Conneaut Valley’s new-look offense opened the season with a flurry of fireworks.
Gaining nearly 500 yards in total offense and scoring four 60-plus yard touchdowns, the high-powered Indians rolled to a 55-18 victory over Cochranton on Friday night in non-region action.
During the offseason, Conneaut Valley coach Scott Hoover made a huge offensive decision — replacing two-year starting quarterback Casey Baker with sophomore Nolan Griffin.
Hoover’s motive: to become more balanced. The Indians’ coach got exactly what he wanted in Griffin’s debut under center.
Showcasing his arm strength in the first half, Griffin threw three 60-plus yard touchdown passes to split end Nolan Varee (68 yards), running back Jacob Conley (61 yards) and wide receiver Baker (71 yards).
He finished 3-for-6 for 200 yards.
“When he was throwing the ball around last season as a freshman, we noticed that he had a gun,” said Hoover. “When I decided to make him our starting quarterback, we watched a lot of film together and we worked on his mechanics. He has a lot of potential.”
Conneaut Valley’s ground game also was in high gear.
With scatback Robert Harris running outside and fullback Andrew Butterfield ramming up the middle, the Indians rushed for 255 yards. The fleet-footed Harris scampered for 116 yards on eight carries and Butterfield rushed for 93 on 16 hauls.
“We were hoping to have a nice 1-2 punch in our running game ... and we did,” said Hoover. “We don’t like running Robert inside and he was able to get outside.”
The Harris-Butterfield combo made an immediate statement.
After an opening 10-yard run by Harris, Butterfield toted the ball four times for 29 yards as the Indians went on a 65-yard, nine-play scoring drive to take a 7-0 lead with 8:38 remaining in the first quarter. Running back Jacob Conley capped off the drive with a two-yard touchdown run.
On Cochranton’s first possession, the Cardinals mishandled the snap on fourth down as CV defensive lineman Sam Smith scooped up the fumble and scored from 12 yards out.
CV’s fireworks were only starting.
After Griffin hooked up with Varee on a 68-yard scoring play, Harris zipped around the right end on a 60-yard scoring jaunt as the Indians built a 29-6 first-quarter lead.
The rout was on.
In the second quarter, Baker returned an interception 44 yards for a touchdown and Griffin threw two touchdowns as the clicking CV unit went into the lockerroom at halftime with a comfortable 49-12 lead.
CV eased off the throttle in the second half as Hoover inserted a lot of his second-string players.
Game Notes: Cochranton’s touchdowns were scored by Jeff Hawley (82-yard kickoff return), Austin Andrews (15-yard run) and Cole Graham (51-yard pass from freshman quarterback Chad Eisenhooth) ... Eisenhooth, CHS’s heralded frosh, had a sold debut —completing seven-of-17 passes for 144 yards. “I thought Chad showed a lot of poise in his first game,” said Cochranton coach Tom Haynes ... Hawley led Cochranton on the ground with 37 yards on 10 hauls ... Graham caught five passes for 106 yards.