June 15, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: Crean Lutheran takes control early and defeats crosstown rival Northwood

Luke Doyle of Crean Lutheran hauls in one of his two touchdown catches as Northwood’s Eddie Petrushin defends Friday night. (Photos courtesy Crean Lutheran Shutterbugs, John Luciano, Ted Rigoni and Howard Lyon).

Crean Lutheran High School’s football team scored two touchdowns in the first quarter and went on to defeat crosstown rival Northwood 28-7 Friday evening in a non-league game at Crean Lutheran.

The game had an early 5:30 p.m. kickoff.

“We were very aggressive, it was a little sloppy,” said Saints Coach Rick Curtis. “We had a lot of penalties and that slowed down the game, it was a weird start and we were a little flat coming out of pre-game. But I liked our defensive front, they played really aggressive and our secondary did a great job. We only gave them seven points. Eddie (Northwood quarterback Ma) can throw the ball and make plays and their receivers do a great job and I thought we did a great job stopping them.”

Crean Lutheran limited Northwood to 112 yards passing and under 50 yards rushing.

To see the slide show, click on the first photo:

Crean Lutheran (3-1) also got another strong performance from quarterback Jeremiah Finaly, who completed 24 of 31 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns. He threw two 15-yard TD passes to Luke Doyle, one in the first quarter and another in the third quarter. Doyle had eight catches for 89 yards.

“Offensively, we did a few good things,” Curtis said. “He’s (Finaly) done a good job,” Curtis said. “He’s averaging about 200 yards a game and there are still some things we have to clean up but our offensive line is progressing and we’re running the ball pretty well.”

Taurian Nash scored the Saints first TD on a 1-yard run in the first quarter then the TD pass to Doyle put Crean Lutheran ahead 13-0.

Northwood (2-3) cut the lead to 13-7 when Ma connected with Joseph Harper on a 3-yard TD pass early in the second quarter. Harper’s extra effort put him into the end zone.

Crean Lutheran moved ahead 20-7 when Finaly connected with Ben Byszewski on a 10-yard TD pass in the second quarter.

Northwood looked like it might get back into the game when it drove the ball to Crean Lutheran 12-yard line on its first possession of the second half. But following a completion, the Timberwolves fumbled and the Saints recovered, dashing Northwood’s comeback hopes.

“This may seem strange, but I’m happier this week than I was last week,” said Northwood Coach JC Clarke, who used to be an assistant for Curtis when Curtis was the head coach at Northwood. “We were really sloppy last week (in a win over Valley View) and we were not happy with the penalties and the sloppiness last week and this is a good team, a really good team and Rick Curtis is a real good offensive coordinator and whoever they have doing defense does a good job too.

“I’m happier after the game than I was before because we competed with these guys and played some good defense in the middle.”

The Saints, led by their senior quarterback Finaly, were thrilled to get the home win.

“It was a great team win, we came out and our defense played really great and the offense did their job and the O-line did great. running backs and receivers did amazing,” said Finaly. “Luke Doyle, two touchdown catches, Ben Byszewski had a TD catch, what more can you ask for, it was just a great team win overall.

Justin Dominguez was Crean Lutheran’s leading rusher with 62 yards on eight carries.

—Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com