CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio - Friday night in a battle between arguably two of the best teams in the Greater Cleveland Conference, Cleveland Heights walked off the field firmly in the drivers seat as the conference champs in just their first year after leaving the Lake Erie League. Fans from both schools walked away with memories of an all-time classic with both teams showcasing remarkable offensive firepower.
Tigers' four-star recruit, junior running back Marquise Davis, was nothing short of sensational. Davis blazed through the Medina defense with a jaw-dropping 361 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns, mirroring the exceptional 268 yard and six touchdown performance he had las week in 42-28 win over Solon.
This was the second consecutive game Davis found himself in the end zone for six touchdowns. His agility, prowess, and sheer physicality seemed to be too much for the Medina defense and stating his case to be Cleveland Heights first ever Mr. Ohio Football.
"Whenever I ran the ball, you could tell Medina's defense was a little hesitant to tackle me one-on-one. I'm a dominant person and I hate letting one person take me down, so I try me best not to let just one person take me down," Davis said postgame.
The Bees' loss may have been stinging, it wasn't due to a lack of effort from their QB Danny Stoddard. Stoddard put on a quarterbacking masterclass, accounting for seven total touchdowns - six through the air and one with his legs. Stoddard finished with 607 total yards in the game (495 passing, 112 rushing).
Stoddard's impeccable vision and pinpoint accuracy were on full display as he connected with his receivers time and again, allowing each to make spectacular catch after spectacular catch, piercing the Tigers' defensive backs throughout the game.
But even as Stoddard kept Medina in the game after being down 49-14 at one point in the second quarter, Cleveland Heights' defense had its own heroes forcing five turnovers. Senior John Gordon Jr. was a nightmare for Medina, intercepting the ball twice and blocking two PAT's, one luckily still made it through the uprights. One of his interceptions didn't just halt a Medina drive – it added to the Tigers' score when Gordon Jr. dashed into the end zone for a momentum-shifting pick six in the first half.
Tigers Head Coach Mac Stephens spoke high praises about the heart and toughness two-way player postgame.
"Pound for pound one of the best players I've ever coached in the 20 something years of coaching high school football. He does it on the defensive side, he does it on special teams, he does it on offense. He hits like he's 190 pounds, but if he's 145 I'd be shocked," Stephens said postgame about the senior standout.
Turning point of the game
Another standout on special teams was senior safety Ethan Golden. Making his highly anticipated season debut after a seven-game absence due to a back injury, Golden wasted no time making his presence felt. Early in the first quarter, he jarred the ball loose on a Medina kick return from Tallen Hulvey, giving the Tigers a crucial early possession.
"This is truly something I'll never again take for granted," Golden said postgame. "At the beginning of the season, I had some back trouble and didn't really know how serious it was. I then found out I fractured my spine, so I didn't know if I'd be able to play my senior year. To be back on the field and playing is a blessing. Special teams has been a big focus this year after last season. They told me to go out there and make a play. I did just that."
Next week, Cleveland Heights (7-1, 5-0 GCC) aims to maintain their momentum as they face the Euclid Panthers (1-7, 0-4 GCC) at home for senior night, while Medina (5-3, 3-2 GCC) will look to bounce back verus the hot Shaker Heights Red Raiders (7-1, 4-1 GCC) at home. Both kickoffs are at 7 p.m. Whatever the outcome, if both game are anything like this past Friday night, fans are in for another treat.