Taking advantage of almost every possible first-half gift, the Westlake Demons ran away with a 28-0 opening game victory over the Brookside Cardinals at Dick Sevit Stadium.
In Friday’s contest, Brookside had five turnovers, losing three fumbles and two interceptions, while giving up 65 yards in penalties, most at times when it hurt most. The majority of the miscues took place in the first half.
Westlake took full advantage. Behind the running of sophomore running back Will Ostrowski, the Demons jumped out to a quick 14-0 first-quarter lead. In fact, the 160-pound sophomore didn't waste any time, scoring on a 2-yard run after breaking loose for a 54-yard sprint on the first play of the game.
Ostrowski, who finished with 171 yards on 19 carries, also scored on a 6-yard run with 6:52 left in the opening quarter. His final score came with 8:36 left in the half on a 38-yard run, ending a one-play drive he set up by intercepting a Cardinal pass. He finished the night with two interceptions.
“He's a stud, a good player,” said an elated second-year coach Dan LaRocco. “He's the kind of player you want to build your team around. He’s a two-way player. We’ve got several just like him.”
With just two returning starters from last year's 0-10 team, Westlake started six sophomores in getting its first opening win since many of the players were in elementary school.
“Last year's senior class laid the foundation for this team,” LaRocco added. “They suffered through that season. We owe them a big thank you.”
Meanwhile, the host team kept making miscues that hurt. The Cardinals gave up a long kickoff return to open the game, setting up the Demons two-play scoring drive.
After getting down 14-0, Brookside was forced to punt, but a 64-yard punt was called back due to illegal substitution. Westlake returned the second punt to the Cardinal 33.
“We didn't start off like we wanted,” said Brookside coach Scott O'Donnell. “We just weren't ready to play. I take the blame for that. We did fight back when we got down. We never gave up.”
Westlake (1-0) got its final score with 2:25 left in the half when Arrington Taylor scored on a 1-yard run to cap an 11-play, 86-yard drive.
Although Westlake did have some mistakes of its own, about the only miscue that hurt the Demons in the first half was a missed extra point on Ostrowski's second-quarter score, giving the visitors a 20-0 advantage.
Both teams struggled in the second half, mainly due to the poor field conditions. Prior to the game there was heavy rain that lightened up by kickoff, but continued to fall throughout the night. Both teams substituted heavily in the final quarter.
“We've got to find a way to score,” O'Donnell said. “We've got to find a way to get some points.”
Quarterback Kenny Grobolsek was the Cardinals’ main weapon, gaining 65 yards on 19 carries. However, he completed just one of 13 passes for 3 yards, while giving up the two interceptions to Ostrowski.
For the game, Westlake finished with 235 yards rushing and 32 yards passing in gaining 12 first downs. Quarterback Mackey Keenan, a 6-4, 200-pound junior, contributed 31 yards rushing and 32 yards passing in completing 4 of 5 passes. But the Demons made mistakes as well. For the game, they lost a fumble and had 70 yards in penalties.
Meanwhile, the 0-1 Cardinals finished with 147 yards rushing, but 46 of that came on the game's final drive when subs were playing for both teams.
“We've got to get better each week,” LaRocco said. “Every team we play gets better. We've only been in pads for 10 days. We got hit for the first time and we hit. It's been a very fluid situation.”
This Friday, the Cardinals return home facing Lutheran West, a 41-0 loser to Wickliffe. Brookside faces Wellington, which beat Black River 17-7, at home. Both games start at 7 p.m.