Welcome to episode 2 of the 2020 Cleveland Browns High School Game of the Week "Inside the Hudl".
The High School Game of the Week is presented by Ohio CAT and in association with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and Raising Cane's.
Our week 2 winner is Brookside Cardinals who defeated the Wellington Dukes 28-26 in Friday's non-conference matchup.
This week we met with Coach Scott O'Donnell, Head Coach for the Cardinals.
Congratulations again. Now let's go "Inside the Hudl" where we'll discuss top plays from last night's game.
- Coach, your team had a tough loss in your opener.
Cleveland Browns: How did you galvanize the troops to get them prepared for last night's matchup?
Coach O'Donnell: In game one against Westlake, I felt like I didn't have the guys ready. I talked to them about taking the field with confidence every time. In the past, it hasn't been great. I felt like we took the field with confidence. We had a great week of practice and we got better at the things we needed to emphasize. They played great and that's why we got the victory.
- The Dukes would score first, and go up 7-0. Your team continued to fight...
Browns: How did you keep your team focused?
Coach: What was good about the week before, we had a similar situation. They went down there again in the red zone and we had a huge stop to keep them out of the end zone. A week ago, we had a chance to get a pick six in the end zone and we dropped it. Those kind of plays with a young team, that's inexperienced, sometimes that can have that effect of going down a landslide and we didn't. They kept up, they fought, and we stopped them. We forced them in a punt or a fourth down situation to get off the field. And that was huge. Our kids had the confidence in making that stop. Our offense got going and the rest was history.
- End of the first quarter: the score would remain 7-0.
- Scoring possession: you would convert on fourth down with a quarterback draw. Later in the drive you would tie the game at seven.
Browns: Tell us about this play.
Coach: Basically, it's a read play between Kenny Grobolsek and Michael Gomes. Kenny reads that front side end, and if that front side end goes with Michael, Kenny is going to keep that. If it's a gray area, Kenny's our guy, and he's going to keep it. Kenny made a heck of a read and tied the game up which was nice. Blocking was pretty good. The great thing about that play is that he gets to make the choice and he made the right one.
- The Dukes would score next, but would miss the extra point. Score was 13-7.
- Right before half, you would get the ball back. Instead of taking a knee and taking it to the half, you decided to try and score.
Browns: Did the return help you make that decision?
Coach: Actually, one point we talked about today – they kicked the ball out of bounds. Those kind of calls can go either way so we took the 5 yard penalty and had them to kick it again. So you get the ball at the 35 yard line if you want. We could have taken the ball there, but we didn't. It ended up being a great call in hindsight. We got a good return down the sideline. Obviously we have a pretty good field goal kicker. He was able to get on the field and we were able to get three with short time on the clock. That ended up working out for us. If we were deep in our territory that would have been something I would have to think about. Do we take a knee in that situation with a short clock? Chances of getting it down the field on that situation are not very good. You don't want to turn the ball over in their territory. We got the ball in their territory so it was a no brainer for me.
- You put up three more points. Score was now 13-10 going into the half.
Browns: What did you tell your team at halftime?
Coach: I didn't think we played real great. We started taking over a little bit up front. I knew going up front was going to be the telling tale of who was going to win the football game. They were well coached, and it was a slug fest back and forth. I thought we started to wear them down a little bit, which comes from us, we don't have very many guys, but our guys are well conditioned and they took over in the second half. It shows in the fourth quarter, we outscored them 18-7 in the fourth so that was great. They answered the bell, it was just about finish off the game.
- After both teams exchange punts in the third quarter. The Dukes would strike first.
- Your team was down heading into the fourth quarter. Running back Michael Gomes would punch it in for a score.
Browns: Tell us about this play.
Coach: Zone play. We're zoning it. Michael Gomes hit it and he gets downhill. We're zone blocking up front. It's a handoff to Michael and Michael just hits the whole. The offensive-line did a nice job giving him a whole. In short yardage, he hits it hard and gets in there. It was a nice play. It was a nice compliment yesterday. We didn't do a great job of that in Game 1. Game 2, Coach Ferguson, our Offensive Coordinator, did a good job of giving them that one-two punch with Michael so that they couldn't just hone in on Kenny. Week 1 we didn't do such a great job of that. I think this we did with the one-two. They couldn't just hone in on Kenny all the time, they had to look at Michael as well.
- Kenny would score again on a red zone read play.
Browns: Tell us what happened here coach.
Coach: Very similar to earlier on in his score, he's going to check out and fake to Michael. Keep it around the side - we have a lead block there. We have both guard and tackle coming here, they kick and they lead up through. That's what I was just talking about Darrell. The fake to Michael gets the linebackers flowing and they get that way, then he comes back the other way. That's a great counter punch to what we we're getting from Michael.
On that one, our guard gets down and gets a corner for them – the last guy who can make that play. That's our guard from the backside getting out on him. That's a heck of a block and finish. That's what we are trying to preach, FINISH every block.
- You decided to go for the two-point conversion.
Browns: Why did you make that decision?
Coach: We're up four at that time and they struggle to kick extra points. So my thought process is if we go for two, we're up by six. If they score again, we're tied. If we kick the extra point, we go up by five. That really doesn't make a difference. You go up by six, now if they miss the extra point we are tied.
We've been working on this play. This is a throwback if you watch our tight end cross and gets everybody out of there. The kid (Wellington Dukes defender) actually sees it but doesn't see it quickly enough. It was a nice throw by Kenny and a nice catch by Ryan Kelley. Tough play to defend for the corner because he has to see it coming back. We got out there and we were able to execute and get the two point conversion. The score of the game was 28-26, that was a huge two point conversion now in hindsight.
- The Dukes would score on the next possession bringing the score to 25-26 Dukes.
- Coach, your team would drive down for the game winning field goal with three seconds remaining.
Browns: What's the longest that placekicker Matthew O'Donnell has hit in practice? Was this a comfortable distance?
Coach: Actually, this is my son who is the kicker too. Obviously you know your son, he's been kicking for a long time. He can get up to around that 50 yard range. If we needed to try something like that we could. I have faith, anything inside of 45, we're going to try. In high school, not that it would have mattered in this situation, if you hit it in the end zone they get it at the 20. It serves two purposes, we get to try a field goal and get points, if we don't they can get it at the 20 yard line, as long as it goes in the end zone. I told him in the huddle before he went out there, "Here's your time, and you've been waiting for this for a long time. You have to put up or shut up". It was nice to see him get that kick. It's great for the community. They have been waiting for this for a long time. It was the (Cleveland Browns High School) Game of the Week, we win this game. Not a lot of people thought we were going to. It was a big victory and big step forward for the program.
- Great game, coach! We appreciate you spending time with us today on the second episode of "Cleveland Browns Inside the Hudl"
- Thank you, and good luck the rest of the way!