line. The coaches in the
booth asked Thayer if he wanted to pooch punt. But Thayer knew what
"We felt confident that we could get the first down.," Thayer said.
"I felt the sweep was there."
It was there and more as Kassil took it all the way to the house
to secure the win.
"It feels good that he trusts me," Kassil said. "I am the focal
point so if I screw up the team is in trouble. I can't say enough
about our offensive line. All week we talked about capturing the
end and they did. They had the first blocks and our fullback and
receivers followed them with blocks up field. It is easy to run
when you are untouched."
Lewis knew his team had their hands full but it was made tougher
when starting quarterback Zach Haudenschild could not play because
of a bone bruise.
"Coming in without our best player and having to play these guys
is a daunting task," Lewis said. "He didn't practice all week and
wasn't cleared until Thursday. We have conference coming up and
these guys are giants. If it had been week ten and we had to win
a championship- he would have played but it is week three. Andy
played well. He is a very good football player and he would start
on a lot of teams around here. I was very proud of him. "
Thayer was impressed with Breidigam's arm and poise.
"They did not miss a beat with the young sophomore," Thayer said.
"They had us confused a bit. Sometimes the devil you know is better
than the devil you don't know. We spent all week preparing for the
deep ball and he came out throw underneath coverage."
Breidigam was just one of several sophomores to play well for the
Pirates. His twin brother Matt has several big tackles on defense
and Jon Gipson broke a few big runs.
Thayer also liked what he saw out of his own sophomore quarterback.
"Alex isn't making mistakes," Thayer said. "We are going to have
to ask him to do more. He is feeling better about himself and the
kids are growing in confidence in him. You will see us open up more
asthe season progresses."
Rocky River will host Avon next week for the first ever WSC conference
game. Westlake travels to Avon Lake where the Shoremen have a 27
regular season winning streak.
"It gets tough but that is our conference," Thayer said. "We are
right where we want to be. We just have to prepare and take our